London’s Corinthia Hotel & Massimo Italian Restaurant
Albert, our Maltese writer, suggested that I contact the Corinthia Hotel in London as it’s run by a Maltese Company and he’d recently visited their hotel in Malta.
I found it easily, just a five-minute walk from Embankment Underground.
It’s a huge, impressive building with a smart, be-hatted doorman waiting to open the door for me.
Unfortunately I was abandoned mid-door opening when a car arrived. Obviously guests in vehicles have priority over pedestrians. I suppose the parking time is strictly limited there.
The Corinthia is a 5-star luxury hotel. The Victorian building is 125 years old. Its style was copied from Parisian buildings, with lots of twirls and swirls on the outer walls.
It started life as the 600-roomed Hotel Metropole, which was a favourite with European Royalty.
The Government took it over during World War l and finally bought it in 1936. The Ministry of Defence used it for the next 70 years.
Rumour has it that Room 801 was where all the records of UFO sightings were stored!
Corinthia bought the building in 2008 and turned it back into a hotel, preserving a lot of the original features amongst all their modernisation.
It now has 294 rooms, including 40 suites and seven penthouses, with wonderful views of London.
The grand ballroom is where the James Bond film Skyfall’s launching party was held.
Entering the foyer, I could see up some steps ahead of me the Full Moon Chandelier, known as the Chandelier With 1001 Crystals, in the Lobby Lounge.
Leading off the lounge is the Garden Lounge, the most amazing indoor/outdoor area that I’ve ever seen! It has a fireplace at each end and a huge glass canopy over the top.
Smoking is permitted there, including the hotel’s selection of 53 varieties of cigars.
It has a bar, and meals and snacks are served.
Sitting there, it’s hard to believe that I was minutes away from Trafalgar Square and Parliament!
Oh you must see Bassoon, the bar! It serves theatrically-created cocktails, and there’s live music every night from both famous and unknown performers.
But the showpiece is the bar, which is an extension of a grand piano!
We went in to Massimo, the Italian restaurant. After we’d finished admiring the mosaic floor, we were shown to our table, which had very comfortable seats.
The tables are well-spaced out, and not squashed on top of each other, so everyone has plenty of space for private conversations.
Andrea, the enthusiastic Naples chef, pops in and out all the time to chat and make sure that everything is alright.
Cooking is in his blood. His Grandfather made a cake for the 16-year-old Queen when she was in South Africa.
Andrea was recently on Celebrity Masterchef. He worked for Georgio Locotelli for many years.He’s a great character!
There are 20 chefs in the two kitchens. They’re all Italian. They have a briefing from Andrea in the morning and again at the end of their shift.
He teaches them to make smaller quantities so that there’s no wastage.
They make literally everything!
The menu contains dishes from all over Italy. We decided to leave the choice up to Andrea, to his delight!
First, the bread basket arrived – with EIGHT different kinds of home-made bread!
There was Foccacia, which is freshly-made every morning, a crispy bread from Sardinia, rye bread, Tuscany white bread, a gorgeous sweet caramalised garlic bread, and schiacciata white bread, which has many variations. We had one with courgettes and Pecorino cheese, and one with aubergine.
A very interesting olive oil was served with the bread. It’s called Etna and it comes from Sicily.
Two long dishes came next with a selection of antipasti.
Andrea told us what they all were. He likes to mix hot and cold dishes.
We had Aubergine Parmigiana with smoked cheese. The flavour hits you at once!
Buffalo Mozzarella wih frisella bread,
Octopus salad with lemon scented potato puree,
A selection of cured meat from all over Italy,
Genovese sauce & fried leek. This is a peasant dish. The poor used to have it with a little meat and lots of vegetables,
Pumpkin & amaretto, which was lovely and unusual,
Next, Julie had the Roast Monkfish with walnuts & samphire. I love samphire!
Mike had Pan-roasted guinea fowl with potatoes & black truffle from Perugia.
They grated the black truffle at the table and gave him loads!
It’s the end of the black truffle season in Italy and now the white ones start.
I had the day’s special; venison with a chocolate sauce.
It is of course a popular South American addition in their Moles and gives a delicious background flavour.
We had a large selection of side dishes of vegetables.
I loved the fried courgettes which are cut like matchsticks.
Now it was time for Andrea’s Grand finale. Out he came with a couple of the chefs, pushing a trolly laden with bowls.
We watched in amazement as they all criss-crossed each other, preparing our pud.
When they’d finished, we stared at their creations.
We had Tiramisu – but what a Tiramisu! It had side additions of Nutella, Cinnamon and Orange ice-creams, all home-made of course.
The other dish was a Lemon Eton Mess, covered in a large yellow sugar balloon, which Andrea smashed with a spoon.
Spoilsport. I wanted to do it!
Of course we had to finish with a Limoncillo. After all, it was an Italian meal!
Then Andrea took me for a tour of their two kitchens.
Each chef has their own work area, and they all seemed happy, which is unusual for chefs!
We enjoyed our Massimo experience. It’s a great venue for a long, leisurely lunch or dinner.
The staff are all happy and helpful, and the food is original Italian food with a twist.
And of course, the Corinthian is a wonderful building in a very convenient situation for a stay in London.