My friend Emily is moving to London in January and was stopping by for a week of work and reconnaissance. She suggested the chicken dinner at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught Hotel (Le Poulet du Dimanche) . I have to admit, I had not heard of it before so immediately went online to check the menu and it sounded absolutely amazing. I don’t do Sunday roasts often, but Hélène Darroze’s chicken dinner sounded like a fun interpretation of the British classic.
The five course chicken dinner is served for two people (or 4, 6, etc.) and costs £95 – very good value for the quality, setting and absolutely delicious food. On the other hand, if you go in an odd numbered group, it gets a bit more challenging as they can’t do the chicken dinner for 3, so one person ends up having to do the a la carte menu which means 5 courses for £92, twice the cost.
On the other hand, as Stewart was the one with the a la carte (he could then try all my chicken dishes), we also got to try some of the food from their regular menu.
Stewart and I always laugh when talking about chicken. During his first visit to China someone he was doing business with gave him very valuable advice: When in China, never ask: “Is this Chicken?” as the answer will always be: “Yes, yes, Chicken……” while it may be something completely different. The right way is to ask what is this exactly….
The meal started off with several nibbles, including crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside chickpea batons with table-side shaved ham; a gorgeous clear gazpacho; and mackerel foam in a phyllo cone, so delicate and fresh.
What we ate:
L’oeuf coque “directement sorti du cul de la poule” (egg that exited directly from the chicken’s ass?): one of the best egg dishes I have ever tried. Gorgeous mix of confit egg yolks with Parmesan foam and bits of ultra-crunchy, smoky bacon. My only complaint is that I it was small and I wanted more of it — back away with that spoon, husband!
Le bouillon de la poule au pot comme le souhaitait Henry IV (chicken broth the way Hernry IV would have wanted): chicken broth with beautiful ham ravioli and some cute spherical vegetables. This dish visually reminded me of the foie gras ravioli in brodo from L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon’s in Las Vegas, which was one of my favourite dishes ever. Sadly, this broth was way too salty. They told us to eat the ravioli and leave some broth on the plate at the end so they could pour in some Armagnac for a grand finale. It was an impressive improvement, like a warm, rich, savoury cocktail.
Le poulet rôti du Dimanche de ma grand-mère Louise (Grandma Louise’s Sunday roasted chicken): I have inadequate words to describe this, the best roasted chicken I ever had (the one at Hoppers is a strong number two…). They first brought the gorgeously glistening chicken (feet and all!) to the table and carved the bird table side. I don’t approve when other places, like the Nomad in NYC, they bring a show chicken and then go carve it in the kitchen, so you never know if they just cooked the breast and served it or you actually ate the one they presented.
Under Hélène Darroze’s perfectly cooked, crispy chicken skin, there was a delicious savoury and slightly crunchy black truffle and chanterelle stuffing and the breast was the most tender and juicy chicken we all had ever tried. The chicken was served with the most glorious mini Scotch egg, some variations of potatoes and small chanterelles. An absolutely magnificent course!
Le taco méxicain “Retour d’Asie” (Mexican taco returned from Asia?): Corn tortilla stuffed with chicken confit leg, Haas avocado, cucumber, coriander and mint. The chicken thigh glaze was mildly Asian and the mint and coriander blended Mexico and Asia in a perfect taco. Sadly, it was just one small one and, just like the egg, I wanted more!
Dessert trio!: It included the best floating island (île flottante) I have ever tasted–slightly perfumed with passion fruit and lemongrass and served in a delicate, not too thick vanilla sauce. The crème caramel was good (not usually my go to dessert) and the olive oil madeleine were piping hot and delicious. Stewart got a strawberry cheesecake with buckwheat shortbread from the a la carte menu that was the best dessert of the evening.
In sum: call and book ahead as there are limited number of chicken dinners at Hélène Darroze but go! A gorgeous meal, maybe a perfect option if you have family visiting and want to expose them to a more refined version of a Sunday Roast.
Service was ok but didn’t blow us away and sadly they just had one type of Rose on the list, which was priced at £65. They definitely should have more options.
Stewart’s food was solid, some outstanding dishes and one particularly disappointing. While you’re given a printed menu describing the dishes, there’s a peculiar and fun way of ordering… you separate the labelled marbles on a wooded game board—I guess you’re encouraged to play with your food! In addition to his dessert, the Calamari was the other lone course that I’d seek out. He definitely was very envious of our chicken dinner and, as a good wife, I shared a precious portion of the roasted chicken with him!