The lovely Cora Pearl, just outside of Covent Garden, is named for “a 19th century courtesan who started her career in Covent Garden and ended up as the Queen of Parisian nightlife. She was both notorious and yet very refined, able to capture the hearts and fortunes of both naive young bloods and seasoned statesmen alike. Famed for her wit and her lithe sensuality, she bathed in onyx baths and had herself presented at dinner parties on a huge silver platter with parsley covering her modesty!”
“She also became a wonderful savior to wounded and dying soldiers during the Siege of Paris by the Prussians in 1870, turning her palace on the Champs Elysee into a hospital. After that she returned to England, famously being ejected from the Grosvenor Hotel by a manager furious to discover that the ‘Lady’ who’d been staying there in luxury for a week was actually the notorious courtesan, Cora Pearl. She wrote her memoirs to try and boost her dwindling income, and finally died in 1886. What a life!”
So between this historical bad betch story coupled with a rumor that the restaurant had the best chips in all of London, I was in!
The vibe is sort of old timey romantic with velvet banquets, muted colors, coupes and antique glassware, and flowers on every table.
The chips were EPIC. Absolutely worthy of their best in show review. They came six to an order which sounds like few, but they were quite literally bricks of (unfortunately I overheard “buttersoaked) potatoes. Out of this world. The very helpful manager helping me fine tune my order was suggesting one order for two people at the tables around me… so I made myself stop at eating three…OK, maybe four….
The main part of my order consisted of their fish stew, apparently something that has never left their menu. I’m not sure I’ve ever had fish stew and had visions of cipollini dancing in my head, but committed. Boy was I wrong. This was an elegant crab base, a few mussels, spot of cod, and spot of turbot. The whole deconstructed dish comes with two very large croutons topped with Parmesan meant to melt into the soup. This was absolutely fantastic, not to mention the amazing base served as an excellent fry dipping sauce.
It was so delicious in fact, that I returned the very following day to thank the chefs in the kitchen personally and do it all again.
Cora Pearl is a new staple in London for me and I look forward to returning each and every visit. Maybe I’ll bring a friend so that we can share their very tempting dessert of “cookies and milk” which appeared to be the most over-the-top cookie sundae I’ve ever eyeballed from a table next door.