We chose Koffmans as our post Christmas treat. Pierre Koffmann ran the legendary 3 Michelin star La Tante Claire restaurant at The Berkeley until 2003, when he left to ‘go fishing’. He is now very much back on the London food scene, and back at The Berkeley.
Our first impression on entering the restaurant proper was a good one, although the stairs that take you down to the basement dining room, past the small bar area, are an accident waiting to happen.
Koffmann’s signature dishes include scallops with squid ink, braised pig’s trotter with morels, and pistachio soufflé with pistachio ice cream. So off course we made sure we ordered them. Indeed the waiter actually made a point of saying ‘and I presume you would like to order the Pigs Trotters’ – maybe the camera on the table gave it away.
We started with a tasty amuse bouche of rabbit paté, followed by a leak terrine with smoked haddock and the aforementioned scallops. Then for main course as well as the trotter stuffed with sweet breads, we had the beef cheeks. Both dishes were served with lovely mashed potatoes and a winter vegetable selection of broccoli, red cabbage and also what I can only describe as a completely superfluous order of french fries. Perhaps they were included to give us something to criticize? Certainly there was nothing much to complain about with the rest of the meal, and it still seems strange to say it, but the vegetables in particular were a standout, so much flavour. The Beef cheeks portion was large, but so light that finishing it was not a problem. Never having tried Pigs Trotters before, Koffmanns was definitely the best place to start. I’m not entirely sure what we expected, but having almost the full pigs leg complete with hoof on the plate was a bit disconcerting, but proved to be delicious. Pork crackling is not a personal favourite, due to earlier experiences where it has been more akin to chewing on a giants toenail. However this was not the case here as it was light, wafer thin and very, very tasty.
For dessert the pistachio soufflé with pistachio ice cream was quite stunning, on a par with the soufflé I tasted at The Ledbury a few weeks ago. The pear and almond tart however was really nothing special, although the pear sorbet that accompanied it was divine (a larger portion would have been nice).
We have always found that asking the Sommelier to match a glass of wine to each course makes the meal more interesting and as the wines by the glass were of a reasonable price (they ranged from £6 to £15) we knew we would not be too horrified by the final bill.
It is also always interesting to see where other chefs choose to eat in their own time. Gary Rhodes for example sat a few tables away from us, tucking into his pistachio soufflé.
Chefs who have worked in Pierre Koffmanns kitchen over the years include Tom Kitchin, Tom Aikens, Eric Chavot, Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing. Having eaten food produced by all of the above, we could certainly see Koffmanns influence.
Marks out of 10
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