In one of the most hotly anticipated UK restaurant launches of the year, the doors of Kerridge’s Bar & Grill opened on September 10th at Corinthia Hotel London. Insider+ celebrates the event and looks at how the media have reacted.
Following months of preparation, which included a complete refit of the former Massimo Restaurant at Corinthia Hotel London – transforming it into a chic brasserie with parquet floors and rich burgundy banquettes – eager diners thronged to savour the latest offerings of Britain’s favourite chef Tom Kerridge.
Speaking to Insider+ Kerridge said he “couldn’t be happier” with how the day went, and that “having being involved in openings before, I know they’re a bumpy and exciting ride. This is why we enter the industry in the first place. Building those relationships with front of house, and everybody learning the food, and the dishes. It’s a wonderful place to be”. The most popular starters on the day were fresh Cornish crab vol-au-vent with with crab bisque, and the glazed omelette ‘Lobster Thermidor’. The most sought-after main course: Rib of beef from The Butcher’s Tap (Kerridge’s own butchery).
Within days of the opening, international media were commenting on London’s most talked-about new eatery, with Conde Nast Traveler leading in their admiration.
“Trailblazing chef Tom Kerridge has gone from multiple-Michelin-starred pubs in river-side Marlow to a lofty, dome-ceilinged room with white columns in one of London’s swishest hotels. The just-opened restaurant feels like the perfectly turned-out hybrid of a gentleman’s-club-meets-glossy-New-York-steakhouse…”
Conde Nast were equally impressed with Kerridge’s stunning versions of British classics – many of which were originally created for his celebrated Michelin-starred pubs in Marlow.“To get your mouth watering, ogle the brass-edged meat cabinet and rotisserie on the way to your table….The rotisserie angle features a number of times on a menu that bigs up British classics such as fish and chips and roast chicken – but given the stellar Kerridge treatment…”
Meanwhile, in one of the most insightful articles to appear in British media on the partnership between Corinthia and Kerridge, The Caterer magazine spoke to GM Thomas Kochs, about the team spirit at the heart of the enterprise:
“We both believe the team is incredibly important,” Thomas told The Caterer . “Tom really looks after those who work with him because he wants loyalty and people to stay with him. He achieves this by creating a happy team, which in turn creates a great atmosphere in the dining room.”
“Tom doesn’t want any barriers between front and back of house…he would be mortified if any waiter was afraid of entering the kitchen. These are little details, but for me that is wonderful because that is what we are doing here – investing in our people by being positive and captivating them.
“Technology is invading our lives. It is helpful and facilitates things in many ways, but in hospitality we need to emphasise the human interaction. Tom understands that and that is why it has been such fun creating the restaurant with him.”
With Kerridge’s high profile – not only as the creator of the UK’s only pub with two Michelin stars (The Hand & Flowers), but because of his many TV appearances and book sales – his long-awaited arrival in London is a coup for Corinthia.
Days before opening, BigHospitality, the magazine of the influential William Reed Group, wrote one of the most revealing articles on how Kerridge’s Bar & Grill was conceived – sparked by a phone call and a meeting with Thomas Kochs.
“Thomas has a very special aura about him,” Kerridge said. “The synergy between my outlook of what the hospitality industry should be and his matched…We had a two or three hour conversation and I left the room knowing we would do this.”
“Do it” they did, and some. Perhaps what comes across most powerfully – beyond the stunning food itself, is the care and creativity behind the whole concept, in every detail: from the restaurant and bar’s sophisticated but informal interior design, to the hand-crafted English bone china used in the service, and the intriguing artworks and giant bronze sculptures that adorn the space, created by Tom Kerridge’s artist wife Beth.
Art, aesthetics, and symbols, are important for Kerridge, and so are his roots. Diners at the Bar & Grill will notice a dog’s paw print design on the front of the grey and burgundy aprons worn by the chefs. There’s a very personal story to that, as there is to most elements of Kerridge’s Bar & Grill. It’s taken from the paw print of one of his much loved (now departed) canines – Georgie, who left his mark literally years ago in wet concrete at Kerridge’s first restaurant The Hand & Flowers during its construction. “The print now marks the foundations of everything we do,” Kerridge told reporters. “It seemed very fitting to continue this by putting it on show in London.”
This is a restaurant without a formula in sight. Rather, it is a fascinating and intimate curation by a fine chef and his team – an inspired celebration of simple, great food, and a gastronomic adventure that started 13 years ago in rural Buckinghamshire.
One early TripAdvisor review encapsulates much about the crucial ingredient that completes Kerridge’s Bar & Grill: the impeccable service.
“The staff are friendly and so informative. Restaurant Director Tomas Kubart orchestrated everything with such enthusiasm and confident expertise. There’s nothing quite like a genuine warm smile to start the evening on the right note and he did this throughout and with every guest… I’ve always loved the Corinthia Hotel in London, it’s a brand that truly stands for the highest standard of excellence, and now it’s just got even better with the opening of Kerridge’s Bar and Grill.”
As the autumn leaves begin to fall outside Corinthia’s flagship property on Northumberland Avenue, Kerridge’s Bar & Grill is opening not only a new and rich chapter in the culinary adventures of Corinthia Hotel London, but of the British capital itself.