Frances Cottrell visits The Northall at The Corinthia, London’s latest luxury grand hotel, for an indulgent dinner, swiftly followed by an impressive afternoon tea. It’s a tough life.
The Corinthia hotel launched in a year where over 1,000 5 star bedrooms were unleashed onto the scene, and the 294 room hotel has fought hard not to be lost in the crowd.
In a renovated Ministry of Defence building moments away from Downing Street, its positioning is ideal for luxury business. The hotel boasts Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar, The Northall (including a separate bar area), Bassoon bar and a Lobby Lounge.
The Northall celebrates ‘Fresh and Seasonal British Fare’, which although an over-used term, actually rings true on this menu. The 150-seater restaurant is grand with remnants of Art Deco and a touch of the Mad Men era.
High ceilings and vast windows onto the street give an airy and bright feel at The Northall, and as the evening sets-in the impressive lighting comes into its own, swathing the restaurant in a golden glow.
Always start in the separate Northall Bar and sit at the counter to enjoy the impact of the room. Drinks are not bad, if a little pricey, with a glass of champagne starting at £15.50.
Once you’re finished, you will be led through the serving area where bread, cheese and fruits make for an incredible display before you enter the dining room. An impressive and grand scene, again with the air of the 50s about it, it’s a decadent dining space at The Northall.
The a la carte menu is simple and pleasant, if a little unimaginative. A strong focus on ingredient sourcing and unfussy techniques shine through. I started with a Lobster cocktail with beetroot and avocado (£24) and my guest with six wild rock oysters (£21) served with a sense of celebration on grand silver ice platters.
Both were absolutely delicious, and the perfect quantities to face the substantial main courses.
Bone in rib steak for two was a gorgeous piece of meat cooked handsomely (£28 per person) only let down slightly by a selection of sides lacking in finesse (Creamed leeks, Chips, Buttered hispi cabbage etc at £3.50 each). Sauces were strong and a little too rich and came included in the steak price.
Desserts were pleasantly fresh with rose, elderflower and summer berries appearing on the menu on more than one occasion. The rose, raspberry and lychee Pavlova with crystallised rose petals was delicate, pretty, and perfect to share after the richness of the mains.
Also worth noting are the Damian Allsop chocolates available in place of a dessert. The hand-made chocolates are very well respected in the food world and an interesting addition to the menu.
The wine list is again a little pricey, but well balanced. The Northall’s Sommelier on hand throughout dinner was one of the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable you’ll find anywhere, and was the absolute highlight of the evening.
Afternoon Tea at The Corinthia
Afternoon tea should be decadent and luxurious, and that is what The Corinthia delivers. Served in the Lobby Lounge, the room teases the sweet tooth with glass-encased cakes on display like a pretty Victorian tea room.
Finger sandwiches arrive with fresh, fluffy bread and succulent fillings. These are swiftly followed by warm and light scones and a selection of the usual clotted cream and reserve accompaniments.
But the real reason to visit The Corinthia at afternoon tea is Claire Clarke, the consultant and in house cake maker extraordinaire. Clarke is one of the UK’s finest pastry chefs and her time at Napa’s French Laundry is evident in abundance as the most meticulous, imaginative and colourful cake creations arrived at our table.
Afternoon tea can, and often does, fall into the trap of the dull and inferior, but Clarke’s finesse lifts this menu into excellence. From the prettiest and daintiest of Violet Eclaires to the white chocolate brownie box, the cakes have a depth of flavour and staggering presentation.
The Corinthia Lobby Lounge is a light, airy and chic setting to enjoy an afternoon tea, and at £35 per head (with a glass of Laurent Perrier for £45) it is value for money and superior to a great number of its 5* contemporaries across the capital, without the month-long waiting list.
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