Kitty Fisher’s in Mayfair is perhaps one of London’s most covered restaurants. The diminutive, atmospheric room on Shepherd Market made dairy beef trendy, captured global attention and launched the career of Tomos Parry, now presiding over one of the most lauded restaurants in the city. But for almost two years, a chef who courts much less attention, has been quietly maintaining the restaurant’s standard: George Barson, who had previously cooked at the River Cottage, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Viajante, and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen has subtly evolved the menu from its predominantly Basque style under Parry to a more orthodox modern British offering. A restaurant, Barson, says, he “has made his own.”
And now, under Barson, a sequel is in the offing. Cora Pearl is named for one of Europe’s most famous courtesans — just like Kitty Fisher’s — and sits on Henrietta Street, in the heart of Covent Garden. The food is familiar: Spartan, ingredient-led menu writing that teases relatable simplicity — cheese and ham toastie with ‘Branston’ pickle; a scalable, seasonal trifle — as much as deferent assembly of ingredients. There’s also a solid pun in the quail caesar!
The new restaurant is a little bigger — with 55 covers — than Kitty Fisher’s, but, and perhaps more notably, the kitchen will be significantly bigger. One of the reasons the original restaurant has been so celebrated is that its prep and cooking facility was so small, with almost everything coming from the dominant wood grill. The extra space in the new site has licensed Barson to offer greater variety — including more pastry — and smaller, lighter dishes, which he says are suited to the new location.
“It’s theatre land, so there are more tourists, so the price point, [too] has to be different,” Barson says. It’s not, in other words, Mayfair, so it has to be cheaper. It will also need to cater to the all-day dining market, offering champagne and snacks and all things in between the conventional meal time services of a restaurant.
His playful riffs on classic dish like the toastie and caesar salad have been created with a twin purpose: For their nostalgia and familiarity to those would-be walk-ins, but also to the food community who so revere Kitty Fisher’s. Hopefully, Barson, says, “it has universal appeal since they’re [recognisable but also] cheffy.”
Take a look inside what could become a Covent Garden classic.
Cora Pearl, 30 Henrietta Street WC2E 8NA | Opens 10 July 2018