I’m sitting here at the keyboard, still drooling a little remembering last night’s dinner at Koffman at the Berkeley Hotel, courtesy of bookatable.com’s special offer of 3 courses and a bellini for £32 per person. The set menu, though small, was varied enough to cover most tastes and included brasserie favourites like brandade with soft-boiled egg and parsley foam which was soft, luscious, but delicate.
We had high expectations of the food, what with it being the renowned Pierre Koffman’s latest outing in London. By and large we weren’t disappointed. Amuse bouches of cauliflower flan with parsley foam and baby croutons were light, crunchy, highly flavoured mouthfuls of joy. Cheese creme brulee was light and richly cheesy, if a little on the large side for a starter. Yes, you don’t have to eat it all, but who is going to leave something that good sitting on a plate? The mackerel tartare and scallop ceviche was art on a plate with a taste to match.
Mains didn’t quite live up to the promise of the starters. The duck in the confit duck legs with lentils, rather than being meltingly soft and falling off the bone was chewy and dry; the puy lentils fared a little better although they were also a little overcooked. The dish was rescued by the Chateau Lucas Cuvee Prestige 2005 we’d ordered (thank you for the great choice Mick). Good tannins, full bodied and a deep plummy, slightly chocolatey base made for a very drinkable wine. The vegetable accompaniments were cooked well past the desirable point of a slight bite (I call it a l’Anglais). The liver was fine, and the pommes purees that came with it were silky smooth. The sole was cooked well but the highlight of that dish was the fregola with chorizo. The golden frites that came in a metal basket wrapped in paper were very moreish. Presentation across the meal was well executed.
Desserts brought us right back up the quality scale. My chocolate mousse was the lightest, airiest, most delicate but chocolatey mousse I’ve ever had. Tarte au citron had a good lemon bite and the crunchy base you’d expect from a good tart. The meringue in the pavlova was shiny and crisp, with just the right amount of sugar. The Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert Domaine Ogerau 2010, recommended by Alvin the very able sommelier, was the perfect accompaniment. The trio of ice creams was beautifully presented in a tuille basket.
Service was excellent, the seating comfortable and well spaced so we were able to really enjoy the evening. The bar area, rich with mahogany, has a little sitting area by the stairs which invites one to stay for a while and an interesting, if expensive, selection of drinks. I’m only sad to say that the kir didn’t live up to the benchmark (the one I had at the Dorchester, which remains unbeaten), but it’s a heck of a benchmark to live up to!
The overall experience was a delightful one. From the moment I walked through the door I knew we were going to be well looked after, and we were. The food overall was very good. As importantly, the atmosphere allowed us to get on with the important business of enjoying good friends, good food and good wine!
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