The next day after a breakfast of pancakes at The Hampshire Hog, I made my way to Hyde Park to meet up with the male half of The Critical Couple for lunch at Koffmann’s which is located within The Berkeley Hotel but has its own restaurant from the main road. The main part of the restaurant is downstairs, away from natural light which is always a bit tricky for photography but as it was rather quiet we managed to get moved to a table by the window upstairs which was much better.
Pierre Koffmann has been a household name in the UK for a long time and quite a number of well-known chefs with their own established restaurants learned the ropes his kitchen like Tom Kitchin, Tom Aikens, Bruno Loubet, Eric Chavot and many others. With a reputation and pedigree like this you might think the food would be over elaborate and potentially pretentious but it actually is brasserie food, just refined and done very well.
The amuse already showed us the quality of the dishes we were to expect. This onion tart was light and perfectly crispy. Just two bites for each of us but full of flavour.
This being my first time, I had to go for the signature dishes:
Squid Bolognaise: I had first seen this dish on Saturday Kitchen a while ago and it intrigued me. The pasta is replaced by shaved, perfectly cooked squid, served with a bolognaise style sauce that had clearly been slowly cooked for a long time, imparting lots of deep flavour while still not overpowering the squid.
The next obvious choice was the pig’s trotter stuffed with morels and sweetbreads. The skin of the trotter turns rather gelatinous but is very tender indeed so it almost melts in your mouth. The stuffing is well judged and adds some crispy bits. This was served with a smooth pomme puree (easily the same amount of butter to potato) and a shiny, well reduced sauce. Not exactly a dish for the faint-hearted as it is quite substantial but it is actually less rich than it sounds and its reputation is more than deserved.
For dessert we both chose the pistachio souffle to which our waiter added a quenelle of pistachio ice cream at the table. This slowly sunk into the souffle without collapsing it and instead almost completely melting on the way. Light and fluffy after the rich main, this was the perfect way to end. It has been a few years since I had Tom Kitchin’s version (who serves the ice cream on the side) but I daresay they were both equally accomplished.
You can find photos of my companion’s dishes on flickr but you will have to wait for his blog post to see what they were like. They both looked fantastic, too, so I might well have to come back at some point soon. Considering the location, the quality of the food and the restaurant’s reputation, our meal was reasonable value: 70 pounds including efficient and friendly service and a generous glass of wine. Their set lunch menu is a true bargain which I will have to try soon.