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Michael Hepworth checks out Richard Corrigan's new showcase at

The Lindsay House

Editorial note Feb 2000: - well the Lindsay House was new when Michael reviewed it! But in the meantime we've had loads of glowing emails from diners who've thoroughly enjoyed Corrigan's robust style, as did the Michelin inspectors! You should also check out his new Chelsea restaurants, The House and Garden

Richard Corrigan is having a whale of a time at his new restaurant in Soho, Lindsay House, playing to packed houses every night with hungry punters tempted to try his very adventurous cooking. No wonder the place is full up every night - half the tables are probably occupied by chefs from all over the country on their nights off, checking what innovation Corrigan has stuck on the menu that particular evening, depending on his mood. The selection changes every day and is based on what comes in from the suppliers beating at his door, or whatever is available at the quality food markets that morning in London or Paris.

Corrigan has only recently finished an 18 month stint as head chef at Searcy's at the Barbican Centre, and Lindsay House is the first venture between the gregarious chef and Searcy-Corrigan Restaurants. He developed his reputation with his earthy, modern Irish cooking working under Stephen Bull at Fulham Road and at Mulligan's of Mayfair.

The Lindsay House seats only 48 on two floors in a Regency style town house that has been redecorated to reflect the original classic features of the building. With wooden floors and walls and ceilings that can loosely be described as distressed or jaded, the same cannot be said about the food. The menu is brief, but far more challenging than many I have recently encountered.

The fixed prices for dinner are Stg 27.50 for two courses or Stg 34.00 pounds for three courses. Lunch is priced at Stg 16.50 and Stg 19.50 respectively.

We began with a surprise starter of a potato, cabbage and wild mushroom soup which set us up nicely for the serious business. I decided to try the Foie gras with caramelized endive and Banyuls. This most unusual combination together with the slightly oxidised quality of the sweet Banyuls perfectly complemented the foie gras. The quality of the goose liver can be gauged by the colour and texture, and this was creamy-white tinged with pink and with a firm texture that still melted in the mouth. I forgot to ask the chef where this particular variety came from, but very likely it was from Alsace or the South Western region of France. My companion went for the Ravioli of crab, grilled red mullet, squid and leek. When the waitress came back and said rather sheepishly that mullet was off, he refused to be fazed and went for the truncated version which had more crab to make up for the lost mullet.

For my main course, I had the Seared Scallops, with a ravioli of veal knuckle. What I took to be a spicy teriyaki sauce was in fact a very concentrated veal reduction. I became more impressed by the mouthful as meanwhile, my friend probably did even better by selecting Confit of rabbit, Serrano ham and Perigord truffles, a dish that looked fabulous and apparently tasted terrific with a distinctly gamey flavour. This was clever, since the rabbit was of the farmed Chinese variety. It came on a bed of polenta, and the stuffing (which was what tasted gamey!) was made from home made black pudding. The whole thing was held together with a caul wrapping. This is a real winter dish and I very much hope it is on the menu more than just occasionally.

Another surprise came with a pre-dessert of poached prune with red wine, cold tea and herbs which was another generous touch.

That was swiftly followed by my pudding dish of Banana tart with spiced bread ice-cream and tobacco syrup. You could subtly taste the tobacco which is briefly infused in the syrup for about ten seconds during the preparation. My knowledgeable companion scored again with the Chocolat fondant with clementines which had an outstandingly light casing that enclosed a molten core of Valrhona chocolate. A glass of Banyuls, the dessert wine made out of shrivelled Grenache Noir grapes and tasting of raisins, plumskins, mocha and spice is the perfect companion to any chocolate dish.

In fact the Dessert Wine list just like the main list is very comprehensive featuring 11 choices from Stg18.50 a bottle for the Thorncroft Noble Harvest, a splendid English dessert wine right up to Stg 95 pounds for the Chateau Raymond Lafon Sauternes. It would have been nice to have seen just a few more interesting English wines such as Chiltern Valley on the list.

One small gripe is that the food could have been served hotter. The exceptionally friendly service was eager if a little amateurish. A visit to The Lindsay House is quite a gourmet adventure as I hope by now you will have gathered; our meal stayed in the memory for quite a time. A Michelin Star could very well be on the horizon next year, for here is a restaurant with a chef-patron clearly in charge of his (and its) own destiny!

Reservations are strongly advised at all times, but you might get lucky if you turn up late on a quieter weekday evening after Christmas.

Michael Hepworth December 1998

The Lindsay House, 21 Romilly Street, Soho, London W1.

Tel-020 7439-0450

Fax-020 7437-7349

Lunch: 12 to 2.30 pm

Dinner: 6 to 11 pm

Closed - Saturday lunch and all day Sunday.


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