The team behind Kitty Fisher’s opened a second site this month, and following in the same vein as its big sister it is also named after a courtesan - although this one is Parisian.
Executive chef George Barson is juggling two jobs as he continues to head up the kitchen at Kitty Fisher’s. Barson took over from Tomos Parry, who left the Mayfair restaurant to start his own place in Shoreditch. The original owners Oliver Milburn, Tom Mullion and Tim Steel still oversee both businesses actively.
At 55 covers, Cora Pearl is slightly larger than its Mayfair sister, and its two storeys exude two very different atmospheres. On the ground floor, the bright and compact dining space is classic, with a handful of tables and a counter dining space that appears to seat a maximum of two. Downstairs, darker lighting and a glowing open kitchen create a slightly more bourgeois energy. Its location, just on the fringe of Covent Garden's piazza, means the restaurant has high footfall without being over-busy.
The menu is separated into ‘while you wait’ bites such as olives and bread and yeasted butter; snacks; starters; and mains. The dishes from the first two sections are suited to sharing, and descriptions don’t give much away. A ‘cheese and ham toastie’ comes as three compact and balanced ham hock sandwiches, with a house-made pickle to mimic Branston’s. Fish stew sounds like one of the simplest options, but turns out to be the most picturesque menu item, comprising a selection of well-cooked fish, clams and langoustine. Sides of chips are not to be missed, and for a vegetarian the ricotta agnolotti with peas and summer truffle is a strong meat-free option. Elsewhere, a ‘quail Caesar’ is an interesting take on the classic salad.
The drinks offering is succinct, comprising a respectable Old-World wine list, and a longer list of spirits and cocktails. Martinis are served ice-cold in antique French glasses, and cocktails all contain a French twist, as seen in the ‘French Pearl’ made with pastis; and the ‘Chaine d’Or’ comprising gin, Quinquina, Chartreuse and lime.
And another thing
The choice of location for Kitty Fisher’s sister is an interesting one, given that Covent Garden has been undergoing seismic shifts since the start of the year. It joins a stellar line-up of restaurants including Frog by Adam Handling; Jidori from Aussie chef Brett Redman; and the newly opened (and long awaited) Petersham Nurseries, which comprises two restaurants and a shop.