October 2010

Iím not a great one for over-complicating things. I like simple things done well. Letís not piss about trying to put chocolate on a pretzel or bugger up a sandwich by putting coleslaw in it, or cock up a rice pudding having it with jam - some things are just wrong. Keep it simple stupid. So too in the restaurant game, there are two very basic things which are vital. The food and the service. And thatís about it.

Sadly Corrigans of Mayfair has not got this sorted. The food was sketchy and the service was bloody terrible. Richard Corrigan is clearly an affable bloke, heís great on the telly and has a great love for proper food, the a la carte menu has loads of game and it typifies the very best of Anglo-Irish food. The set lunch looked appetising and very affordable at £27 but I am getting fed up of these posh eateries serving up sub-standard food just because you have the temerity to order the set lunch rather than a la carte.

But the food was not the only issue. When I go to a restaurant I expect a bit of attention to detail. Particularly at Mayfair prices. As regular readers will know I am a big fan of sherry so I ordered a fino, and the Mrs a manzanilla. The fino came accompanied by something unidentifiable and very sweet - no idea what it was, Sherry Guy looked very confused as he took it back and he retuned just after the starters this time with the manzinilla. So not very appetising at all.

The starters were a rabbit terrine for me and the Mrs. had snails. My terrine had gristle in it, Her snails were excellent. The mains were baked cod for me and a lobster mousse for her, the cod was brilliant, the lobster mousse had shell in it. A lot of shell. You get a carafe of OK wine with the meal and at this point we went off piste and asked for a second, this caused much confusion with Sherry Guy - but it came fairly promptly.

We ordered the puddings as Pudding Guy had finished his conversation with some customers who were clearly his friends. It seemed to be a very long and in depth conversation. Just after Pudding Guy left Sherry Guy came and asked if weíd like a coffee - we said we did thank you very much - and clearly feeling that he might have let us down earlier he brought the coffees before Pudding Guy had brought the puddings - a bit odd again. Coffee then pud - you should try it sometime. When the puds did come they were both supposed to be panna cota with quince. Iím not sure what we had, it was lovely, but it wasnít panna cotta with quince.

Oh did I tell you this was a Monday lunchtime? Pretty big venue, lots of staff, very few customers. We werenít the only ones who complained. The staff were extremely inattentive to the point of totally ignorant of their role in the room. I got the service charge knocked off the bill - I donít generally complain but serious errors in the food and such abject service needed a word. The head waiter knocked off the charge as if this was a regular request. The one plus side was that they were so rubbish that they failed to put the extra carafe of wine on the bill. Mr Corrigan if youíd like me to pay this now Iíll happily do so just as long as you can assure me that your staff arenít quite so sketchy any more.

Youíve only got two jobs in the catering game - good food and good service, Iím afraid this wasnít cutting it at all on either count.

I had a really nice email from the Head Chef, Chris McGowan saying that the issues raised above had now been addressed. I might well return to check this out for myself. As a reviewer of restaurants it would be negligent of me if I didn't recognise that restaurants can change and that accomplished people like Corrigan wouldn't countenance poor service for very long and that excellent chefs like McGowan soon identify and eliminate weaknesses in their kitchens. Make no mistake, when the food is good at Corrigan's it's outstanding.






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