Address: Corinthia, 10a Northumberland Ave, Westminster, London WC2N 5AE
Bookings: Booked through Bookatable on a set menu £45 bottomless champagne
The Northall restaurant is situated in the impressive and imposing Corinthia Hotel, on the corner of Northumberland Avenue and Whitehall Place. Many are the evenings back in my student days when I wandered past the building on the way to some insalubrious watering hole around Leicester Square, and wondered about the grand things that doubtless took place within its walls.
Having now eaten there for a friend’s birthday, I can confirm that the cooking and serving of nice food is not one of those things. If the restaurant has a defence, it might be that we had selected to eat off its set-menu, and so perhaps the kitchen was teeming with delicious dishes that we simply didn’t have access to. But I doubt it. And besides, a set menu should be a discount on the price, not the quality, of a restaurant’s food.
Compounding this, the set menu we actually received upon arrival was materially different to that which had been advertised online: the steak we had been promised had vanished, and been replaced by a piece of chicken. When we asked the waiter if we could substitute the chicken for a steak, we were told that we could, but only if we paid an additional £18, which is the basically the full-price of a steak. The economics of this suggestion was not appealing, so chicken it was.
We were not particularly varied in our orders. If memory serves me right, each person at the table ordered smoked salmon to start with, and chicken to follow. The smoked salmon was decent enough, if a little thin and insipid. It was accompanied by a small bread roll, which looked for all the world like a burnt potato. It made a sad companion for the flamboyantly coloured salmon.
The chicken breast was tolerable, but absolutely miniscule, and wouldn’t have provided enough calories to satisfy a dieting mouse. It was also rubbed in some sort of curry paste, and as I have mentioned on more than one occasion, spice of any sort is my partner in culinary crime’s kryptonite. With a tear in her eye and a rumble in her stomach, she pushed the meagre morsel of chicken away from her.
After finishing with a fruit and meringue dessert, we were presented with a pretty hefty bill. All in all, I was disappointed with Northall; it promised so much from the outside. Afterwards we walked up Northumberland Avenue towards the Hippodrome Casino, where a more transparent sort of rip-off takes place.