The Connaught Grill, which closed in 2000 after 45 years, will reopen under the direction of the award-winning New York chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, early in the new year. In its heyday, the restaurant inside the luxury Mayfair hotel was among the capital’s most renowned and, according to an official announcement, “home to the original power players of the capital.”
The owners say the 2020 iteration will open with a contemporary design. “With a respectful nod to its distinguished heritage, the new Connaught Grill design will be a more contemporary interpretation under the direction of interior architect John Heah.” Heah is responsible for the recent nu-luxe designs at the Berkeley, the Connaught’s sister hotel in Knightsbridge.
Heah will focus on art and craftsmanship, incorporating the stunning organic works of George Nakashima Woodworkers in Pennsylvania. Nakashima’s daughter Mira will lead the project, “creating extraordinary signature wall panels, tables and chairs, most often to be seen and revered in museums.” They will be made bespoke for the new restaurant.
In a 1972 New York Times feature titled London Dining: It’s Not as Bad As People Say, Raymond A. Sokolov wrote “Perhaps the best place to start is the top. All honest men seem to agree that the Connaught Grill in the Connaught Hotel serves the finest meal in the British Isles.”
A lot has changed since then. And today, on the return of The Connaught Grill, co-owner Paddy McKillen said: “Ever since we started the project of restoring The Connaught way back in 2008, I have dreamt of breathing life back into The Connaught Grill, a mythical restaurant that somehow captures a special place in guests’ hearts.
“We are bringing the Grill back to be discovered by a new generation, a Connaught Grill of today not yesterday, using craftsmen and chefs of today, but with the spirit and old school charm of the legendary Connaught Grill.”
The 46-seater restaurant will be located on the ground floor of the hotel, a modern interpretation of a classic grill with an open kitchen, wood-burning grill and rotisserie serving largely British-sourced produce. The announcement noted ingredients such as langoustines and Dover sole, British game and seasonal vegetable dishes, along with a ‘daily special’ menu. The wine list draws from The Connaught’s wine cellar, which, as one might imagine, offers some really senior stuff.
“There will also be a homage to classics from the old Connaught Grill,” Vongerichten said. “Including, of course ‘Oeuf en surprise au Connaught’ which I remember so well on my first visit there. I am honoured to play a part in bringing The Connaught Grill back to life in London.”
The Connaught Grill will open early 2020. It will sit alongside Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s eponymous restaurant and Hélène Darroze’s two Michelin-starred restaurant Hélène Darroze at The Connaught.
The Maybourne Hotel Group, which includes both the Connaught and Berkeley hotels, is moreover the owner of Claridge’s on Davies Street in Mayfair. The flagship restaurant at that property is expected to open this month, bringing another famous New York name to the British capital. Chef Daniel Humm of Michelin-starred, one-time World’s 50 Best Restaurant Eleven Madison Park, will open Davies and Brook on the former site of Fera very soon.