Cora Pearl Review Covent Garden

The squad who gave us the stellar Kitty Fisher’s in Mayfair have opened their second restaurant, Cora Pearl, of Covent Garden which launched on June 18th 2018. Just like Kitty Fisher’s, they’re keeping the theme of naming their restaurant after a spicy British courtesan, that’s a high-class hooker if in doubt – so the name Cora Pearl was chosen. Cora was from Covent Garden, but she was a “courtesan of the French demimonde who enjoyed her greatest celebrity during the period of the Second French Empire” according to Wikipedia. Saucy minx. They aim to please here by using influences from both the British and French facets of Cora’s life, so British food with French sensibilities? Sounds good to me.

We get the saliva glands going with some decent olives £3.5

Then the devilled eggs £3.50 – sometimes you really can’t beat a classic nd it’s a classic done well here.

And onto the bread £3.50 with yeasted butter. It’s sour dough and the key points of being a good one is nailing the depth of crunch in the crust along with a lacy, almost sticky centre. It’s got it all. Slathered with yeasty butter it becomes even more appealing.

Expertly done cows curd agnolotti £11.50 come next and are placed on a thick slather of sweet Jerusalem artichoke, then it get’s a good shaving of potent cheese, crisp Jerusalem artichoke crisps and truffle. Pasta cooking is one of their strengths here.

Cured salmon £8 came with sour cream with a mini well of herby oil, apple gel, and a mouth puckering pile of pickled cucumber. It was luxury on a plate.

The moment I savoured the most though from the smaller courses was with the cheese and ham toastie with a pot of homemade pickle. How can something so brazenly simple be so delightful? Three expertly cut sandwiches, the size of two digits each, crust cut-off are filled with sticky, oozing ham and cheese. There’s not a lot not to like about it. You’ll notice a courtesan on the end of the spoon – is that Cora Pearl?

Smoked eel with horse radish and beetroot £13 – a proven combination.

Here’s the veal fillet with celeriac and bordelaise £26 – the lucky diner who had it reported back positively.

I went for the fish stew £23 with croutons – it came with the freshest gurnard, scallops, clams and mussels – it’s the seductive coastal air right on a plate in Covent Garden. The whole thing is given attitude with a pour of crab bisque with enough sweet depth to let you know everything comes from the deep ocean.

Here’s the crouton it comes with, it get’s a mound of punchy cheese.

Seeing that it was close to Christmas, sprouts and bacon £5 was on the menu and of course on our table.

What stopped the clock from the sides was the simply named dish “chips”. But they were much more than that – in fact they were pure wow. These could be the saviour of the restaurant, bringing it back to life from Covid. Witness: finely sliced potatoes left to loiter in oven, then the layers are pressed and cooled before being cut into 4in planks. Then they’re fried to an amber-tinged golden. Each one is like a dozen of the best chips ever, pressed together with crunch to their core. It is the humble spud elevated to grandeur levels and eclipses anything else I’ve had.

Behold, the milk and cookies £8; still warm broken up doughy chocolate chipped cookies, come with piped viscous chocolate, on top, as if it’s not enough you’ll get whipped cream with the slightest wobble and a good dusting of coco. It’s a desert that firmly tattoos itself in your mind.

Caramelised apple mille fuelle £8 come with pastry that shatters beneath the teeth, piped caramel and apple gel. On top there’s a luscious evaporated milk ice cream – you’d think things won’t get better but they do.

I went over to the semi open kitchen to congratulate the chef on cooking such profound potatoes and he returned the favour by giving us another portion on the house!

During visit two – we ate upstairs

It would be ludicrously rude not to order the ham and cheese toastie £8 with that pickle I kept spooning into my mouth like no one was watching.

The cured salmon with sour cream £9

Here is the glazed pig cheeks £12.50 in all its decadent majesty with decent cauliflower piccalilli with a crown of a panko armoured onion ring. Yes it was bloody delightful.

