One of the best meals I've had in years.
I have a mixed opinion about this restaurant. The food was really very good and we had some very memorable dishes. However, the service felt a little rushed and not polished enough for the prices that we were paying.
The amuse bouches and bread came out at the same time. We had a glass of champagne each, but there were no options to choose from. Whenever I indulge in a glass of champagne at a fancy restaurant, I'm usually reminded about how much I love champagne. However, in this case, it just felt like another glass of sparkling wine. Nice, but not indulgent.
We both had the snail ravioli with Bayonne ham & garlic croutons, as our entree. It was actually hard to make our choice as there were a few tempting alternatives: lobster bisque, hot fois gras with chicory & Sauternes and langoustine tortellini with langoustine broth. We genuinely felt joy when the entree arrived. It looked delicious and it proved to be so.
For my main, I had the pig's trotter stuffed with sweetbreads & morels. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was again impressed by how the dish looked when it arrived. You get a trotter as thick as your arm and a big quinelle of mashed potato with a pancetta chip planted on top. The trotter itself was gelatinous goodness, which my knife easily cut through. The sweetbreads and morels were like prizes. I was pleased with my choice. My wife had the roast grey partridge with Koffman's cabbage (which was one of the plats du jour). There were a few bones which made it difficult to eat and it would have been better with some crispiness.
For dessert, I had the lemon tart with lemon sorbet and my wife had the pistachio souflee. The souffle took 15 minutes to prepare, but we were not worried about the wait as we were enjoying our wine. When the desserts came out, I was really jealous of the souflee! The lemon tart was fine, but I really would have preferred the souffle. Luckily for me, my wife was generous enough to share a few spoonfuls with me.
I can't compliment Koffman's enough. The food, service and ambiance were second to none, but all executed with grace and not in the slightest bit pretentious. The signature dish, pig trotters are indeed excellent, but quite rich. The pistachio soufflé is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. We went for a Sunday lunch and it was a joy from start to finish. Flawlessly prepared French food. Well worth a visit.
for full review (as part of London Restaurant Festival overview) visit grumblinggourmet.com
Taking over the old Boxwood Cafe site wasn't a particularly challenging return for Pierre Koffmann, doyen of 80's expense account cooking and London's first holder of three Michelin stars. The site has hardly changed since Ramsay's departure, still a library-like space of silk and grey. The hushed reverential surrounds feel fitting for the former owner of Tante Claire and darling of the nascent gourmet restaurant scene, but it feels at odds with his gutsy French cuisine.
If you do go to Koffmann's, and go I think you should, then their £22 three course lunch menu is available all week and is very good value, though you don't get to try the unctuous pig's trotters stuffed with mushroom and sweetbread that made Chef Koffmann's reputation. This is worth a trip of its own.
For full review and pictures: bit.ly/cocxgo So we turned up at noon on a beautiful Sunday to Koffman's at the Berkeley Hotel and were promptly shown into the brand new restaurant. It is remarkably spacious despite having 120 covers; the tables were well spaced and sufficiently large to accommodate plates and elbows. The décor is fairly muted with the occasional large photographs of ingredients (I had a bowl of apples in front of me) and some flowers scattered throughout. There was also a bar with a bookcase across it (rather weird combination for me) in the middle of the restaurant. An amuse-bouche of filo pastry topped with olives and onions soon appeared. It was fairly disappointing, being quite mild in flavour and the flavours itself weren't particularly impressive either. Not a good start. A basket of bread soon appeared, mostly sour dough. Although not made in-store today, apparently that will soon change once everything gets running in full swing. Nice and warm, the bread was pretty decent but the soft light butter upstaged it. Snails, girolles, garlic and mashed potatoes. WB: What's that at the bottom?Pig: Mashed potatoes.WB: Can't be. It's so light, like a mousse, almost airy. Doesn't feel like potato at all. But oh yes it was, with the soft tender morsels of snails accented with garlic. The green foam topping was made of parsley although the taste isn't really evident. Still a good starter though, great to eat. Potted foie gras with baguette. The terrine was nice and rich with lots of foie taste. However, the baguette was a change from the usual toasted bread which I'm a bit undecided on whether it's good or not. The density of the baguette attempted to dwarf the taste of the terrine at times and it was actually pretty filling as well. Accompanying the terrine were little cubes of rather insignificant jelly. Pig's trotter stuffed with sweetbreads & morels. One of Koffman's signature dishes, this is not something for the faint of heart (or anyone with a significant cardiovascular risks). I got a funny thing about braised trotters I love the porky goodness and inevitable gooey sauce the cooking produces, but I can't stand the inevitable fats of the dish. We normally swap plates at the halfway stage but I could only stomach a mouthful before needing to trade plates back; whilst I can appreciate the soft bubbly fat and the sweetbread filling inside, together in combination they proved far too much for me. The PigPig however, a true fan of the fats, absolutely loved this dish especially the rich thick gravy. The mashed potatoes were also incredibly rich and creamy but unlike Robuchon's, also very buttery which can be a good or bad thing; myself I preferred Robuchon's version. Roasted rabbit with Dijon mustard. Although cooked a little bit more than I would have preferred, it still remained fairly tender. We were told the filling was of chicken liver and morels but to be honest it tasted more like mince pork to us. Still, the jus was full of flavour and I enjoyed the entire dish although the mustard was quite mild as well. The vegetables scattered about the plate served its purpose to distract me and provide different tastes/textures without being particularly interesting. Three side dishes were provided as well. The French fries were truly outstanding being crunchy on the outside but fluffy on the inside despite being so skinny. The broccoli was overcooked to me while I found the last plate of carrots and peas too buttery although the PigPig quite liked it. Pistachio soufflé with pistachio ice-cream. Despite being warned there would be a 20 minute wait for the soufflé, we couldn't resist ordering another of Koffman's signature dishes. The extra large soufflé had lots of pistachio flavour and weirdly what felt like marzipan as well. The accompanying ice cream was also great, but unfortunately melted fairly rapidly. Champagne bombe with Guinness sorbet. A ball of Guinness sorbet, wrapped in champagne ice cream, topped with champagne sorbet, all sitting on a layer of champagne jelly does this not sound awesome? My only wish is for more of the jelly although I suppose it could have been a bit too filling if more was present. We finished off with a cup of filtered coffee. More to the PigPig's interest was the petit fours of rose macaron, bitter chocolate fudge and rose marshmallow. Altogether the bill came up to £55 per person for a three course meal each, a cup of coffee and tap water. It only opened 3 weeks (and 2 days) on the day of our visit (08/08/10) and as our waitress explained, they were still working out some kinks. We didn't really notice any such issue during our visit though as service throughout was prompt and attentive. The staff also seemed quite friendly and seemed quite keen for feedback on the food; we didn't advertise that we were bloggers but it's a bit hard to hide a DSLR at times. We were invited to have a peep at the open plan kitchen to see Monsieur Koffman at work
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