Cora Pearl in Covent Garden: A cosy yet classy dining experience
Cora Pearl might pass unnoticed even for those familiar with Covent Garden’s dining scene; at first glance, there’s nothing particularly eye-catching compared to some of the popular restaurants on Henrietta Street. But don’t be deceived by its apparent simplicity, it’s definitely worth the stop. As their website states, it’s indeed an “ideal pre-theatre restaurant in Covent Garden”.
Named after the 19th-century French courtesan – a bit like their sister operation, Kitty Fisher’s – it exudes classiness and Parisian glamour: from the choice of paintings to the amber light and wooden furniture. It’s the perfect place to have a cosy dinner in style.
Speaking of cosiness, the menu is also nicely in sync with the overall intimate vibe of the place. Serving British classics with a French/European twist, Cora Pearl managed to surprise us with their prime veal meat, refreshing fish courses and a selection of unusual European wine.
The à la carte offer is actually wider than the one on their website. Among the starters we had the pleasure of trying, over a glass of Valencian red, were the Whisky and Orange-Cured Salmon and the Smoked Haddock and Eel Chowder. Although both were greatly presented and quickly served, there was a small imbalance in their taste. The salmon was maybe a bit too citrusy for those looking into a cleaner, purer fish flavour. When it came to the chowder, all the aromas matched perfectly, however the plate itself needed a bit more haddock and eel in order to fully be enjoyed. We found comfort in the delicious Cow’s Curd Agnolotti, Jerusalem Artichoke and Truffle.
Going into the mains, we were recommended to have the fish stew – one of their signature dishes – and the veal with celeriac mousse (choices we really don’t regret making). The veal was just superb: tender, smokey and cooked medium-rare, to perfection. We had this with a side of the house chips, a must-order, and the croutons for the stew, covered in aioli and shredded parmesan cheese.
As we finished our second glass of wine – a Bordeaux Haut-Médoc 2015 from Châteu Micalet this time around – and ate the last bit of the veal, smothered in celeriac goodness, our appetite (and taste buds) were already pretty satisfied, However, at The Upcoming, we are big fans of dessert, no matter how full one might be.
Cora Pearl’s sweet menu is composed of five options: a cheese platter (the Isle of Mull); a French gastronomy classic, Pain Perdu; their popular Milk and Cookies; Neapolitan Ice Cream; and the classic petit fours, which, originating from the 18th-century, keep the menu in touch with its French roots. With no gas ovens at the time of the courtesan, boulangers had to make the most of the decreasing heat after baking the bread, and they would cook these smaller-sized pastries.
On this occasion, we went for the Pain Perdu and Milk and Cookies; the latter was probably one of our favourite puddings in a while. Built from a homemade cookie base and chocolate mousse, then covered in a thick sweet cream, the combo blew our minds. Straight forward, beautifully presented and consistent, yet not heavy on the stomach.
All in all, Cora Pearl’s comforting signature dishes and distinctive Parisian vibe left a really positive and unique impression. It may be marketed as a great option for theatre nights out, but the reality is that it will do on any other evening, really.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Diogo Cruz (except fish stew)
To book a table at Cora Pearl, 30 Henrietta Street Covent Garden London WC2E 8NA, call 020 7324 7722 or visit their website here.