City in review: Cord by Le Cordon Bleu
If you haven’t heard of Le Cordon Blue, where have you been hiding? The world-renowned culinary school is steeped in history and boasts a rich heritage spanning 120 years.
Their story began in January 1895 when French journalist Marthe Distel launched a weekly publication called La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu, the very first culinary magazine in France, which educated its readers with the most unique recipes for its time.
The publication grew more and more, culminating in the opening of a small Parisian cooking school in October of the same year, welcoming a limited number of students from all over the world.
In 1931, two former Parisian students took Le Cordon Bleu to London, where they founded L’Ecole du Petit Cordon Bleu. Over the years the school has gained international recognition and grown massively, moving several times to accommodate the growth of the business and becoming the fine establishment it is today – Le Cordon Blue London, based in Bloomsbury Square.
The collection of Le Cordon Bleu schools has become the largest training institution in the world, maintaining a presence of more than 25 schools in more than 18 countries.
Fast forward to 2022, and Le Cordon Bleu has opened the brand new CORD property, based in our own city of London. CORD by Le Cordon Bleu is London’s first gourmet restaurant created by the renowned culinary arts institute. But it’s much more than that – CORD is an all-in-one concept that also incorporates a cafe, cooking school and culinary event space. It is a true feast of gastronomy.
We were rightly delighted when we were invited to dine at the new venue. When we arrived at the Grade II listed Lutyens designed building, our coats and bags were kindly taken to the cloakroom, and we were guided to our table by very welcoming staff.
As we walked through the room, we were struck by the light and airiness of the space, with large windows to let in the sunlight and crisp white walls to reflect it. In keeping with tradition, classic Le Cordon Bleu blue and gold colors were in abundance, with gorgeous blue chairs and gold embellishments throughout the room.
Seated in our extremely comfortable teal armchairs, we were introduced to our evening server, Ayumu, and our sommelier, Sho. As CORD is a new concept, we were happily briefed on how the restaurant works and introduced to the A La Carte menu.
Sipping on sparkling water, we pondered the vast array of food and tried to decide on our drinks. Sho recommended that we opt for wine pairings with our dishes to bring out and complement the flavor profiles of each dish – we happily agreed!
Once we had decided on our starters and main courses (no small feat) bread was brought to the table for the wait – it was deliciously warm to the touch, soft inside and crispy on the outside. outside, and served with olive oil and butter.
When our starters arrived – heirloom tomatoes and razor clams au gratin – the CORD experience got off to a good start. Ayumu explained our dishes with such passion that it was hard not to inhale them immediately.
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Heirloom tomatoes might not sound like the most exciting starters, but CORD Executive Chef Christophe Marlex created a real wonder here – the dish contained a super fresh mix of red, orange and green tomatoes, bursting with richness and color on the plate.
Alongside the tomatoes, chickpea panisses, crisps, nasturtium and basil leaves, tomato syrup and basil oil provided an explosion of flavors, quite unlike anything we had tasted before.
Likewise, the razor clams did not disappoint. Served with button mushrooms, almonds and mustard, they had a unique and fragrant flavor profile and were so beautifully presented that we were quite sad when we were done eating them.
One thing we will say is that if you order any of the dishes above, be sure to save a serving of bread from the start of your meal. Trust us, you’ll want something to mop up the delicious juices left on the plate.
Along with our entrees also came our first wine pairings – a deliciously bubbly rosé champagne for heirloom tomatoes, perfectly complementing the crisp acidity of the dish. And for the clams, a true white that stands out – Organic Marlborough Chardonnay by small New Zealand-based growers Deep Down. It had notes of ripe stone fruit with tropical pineapple, complemented by a creamy texture and balanced by tangy acidity, ideal for seafood.
After a time of pause and digestion, our main courses were presented to us: risotto with small artichokes and wild arugula, pickled mushrooms and hazelnut praline, and beef rib steak with crispy potatoes, young salads and beef jus.
Once again our server introduced each dish, walking us through the ingredients, components and flavors. The risotto was a real sight to behold – beautifully green from the arugula pesto, with little pops of orange and white throughout.
The flavors worked some kind of magic on the tongue – the meal was both salty and sweet, as well as creamy and fresh at the same time. The mushroom pickles added that little bit extra, giving the dish even more prowess. It was accompanied by a crisp sauvignon blanc that was richer than most – the perfect drink to wash down the indulgent dish.
The steak was a work of art, laid out on the plate in small cubes with spirals of potato strewn about and slivers of lettuce striking boldly through the air. Accompanied by a bold red wine that complemented the richness of the meat, the beef was charred and tender with perfect texture and flavor. The potato wheels were soft in the middle and crispy on the outside. All in all, the combination was absolutely perfect.
After looking at the dessert menu, and asking Ayumu and Sho for their recommendations, we both opted for the panna cotta. And just like heirloom tomatoes weren’t just any tomatoes, panna cotta wasn’t just your average panna cotta.
Made with candied ginger, the dessert was served with delicious rose poached rhubarb, ginger crumble and tangy rhubarb sorbet. Who knew so many different flavors could work so well together? It was a marriage of tastes in the mouth.
In line with the sweetness of panna cotta, the beverage brought to us was a tasty dessert wine, slightly viscous in the mouth, with a sweet flavor to complement our final course.
After tweaking everything, we found ourselves chatting amongst ourselves and surprised by a special little treat in true French style – cones of petit fours filled with fruity berry compote and light cream. Served upright in jars of nuts, the candy was the perfect way to end our experience.
And really, dining at CORD is truly an experience, not just a restaurant meal. There is so much attention to detail and so much passion behind every choice that you feel completely immersed and enveloped in the care provided by the staff.
You are guided along a gastronomic journey where new flavor combinations are presented to you, challenging what you might consider usually working on a plate.
Everything from the sophisticated setting to the exceptional service was expertly executed and we will definitely be back. A perfect spot for a special occasion, CORD by Le Cordon Blue tops our lists for fine dining in the City of London.
85 Fleet Street EC4Y 1AE
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