Having a successful older sibling can be an absolute pain in the arse. You spend years being physically and psychologically tormented. Your face being prod. Your unavoidable lack of life experience being mocked. And then, before you know it, you’re aspiring towards a benchmark set by them. The enemy.
Like it’s big sister, Kitty Fisher’s, over in Mayfair, Cora Pearl serves hearty food that’s been glammed-up in the best way possible. The ham and cheese toastie, for instance, doesn’t bear any Breville scars. Instead you’ve got three immaculately manicured fingers that are ready for a night on the town. The town being your mouth, where they won’t last very long. The menu here reads like the warm up to a nap on the sofa. One where your phone vibrates onto your eye and you wake up thinking you’re being tasered. From veal with bordelaise sauce, to a fish stew complete with a couple of brick-sized cheese-topped croutons, it’s stuff you’ll want to eat if you’re the kind of person who likes to eat everything.
But where Kitty Fisher’s is the sibling that’s been off at finishing school—back with an air of superiority that only a combination of butter and activated trust funds can bring—Cora Pearl feels like it’s trying to be a bit more metropolitan. For a start it’s in Covent Garden, one of those areas of the West End that’s always (exhaustingly) filled with people. But it seems made for this. Both the upstairs and downstairs rooms, whilst narrow, feel like they’re always prepared for a group. It’s a sofa and bar heavy restaurant. One that’s ready to move three tables into one at any given moment, with a cocktail shaker providing the soundtrack. Basically, where Kitty Fisher’s is the Duke of Wynborne, Cora Pearl is Don Draper.
That said, there’s something less assured about Cora Pearl. It feels torn between wanting to be just as decadent as its relation, but more accessible to every occasion. You get the feeling that a cosy anniversary dinner could be sandwiched between a couple of raucous birthday groups. And whilst that’s true of many restaurants, this place seems much more suited to the latter. But, as many an annoying sibling has said: the older you get, the more you realise you can’t be all things to all people. This is undoubtedly a very good restaurant. It’s just different from its big sister. And that’s okay.
Ham And Cheese Toastie With Pickle
Order enough of these and you could play the most delicious game of Jenga ever. Not that we advocate playing with your food of course.
Cow’s Curd Agnolotti
What can you say about a tasty bowl of pasta? Not much apart, from you won’t really want to share this.
We’re not really ones for punny menu items, but this is kind of entertaining. Kind of. It’s also kind of tasty, but not an essential.
Fish Stew And Croutons
This is one of those things that gets better and better once it cools down. Also, that gives more time for the cheesy-heavy croutons to soak up that stew.
Pork And Turnips
On paper there’s something a little bit farmer about this. A whiff of mothy jumpers and muddy boots. But it looks and tastes a lot less rough and ready than that.
Veal, Celeriac, Bordelaise Sauce
This is Cora Pearl’s finest pre-sofa, TV remote as a pillow, weird dreams narrated by David Dimbleby, main course. Very, very good.
These aren’t so much chips, as confit building blocks. The type of which will build the city of your potato-y dreams.
Broccoli And Almonds
You’re probably going to order more than one side here, but we reckon this is the one to get.
Milk And Cookies
Remember when you were a kid and you’d get (steal) a treat, and then peg-it to a cupboard to eat it in secret? No? Just us? Well this dessert will make you want to do that.
Just like in every Parisian cafe you dreamed about as a teenager, there’s usually a mille-feuille on here. And they’re very good.