The Royal Albert Hall has opened a top-end restaurant whose opening schedule and entire those is about serving those who have come to watch a performance. Rosie Paterson paid a visit.
London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall has a new top-billing act: a fine dining restaurant, in the form of Coda by Eric Chavot.
Located in the east portico, the restaurant is run as a collaboration between Michelin-starred Chavot and a hospitality group named Rhubarb. The restaurant opens for two hours prior to show time and, cleverly, during the interval – you can have pudding or an after-dinner drink.
The seasonal menu bears the influence of traditional French cooking — think delicate portions of beef tartare topped with a soft-boiled quail’s egg for starters, and a classic fine apple tart to finish.
Knowledgeable staff are more than happy to advise on the pleasingly brief menu — just six options per course — and are forthcoming with their favourites.
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With our server’s recommendations in mind we also shared a super light white bean velouté, pared with a juxtaposition of textures in the form of a poached hen’s egg (there might be a theme emerging here…) and crispy shallots, and a fantastically simply chocolate and pistachio ice cream concoction.
There is undoubtedly an innate hostility towards any form of chicken on a restaurant menu — we have all been drilled to ‘order something you wouldn’t normally have’ when eating out — but, like the quality of a bread basket, it’s often an easy way to size up a kitchen.
Coda’s roasted corn-fed chicken, order off the back of another suggestion, did not disappoint. In fact it may have been the highlight of the meal. The dish comes with celeriac purée, wild mushrooms and cèpe butter. Incredibly simple yet incredibly delicious. It’s worth noting that the restaurant also offers a well-received Vegan menu.
The carpeted dining room itself is set, in the current trend for restaurant interior design, around a central bar. Muted Swarovski chandeliers dot the ceiling, the dark wooden tables and high-backed chairs illuminated, for the most part, by small, individual table lamps. It’s a winning tactic that has also been employed at Country Life favourite 45 Jermyn Street — gifting each table with a sense of warmth and privacy.
It’s not hard to see why the majority of diners return in the interval. If, like us, you devour your puddings pre-performance, order a drink (much needed half way through a nail-biting acrobatic act of Cirque du Soleil) or polish off your wine, which Coda will even keep on ice.
Two courses for £39, three courses for £45 excluding wine. See the Coda website at www.royalalberthall.com for more information.