Koffmann’s, London

http://www.the-berkeley.co.uk/koffmanns

Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London. SW1X 7RL

Back to London after our brief European trip. We were determined to spend our last few days (before heading back to Sydney) as leisurely as possible and so decided to be a proper tourist by booking into the Cadogan Hotel (I can recommend) in Knightsbridge, only a short walk from Kings Road (a happy wife). Having lived in London for 10 years or so, it felt a little strange to be staying in this area, but it did mean more restaurants were in easier striking distance.

My wife & I had originally intended to revisit Racine on Brompton Road. It’s were we got engaged. But being closed for the new year we had to look elsewhere for our brasserie fix. We didn’t have to go far with Koffmann’s new venture nearby. Having generated significant and positive mentions it was an easy decision to make.

Situated in the Berkeley Hotel, the smart decor was a given, with the opportunity to make a grand entrance of sorts down a wide sets of stairs into the basement. It’s far more elegant than I’ve made it sound. It being only the 4th of January it was a quiet lunchtime, but the place has a relaxed and refined feel that elevates it above more traditional brasseries.

Service was engaging from waiters with a wink in their eye and an eagerness to please (ooher). We decided on the lunch set menu (a relative bargain) and settled in for a pleasant lunch. An immediate high note was set with bread:

A selection of warm freshly baked bread – baguette, sourdough, rosemary infused and a wrapped onion offering. They were all lovely, accompanied with salty french butter. This and a glass of wine, we were already in a happy place.

We then had a surprise amuse – pork rillettes  on toast with pear.

In my mind this beats the normal cauliflower veloute by a mile. It was a good taste. It wasn’t to my wife’s liking, which is understandable. I was only too happy to help her out.

The pork theme continued with my starter – pigs trotter salad with piccalilli and fried onions.

Koffmann is known for his skill with pigs trotters. It was a must order and it did not disappoint. The salad was fresh with the piccalilli providing some good grunt to the soft fattiness of the trotter, sliced finely. The onion served to provide textural contrast. It was a very well conceived and balanced dish. Very enjoyable.

My wife chose the pea soup:

Nothing really to remark, nothing to complain about either. It was a might portion though, which we could not get through.

And so on to the mains:

It still being Xmas, my wife had the roast turkey with mushroom sauce.

None of the usual dryness associated with turkey. It was moist, mellow and enhanced by the earthiness of the mushrooms. Complimentary sides also materialises – excellent crunchy carrots and decent cauliflower with a hint of cumin. The frites were exemplary. Clearly this place has got anything based on Carbs pretty sorted.

A surprising dish to see on a set menu… I opted for the rabbit stuffed with lobster served with sauce americaine and pasta.

Again a very significant portion – the rabbit was excellent, stuffed with a cannon of lobster a combination of the white and red meat. The lobster based sauced served to make this quite a rich and intense dish, with a the noodles providing ample fodder. It was a good dish, but maybe too many things on one plate worked against it a little.

Being pretty full we decided to share a dessert – Baked Alaska

An old school classic, I was expecting a portion of one, not the whole enchilada. Being a good 6 inches in diameter I was defeated before I even put a spoon in. The meringue and pistachios were probably the best part with the vanilla ice cream being replaced by coffee ice cream. Coffee as an ice cream often polarises people, so not too sure who decided it was a good idea. We were sitting next to a table of ‘old boys’ celebrating a friend’s 80th birthday and one of them rightly commented to me – “don’t you hate it when they bugger around with the ice cream.” Indeed. So not the perfect dessert, but none too shabby either.

So we had a fine meal on the whole. No disappointments. A very pleasant environment with staff who did their job well and lots of little surprises from the bread, amuse, the sides that served to create a sense of charm that left me in a good mood for the rest of the day. It’s worthy of its profile and hopefully some recognition.

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