American Brunch Reinvented by Hélène Darroze at The Connaught
Published 1 May 2012
Hélène Darroze is known for her Michelin fine French cooking, but she likes to extend her creative and wonderful cooking to other cuisines. At The Connaught Hotel, she has introduced a new American-inspired Saturday brunch menu, bringing such classics as mac & cheese, brownies, and hot dogs to her restaurant.
Commenting on how she came up with the idea for her new style Saturday brunch, Hélène Darroze said: “I fondly recall many weekend brunches that I prepare for my friends in France and Britain. Sunny mornings, the smell of freshly baked breads and the perfect company of family and friends on one big table make brunch the most cherished moment of my weekend. I love my trips to New York City and have long had a fascination for some American brunch classics such as mac & cheese, hot dogs, and cheese cake and I am excited to reinvent them in my own style”.
First off are the cold starters, which are laid out buffet style, so you can pick and choose your favourites and indulge yourself as you wish. There are the usual fine cold cuts, and at The Connaught they use the best, sourcing the Bayonne Ham and Spanish chorizo from one of Hélène’s favourite Basque delis, Pierre Oteiza. There’s the usual smoked Scottish salmon, but also a rare smoked halibut, from the same farm up in Scotland. This was superb – lightly smoked with wooden chips, and really bringing out the flavour of the halibut, a normally plain tasting fish. Further along the table, there’s the standard choice of eggs – scrambled or boiled. There’s also a garden salad – but look closely and you’ll find that it is actually a white asparagus salad (definitely Hélène’s French touch rather than American influence!). Tender and juicy to eat, with just the right amount of bite and really making an ordinary salad something special. Further along there is a bloody mary salad: chopped celery, tomatoes, and king prawns marinated with a peppery rub. And to top it off, a pistachio terrine and some lovely foie gras.
If you still have space at this point, you’re welcome to try one of their main courses – American classics, done Hélène style. There’s mac & cheese with Bellota ham and aged Comte cheese, which brings a luxurious touch to an otherwise American dinner staple! I went for the “Connaught hot dog”, a fairground favourite, but this time with smoked sausage from Morteau, caramelized pink onion from Roscoff, home-made ketchup, and celeriac remoulade:
My partner went for the “Our burger”, which is a decadent braised Aberdeen Angus beef ox cheek and duck foie gras from Les Landes, between sesame burger buns and served with homemade ketchup and fries:
Which was better? I have to say the burger definitely won the day, with its really tender beef and the massive helping of buttery foie gras, lightly seared and just perfect.
If you still have space at this point, do go for the waffles, made freshly on the spot for you:
The waffle was extremely light, so even if you don’t have much space left you’ll definitely have space for this! And… if you still have space afterwards, go for the cherry and pistachio cupcakes, one of the many highlights of the day. Absolutely moist pistachio cake, and a cherrylicious icing sprinkled with pistachio:
Hélène Darroze’s new brunch menu at The Connaught brings some creativity into a Saturday brunch that livens up your day, especially so when it was pouring down when we went. There’s enough of the usual expected items for comfort food, but also some imaginative and interesting new recreations of classic dishes that will leave you delighted!