The fish stew with croutons £23.

The very definition of crab bisque!

This is their squash risotto £18 with a crispy egg, fragrant herb oil and paper thin chestnut mushrooms. The whole plate is full of nutty notes and indulgence for a non meat eater, or a meat eater who enjoys having a 5 minute breather from meat – me.

How do you make a humble broccoli compelling? Scorch it and douse it with crunchy almond sauce.

The “chips” £5 – the things to behold, failing to order these when you’re here would be the ultimate cardinal sin.

Milk and cookies – everything about it just resonates with me, it’s a wonder of softness, decadence and crunch.

Fast forward one lock-down later and I’m back for the 3rd visit.

We hydrate with bottles of Schiehallion and bloody Mary’s. Don’t mind if I do.

Bread and butter £2.50 is an integral part of any meal out – this one tasted like it was made from wholemeal – sourdough bread fuels the production of good bacteria in your gut don’t you know. We found ourselves slathering the lacy bread with the softened whipped butter.

Cod croquettes at £2 a pop were compelling crisply panko coated snacks tasting of the best fish pie. Rich but not so garlicky aioli was the lubricator and everything get’s a good dusting of onion ash. They were fiendishly good.

If the devilled eggs £3.50 are on the menu, don’t be a fool and order them.

The same goes for their ham and cheese toastie £9.50 – as you can tell I’m definitely into the humble sandwich they make into something completely engrossing.

The gnocchi with king oyster mushrooms receives the Maillard reaction, then they get a drizzle of peppery olive oil, a grating of parmessan and some dollops tarragon pesto. It’s testament to multiple ingredients that make the choir sing. Let’s not forget about the garnish of slightly pickled shii-meji mushrooms.

Chicken sweet corn and black garlic £25 was a dish from the mains and I can endorse it too. The chicken is cooked well, we get a piece of pressed thigh and breast with skin expertly rendered to a crisp thin layer, rested and packing luscious flavour with a good amount of tension. Lubricants are piped black garlic full of toffee notes, a fragrant green oil, rich chicken jus and luxurious corn grits.

It would be criminal to not order the chips £6, my god I left it too long.

I’m on my merry way after a shot of espresso.

During an October in 2021 evening on a loose end I managed to snag a table without a booking before the evening rush.

We get down to business with a beetroot salad with anchovies and dill £9.5.  It’s focused on beetroot two ways: in chunks, arranged like pebbles on the ground, hiding under miraculously thin slices that still have bite. The sweetness of the beetroot is caressed with the salinity of the anchovies. It adds the deepest of caramel tones to the salty hit. 

And yeah, I keep ordering the cheese toastie as it’s an alluring classy piece of work that keeps me coming back here.

The roast squash with onion broth, petals of green flecked pickled onions and chive £8.5 was nice albeit quite forgettable and probably not objectively good.

We also get the devilled white bait with lemon mayo £8, a pub classic that demands you to reach in with your fingers to dip and inhale.

We can’t go without the fish stew and croutons with a snow mound of cheese £25. It’s a dish lubricated with only joy and equal brilliance which is why it’s been on the menu every time I have come here.

The same goes for the chips £6, an orgy of finely sliced confit potato, pressed with garlic, herbs and then deep fried. They’re profound. Of course they are. How could they not be?


When did I go? Nov 2018, Feb 2019, Sept 2020, Oct 2021.
The damage: Expect to pay £65/80 per head with drinks
The good: There’s lots of little surprises that I want to go toe-to-toe with again, there’s nothing that disappoints. The fish stew, toastie and chips are just unmissable. Cora Pearl is one of those rare restaurants that cook everything with graceful poise – they just can’t put a foot wrong.
The bad: There’s no niggles to complain about.
Rating: 4.5/5
Would I go again? Come on, it’s a rhetorical question right?
Address: 30 Henrietta St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8NA

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