Our first intro to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s food was at his 3 Michelin starred restaurant inside the – gulp – Trump Hotel, Central Park. As New York prices go, the set lunch menu was fantastic value and his Asian-America-French inspired food was quite something.
With 23 restaurants in America, The Connaught, Mayfair is his first flurry into the UK and what a mighty fine hotel to set up camp. It’s a relaxed vibe with a menu that reads like a room service hit list; pizza, pasta, caviar, cheeseburger.
As it gets dark, our view onto the conservatory is of the blue circular lights that reflect in the numerous windows like invading spaceships – it’s quite beguiling. The only downside is the one, singular spotlight in the middle of the table, meaning it’s awfully dark in our corner.
The five of us order a collection of starters. A well sourced burrata with heirloom tomatoes (£15); Instagram, and my stomach’s new fovourite thing – the truffle and fontina pizza (£29); a warm, in both temperature and heat, shrimp salad (£25); fresh crab crostini (£18); and crispy salmon sushi (£16). The latter will get you ordering another plate immediately.
Tuna tartare (£20) is light, refreshing and a real looker. A ginger sauce is poured around the tuna and avocado, which brings the whole thing to life. It becomes a fiery little number.
For main, I go for “simply prepared” lamb chops (£28). The meat is Cornish (the best in the country for lamb if you ask me) and comes with a glorious, caramelised crust and pink flesh. The fat has a strong, aged, gamey flavour.
My gentleman companion goes for roasted John Dory (£28) with a ginger chilli dressing. Simple fare, but the sort of food you enjoy eating which offers no unpleasant surprises. A side of asparagus (£8) comes with a tangy-béarnaise-like-foamy-thing which tastes quite marvellous with everything.
For dessert there is just one dud, peach candy floss (£12) which soon disappears when our waiter pours a red currant ginger juice over it. It seems a shame to see the huge ball of fluff go as I was quite looking forward to eating it.
A collection of tapioca, strawberry gelée and strawberry sorbet (£12) is as stunning to look at as it is to eat and caramelised puffed rice (£12) tastes just like a Rice Krispies Square – there’s something most comforting about that.
There’s no hiding the hefty price tag of the dishes at Jean-Georges at The Connaught. But the food really is rather lovely, the space is gorgeous and the clientele don’t exactly strike me as the stingy types. They even do that pizza to takeaway. Welcome to the neighbourhood Jean-Georges.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant