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Restaurant inspired by British courtesan to open in Covent Garden

A restaurant from the founders of Kitty Fischer’s inspired by celebrated British courtesan Cora Pearl is to open in London’s Covent Garden this June.

Cora Pearl was one of the most celebrated courtesans in Paris

The 60-cover Henrietta Street site will be led by George Barson, head chef at Kitty Fisher’s, who will continue to head up both sites as executive chef.

His menu will combine simple classics with more decadent dishes that pay homage to Pearl’s British roots and the time she spend as a courtesan to pleasure seekers in 19th century Paris.

Born in Plymouth, Cora spent part of her youth living with her maternal grandmother in Covent Garden.

Moving to Paris in her early twenties, her first lover of distinction was the 25-year-old Victor Masséna, third Duke du Rivoli, who showered her with money, jewels, servants and a private chef. The liaison lasted five years.

By 1860, Pearl was one of the most celebrated courtesans in Paris and the mistress of Ludovic, Duc de Grammont-Caderousse, the Prince of Organge, and Charles Duc de Morny, Napoleon the thrid’s half-brother.

During the height of her fame she pitted her admirers against one other and was able to command as much as 10,000 francs for an evening in her company.

Among the dishes on the debut menu at Cora Pearl will be shrimp Newburg; leek heart with smoked eel; fish stew; confit pork belly with smoked quince; and wild strawberry and Earl Grey ice cream.

“The menu, cocktails and interiors have all been designed to encapsulate Cora’s decadent era and we hope the spirit of Cora Pearl herself will bring something that is totally unique and theatrically fitting to Covent Garden,” Barson said.

On the drinks front you’ll find contemporary twists on classic sip like the Chaine d’Or, featuring gin, Quinquina, Chartreuse and lime, and the French Pearl, which blends gin and pastis. Martinis will be served ice cold in antique French glasses.

The concise wine list shines a light on drops from the Old World, the most special of which will be available to try via Coravin.

Set in a townhouse, the interiors are inspired by Cora’s 19th-century life and include parquet flooring, dark textiles, upholstered wall-panels, tarnished mirrors and vintage lights. The lower ground floor houses the open kitchen and a cocktail bar with a late licence.

Sister restaurant Kitty Fischer’s is also named after a famous courtesan – Kitty Fisher ­– who enjoyed the attention of Sir Joshua Reynolds, who painted her portrait. She even managed to charm Italy’s infamous Casanova.

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