Food & Drink Life

Kerridge’s Bar & Grill

  • November 21, 2022
  • 6 min read
Kerridge’s Bar & Grill

by Philip Ashby Rudd

Walking towards Trafalgar Square from Embankment station, en route to Soho and the theatre heartland, there is a tendency to notice iconic buildings, such as the Sherlock Holmes public house, or the Playhouse theatre, at the meeting place of Whitehall. Yet, how rarely do we look upwards? If we did, we would see that dominating the whole block, is the wonderfully French inspired super-hotel of the Victorian 1880s, the Corinthia London. Famous guests include Edward V11, Buffalo Bill, and Oscar Wilde. The building was also the original headquarters of Military intelligence, that became the Second World War’s, Special Operations Executive. In the thirties, the hotel was in fact used as a recruiting centre for interviewing potential spies, that would later become inspiration, for Ian Flemings, characterisation of James Bond. Even today M “…holds his Christmas party for spies at the hotel for old times’ sake, but of course that’s all, Hush Hush.” Presidents and ambassadors haunted its halls, bars and grills, planning the fate of Europe, in its quiet and secluded corners. We just stroll past this architectural wonder oblivious to its existence, which is a mistake, for here in the beating heart of Whitehall, London, is a true gem.

It is unsurprising that the much loved, celebrity chef, Tom Kerridge, has chosen the Corinthia London, as home to his first London restaurant. Benefitting from one of the most expensive refurbishments of the past ten years, at almost half a billion (yes, that is how much was spent to refinish this classic hotel!) It is worth the price of an intake of air just to experience the chandelier in the lobby.

At Kerridge’s Bar and Grill, you will find the perfect stop for pre – post theatre snacks. There are echoes of a traditional and sophisticated past but with an impressive modern twist in its design (courtesy of David Collins Studio). The luxurious oxblood banquettes, gesture towards the pub culture on which Kerridge’s celebrity name was built (the Hand and Flowers in Marlow being the most famous), as do the gently lit meat fridges, wine cabinets, and the partially revealed kitchen in the far corner of the room. However, be under no illusion, Kerridge’s is by no means a traditional pub. The artworks showcased on the walls are a testimony to this and include signed works by Damien Hurst and two large bronze sculptures by Beth Cullen-Kerridge.

Enter the restaurant and the greeting you will receive from the staff is genuinely warm and helpful. On being led to a personal booth, it’s clear that every attention to the table has been taken, from personal space, to the silver dumbbell salt and pepper grinders, and the most aesthetically pleasing butter knife you’ve ever seen! The staff dress in crisp black and white, and are attentive and knowledgeable.

We were undoubtedly impressed from the outset, and once settled in, Sommelier, Martin guided us through a number of the 960 entries in the wine list. He shrugged with some regret that he had not yet made the 1000 mark as he’d run out of space in the cellar! Settling on a glass of the Bad Boy Chardonnay at £16.50, and Nuits-St-Georges, a Bourgogne classic at £30.00 per glass, we were nicely set to focus on the treats ahead.

The Kerridge’s menus includes vegan, vegetarian, and a mains à la carte menu. For our part, we stuck to the small tasting plates, based on pub classics, yet tweaked and transformed into five-star food, fit for the London trade; the Pre-Post Theatre Snacks Menu. First up, and perhaps the perfect start to this feast, was the sticky Treacle Soda Bread with Truffle Butter. It was simply delicious and unlike anything we’d tasted previously; sweet and unusually light for a soda bread. With 13 dishes to choose from we settled on the following. Jerusalem Artichoke and Smoked Bacon Soup with Poached Hen’s Egg and Sunflower-Seed Pesto (£12.50). This was followed by Crispy Pigs Head with Spiced Roasted Pineapple, Smoked Roe, Salted Onions, Pickled Chillies and Pork Puff (£17.50). Better described as a first-class twist on the traditional pub classic, gammon, pineapple, and pork scratchings. One need not be alarmed at the idea of a pigs’ head turning up at the table. This is in fact a lightly battered pigs cheek fritter and pimped up with the desired effect.

The second wave included Red Prawn Scotch Egg with Pickled Mooli and Roasted Shell Satay (£22.50). An Asian blend of flavours, which was appreciated more by the time and effort that must have gone into making sure all the flavours complimented one another yet came off as the classic food staple of pub life. Next, and taking the classic pub steak to another level came the Fillet Steak Tartare with Deep Fried Egg, Grilled Bread and Truffle Butter, served with Tom Kerridge’s classic Gherkin ketchup (£21.50). The tartare is the real deal and melts on the tongue. As for the Gherkin ketchup, we live in hope that it turns up on the deli shelves at some point. Kerridge’s pulls no punches when it comes to flavour and in particular the kitchen has a love affair with truffles so be prepared to indulge. The Wiltshire truffles come in at £15.00 per 5g and can be added to any dish.

Kerridge’s is not for those over body conscious. It’s what makes his menu all the more appealing and something to look forward to when picking somewhere special to dine out. This is as true of Kerridge’s pubs as it is the London restaurant. The food can be high in calories and this is no exception in regards to the delicious selection of deserts. Tempted by the marvellous cheese board, which we saw another couple enjoying on a neighbouring table, we decided to end this mouth-watering trip on the Madagascan Vanilla Creme Brûlée (£16.50), followed by a glass of Canadian Inniskillin Ice Sweet Wine (£14.50) from the Niagara Estate; whilst sweet, the glacial taste refreshes the palate and proves a satisfying end to the evening.

Every mouthful, every sip, taken at Kerridge’s Bar and Grill, is worth the pound spent and pound gained. The perfect start or end to a night on the West End town!

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Philip Ashby Rudd

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