How many times have you been asked what your last meal on earth would be? It seems to be a question which comes up most weeks between food writers and bloggers. Roast chicken is often the meal I choose, which, for me, brings back memories of my family all gathering round the table on a Sunday to enjoy the most delicious meal together. This must be the reason behind Hélène Darroze’s Le Poulet du Dimanche menu at the Connaught, a magical menu focussed around Sunday roast chicken and all the trimmings.
Hélène Darroze at The Connaught focusses on food from Hélène’s homeland, the Basque region of France. This special Sunday menu is centred around the Landes chicken from the Basque, an exceptional bird known for its superior quality and flavour. Each course of the set five course menu features a different part of the chicken or egg, and for Hélène it is a celebration of this beautiful produce whilst also illustrating that her kitchen tries to always be sustainable and utilise the whole animal.
After a glass of wonderfully refreshing Franck Pascal, Fluence champagne we were treated to the speciality freshly baked bread and my favourite vibrant orange espelette pepper butter. The first course was a trio of perfect bites:
Crispy skin and chicken liver mousse
Confit egg yolk and Parmeggiano Reggiano
Chicken oyster and juniper
Each was more delicious than the last, and we savoured this first course, not wanting the meal to be over too quickly! The chicken skin was delicate, carefully sandwiched with rich and creamy liver mousse. The egg was delicate but rich, masterfully injected with a hint of parmesan. But it was the chicken oyster which was my favourite, this juicy part of the chicken was intensely flavoured and infused with herbaceous flavours that reminded me of the pine-filled forests of France.
The second course soon arrived, Le bouillon de la poule au pot comme le souhaitait Henry IV – Chicken consommé, ravioli of Bigotte ham, vegetables from the pot, roasted country bread croutons.
The broth was delicate and clear but full of hearty flavours that would remind anyone of a roast meal… caramelised vegetables and sticky meat juices, seasoned with an abundance of herbs. The tiny parcels of pasta were beautifully made, encasing sweet Bayonne ham, another speciality from the South-west of France. Just as we were about to slurp up the final spoonfuls of broth, the waiter arrived to offer a few drops of Darroze family Armagnac to the sauce. It added a smooth piquancy and depth to the last mouthfuls.
The main event was, of course, the roast chicken (Le poulet rôti du Dimanche de ma grand-mère Louise), which is first brought to the table whole, fresh from the oven and smelling divine. The expertly trained waiter then carefully carved the glistening brown breasts and placed each on a pre-prepared plate of asparagus, morels and airy potatoes soufflés. The foie gras under the skin added so much flavour to the perfectly cooked chicken, and the asparagus was a nod to the seasons freshly ingredients. My own slight disappointment was the lack of sauce, which I felt could have nicely brought all the elements on the plate together.
Just as we were lamenting the end of our chicken dish, two pretty plates arrived with tiny, immaculately assembled tacos. Using the remaining meat the Hélène Darroze team create Asian inspired tacos, which I’m sure is a nod to her two beloved daughters, adopted from Vietnam. The little bite-sized chicken confit leg tacos were topped with creamy avocado and colourful edible flowers.
The dessert offered playful variations around the theme of ‘The Egg’. The assortment of small dishes were light and palate-cleansing recipes, each focusing on tropical fruit flavours.
As always, our meal at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught was faultless. The atmosphere, service and food at this eatery are among the best in London, but what really makes a meal here memorable is that Hélène clearly puts her heart and soul into ever dish, none more so than the Roast Chicken menu. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The limited Le Poulet du Dimanche menu is only available on Sundays, and is priced at £150 to share for 2 guests. More information and book a table for Hélène Darroze at The Connaught here.