Considering its sheer size, it’s perhaps surprising that we wondered up and down Northumberland Avenue for quite some time before we realised that The Northall — the in-house restaurant at London‘s all-new Corinthia Hotel — was found up some rather anonymous-looking steps and behind panes of non-descript glass. But perhaps that’s the point. After all, the hotel doesn’t want to attract any riff-raff or camera-toting tourists off the streets.
Inside, it’s an entirely classic affair and is the kind of space you could imagine Julia Roberts and Richard Gere schmoozing in (though without the hookers — at least for now). The Lobby Lounge to the right of the entrance is dominated by a gorgeous marble-topped bar, and is manned by even more gorgeous bar staff; while the Dirty Martini was sea-water sickly, the Bellini and bar snacks (a trio of plump olives, dried olives and pineapple, and a selection of nuts) were significantly more successful.
The restaurant itself — to the left of the entrance — harks back to the glamorous days of yesteryear, when fine dining and starched tablecloths were very much in vogue. A subdued colour palette of grey and white abounds throughout, while tanned seating lends subtle colour to an otherwise serious space. Thankfully, the menu is surprisingly casual and eschews fancy, complicated fare in favour of good, hearty British grub — done in a sophisticated manner, of course. There’s a great focus on organic, sustainable produce and artisanal suppliers, and underneath each dish is its origin. Following a glass of chilled Champagne, we opted for starters of Loch Var smoked salmon served with capers and lemon — nice, but nothing mindblowing — and dressed crab with mayonnaise and melba toast, definitely the better of the two with delicate, flaky crab meat making for a light, luscious appetiser.
Mains were more carniverous, with a succulent sirloin from the grill served with pepper sauce and accompanied with side orders of field muschrooms — suitably oversized and earthy — and triple-cooked chips. More adventurous was the roast corn-fed Goosnargh duck with dauphinoise and buttered hispi, apparently served pink but certainly not pink enough for our liking. And rather strangely, the meat was — dare we say — a little cold underneath.
Desserts were simple enough in the form of caramel fudge and chocolate cheesecake with vanilla marshmallow — the kind of sweet that would have even the strictest calorie-counter straying — and a more restrained raspberry and almond Bakewell.
While hotel guests will undoubtedly appreciate having somewhere pleasant to dine without having to leave the chic confines of the hotel, it’s hard to imagine The Northall becoming a favourite with foodies as a stand-alone venue. Then again, it has just opened. With all the makings of a classic — a beautiful backdrop, convenient location and a good team at the helm — there’s really no excuse for this not to become The Corinthia’s crowning glory.
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