Rebecca Milford loves a good excuse for brunch – so when she learnt of a champagne jazz experience offered by the Northall restaurant in The Corinthia Hotel, there was no stopping her.
Brunch at Northall restaurant, Corinthia Hotel
In three words: Melodious, Elegant, Sumptuous
The Lowdown: So many superlatives could be used to describe the brunch at Northall – and the three I’ve chosen aim to summarise both the menu and the stunning room in which diners find themselves. Sumptuous luxury abounds – it is part of the rather divine Corinthia hotel – and this is the first ever three course brunch menu I have been confronted with. After the experience then I am a hearty advocate indeed.
The Sunday Jazz Brunch is a concept offered by the Corinthia hotel for those wanting to step into a shimmering world of refinement for a few hours, or guests of the hotel descending from their rooms. With an extensive menu and option of either a glass of champagne or free-flowing bubbles, then it’s no wonder the Northall is elevating this meal into legendary status.
Location: Right in the midst of London, near Embankment, Whitehall Gardens and the Thames. It’s surrounded by examples of great British architecture, and is enough to make your heart sing with love for the city. We walked off our meal afterwards with a stroll past Westminster Abby, glowing honey-coloured and magnificent in the late afternoon light.
The Occasion: Ladies – come for a long, languorous girly brunch where bubbles reign supreme. Gents – bring your better half (and perhaps even her mother for extra partner-points) and not only will you have a brunch-time feast to fill you up, but champagne mellows everybody out.
Decor: The Northall exudes chic glamour – aqua-coloured menus provide a pop of freshness against studded deep-caramel leather banquettes, there’s star-burst lighting and huge windows letting light flood inside, while the mezzanine level and impressive staircase make it feel you could be in some insanely grand house in the Hamptons.
Atmosphere: The live jazz makes for a soothing air and completely transports you to another world. There’s a sense of being removed from the reality of everyday life here – it’s a tranquil haven, and the laughter and contented hum of conversation reflects this.
Culinary Concept: Strictly speaking, it’s not an archetypical ‘brunch’ menu – in fact they could be playing a little fast and loose with the term. I mean, one of the main courses is a full Sunday roast, and you can also have sea bass and a beef burger. But there are some classic items such as Eggs Benedict and waffles with bacon, and the general idea is to start early and then while away the afternoon indulging in sumptuous delights of the highest quality. Brunch equals decadence, and that’s exactly what this is. Oh, plus there’s the lure of fizz, of course.
What we tried: It certainly wasn’t the typical start to a day – but then Corinthia is no typical establishment. A dozen rock oysters and beef tartar were the rather unusual initial fodder, but when one is also washing it down with Laurent-Perrier champagne then anything goes. And I would recommend these choices to anyone – the rock oysters were huge, glistening and gargantuan in their shining shells, and definitely as good as any I’ve experienced in dedicated seafood restaurants. The beef tartar was a disc of succulent and expertly seasoned meat, bound with the sticky unctuous egg yolk and delivering a real sense of the quality of meat with each mouthful.
For my main course I succumbed to Sunday tradition and plumped for roast beef which, delivered with skill, was the perfect balance of hearty-classic-meets-refined dish. Slabs of prime pink Lake District Farm Native Angus Beef were served with a pot of delicious gravy, a puff of Yorkshire pudding (superb), buttered greens and roast potatoes, the golden crust of which yielded to a steaming, fluffy interior. It ticked every single box. My dining partner couldn’t resist the promise of succulent lobster, served with shards of crunchy gold fries that were attacked with gusto.
The desserts were almost too pretty to eat – a combination of coconut sponge, dabs of mousse and tropical fruit was my choice and transported me to an exotic island far away, while the caramel and chocolate creation across the table was the ideal, naughty way to end this sensational meal.
For next time: The dressed crab with pickled beetroots, avocado purée and ricotta looked delicious, as did the Loch Var Smoked salmon with toasted brioche and scrambled egg. I could happily try everything on the menu.
Veggie delights: There are certainly vegetarian options, such as parsnip velouté for a starter and the exciting sounding braised coco bean risotto with chestnuts for a main. They won’t feel shortchanged!
Best of the booze: We started with a Bloody Mary since it was brunch, and a mean one too – packing a punch and frosted to perfection. From then on bubbles were the order of the afternoon, all topped up with barely a nudge from the attentive and professional waiting staff. I was also recommend a superb Scaramanga red with my beef – jammy, fruity, and ideal with meat.
Overall: It takes a high level of skill to create an atmosphere that is refined, seductive and yet relaxed all at once – which is what the Northall have pulled off with aplomb. This is partly down to the staff, partly the gorgeous jazz notes flowing through the restaurant, and partly a menu that offers favourite dishes made with skill. We could have spent the entire afternoon there – we almost did, in fact – and the contented poses of other diners suggested this was a mutual feeling. Visit, enjoy, and be similarly enchanted.