Corbin & King: A farewell to Brasserie Zédel’s steak haché
Published 05 April 2022

Steak Haché. Credit: Brasserie Zedel

Josh Barrie, editor of Knife & Fork Media, pays tribute to Brasserie Zédel

A few months ago, I asked the restaurateur Jeremy King if the recipe for peppercorn sauce had changed at Brasserie Zedél, a place then under his stewardship. He told me it had not and obviously I believed him – my mouth must’ve been having a peculiar day or something. Anyway I enquired because Zédel’s peppercorn sauce is quite important to me. It’s important because it is poured over the chopped steak, the haché, and is a silky dip for the restaurant’s noble French fries. Also, the haché and its sauce go so comfortably with the house red and happens to be the perfect second round to the opening gambit, the shredded carrots, which are always dressed tidily, much like the staff, for whom I now fear.

The news last week that Minor had bought the entirety of Corbin & King was met with only displeasure. Later, when it became apparent that Mr King had been banned from the restaurants he had so dutifully helped build, sadness and anger followed.
The Wolseley has been the most talked about restaurant over the last week and rightly so – it is, or was now I suppose, the Corbin & King flagship, the haunt of so many reputable names. I will miss it like everybody else but most of all I’ll miss Zédel and its steak haché. This might be because I’m a simple man. It’s also because I am so grateful for the fact you can buy the dish and its preceding carrots for £12.25. There is bread and butter too of course. All in all it’s cheaper than a Five Guys or six luxury yoghurts from M&S.
London is an expensive city. When I first started working in it as a journalist, I hardly earned enough to live. Never mind that I found cheap rent in Crystal Palace in exchange for helping look after a cat – breakfast at The Wolseley was not a regular occurrence. Zédel’s haché arrived in front of my greedy face much more frequently and sometimes with live jazz and a bottle of £25 house wine.
I do not know how many times I’ve taken advantage of the deal. Countless. I’ve had it at lunch time with a beer on my own. I’ve had it before jumping on the Piccadilly line to journey on to Heathrow. I’ve had it with friends on a chilly Wednesday evening and I’ve had it spontaneously with colleagues after a few Thursday drinks. Zédel: there for mid-month plans; there on the off chance you’re in town and feeling hungry.
A lot of people are now declaring their decision to avoid ex-Corbin & King institutions and I can’t imagine I’ll visit any of them anymore either. And so, quite abruptly, my time running French fries through affordable peppercorn sauce, all the while sitting next to glorious marble pillars in a room which can only be described as A Vibe, has come to an end.

There we are then. Goodbye, Zédel. Thank you for feeding me when I was young and poor but still chasing whatever it is we’re all looking for.