Koffmann’s

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People eat at Koffmann’s to pay homage. They pay homage to the man, Pierre Koffmann a previous three star Michelin chef, and they pay homage to the dish, Koffman’s stuffed pig’s trotter. Famously Koffmann retired but was tempted back to the stoves in a basement restaurant at the Berkley hotel bearing his name. The room feels understated if somewhat unadventurous. Carefully arranged black and white photographs hang on the walls, the tables are linen clad and well spaced and the colour scheme is predominantly beige. The atmosphere is hushed and almost luxurious in its anonymity.

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The trotter
 
Cocktails at the bar seemed a good way to kick things off and the bar tender was knowledgeable recommending a rose martini for me and a gin sling for my friend Tim. Then we headed down to our table nestled in a carmel leather banquette against the wall for an amuse bouche of tartare of veal tongue. I liked the way Koffmann went straight for the offal from the start and was brave enough to eschew a more prosaic but crowd pleasing offering as an amuse.
 
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Tongue
 
The sense that our meal was going to be like a reunion tour of greatest hits from a once legendary band is heightened when our waiter points out Koffmann’s signature dishes on the menu. He said we had to try the scallop starter (£16) so we did, after all I always hope that bands play their old stuff and not their new stuff. Thinly sliced with a faint backpacker tan from the pan the scallops were gussied up with a smear of pureed potatoes and midnight black pools of squid ink. Perhaps it is an old dish but it still felt interesting and contemporary. However, a starter of ham and pears (£10) which does exactly what it says on the tin was a little austere for my tastes.
 
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Ham and pear
 
There were no such austerity issues with the dish Koffmann is most famous for, the stuffed pigs trotter (£28). It must be once of the most over the top main courses I have ever encountered. The huge gelatinous trotter was stuffed with morels and sweetbreads and teamed with rich, creamy mash. While I appreciated the sheer beauty and the brilliant expertise behind the trotter, for me the texture of each of the elements of the dish was too similar and the whole dish too rich and overpowering. The beef cheeks (£24) also went straight for the jugular with more of the same big flavours. The cheeks were braised to a point of melting, almost sticky tenderness and were paired with smooth pureed mash and a rich sauce. There was room here too for slightly lighter dishes such as the rabbit roulade (£24) which was drizzled with a delicately flavoured sauce and scattered with fresh peas.
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Rabbit
 
Despite the opportunity to try more of Koffmann’s classics from the dessert menu we went straight for that all time classic the cheese trolley. The trolley was one of the best I have seen in London with a well kept and interesting array of cheeses (£13 a plate) which were all helpfully labelled, saving the waiter from having to explain each cheese to the whole table. In what seems to be a new and welcome trend in London our post meal coffees wee served with a plate of madelines served piping hot from the oven. Oh so French and oh so good.
 
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The cheese platter
 
The wine list was also quite interesting and deserves a mention as again, flying the flag for Koffmann’s homeland it was an entirely French list. The list itself did not give much guidance but the sommelier pointed us in the direction of the Ventoux Fayard from Domaine de Fondréche 2009 (£32). This medium bodied red with berry notes worked well with the food we ordered but lacked a bit of complexity and depth of flavour.
 
I’m glad I went to Koffmann’s to pay homage to both the man and the dish. The cooking was exquisite and the service friendly and solicitous. The only down side was the lack of atmosphere. It may have been Koffmann’s reputation preceding him but I did feel a little like we were eating in a hushed gastro-shrine
 
Essentials
Details: Koffmann’s, The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge SW1X 7RL (Ph 020 7235 1010) Tube: Knightsbridge
Damage: Budget breaking. Our bill for three people came to £203.
7/10
 
Links
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my review of Bar Boulud just across the road from Koffmann’s or Zuma which is around the corner.

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8 comments

  1. Koffman’s sounds like a pass, then. The line about how he’s tempted out of retirement to work in the basement of the Berkeley Hotel is pretty funny. I suspect he’s overshadowed in that location by Marcus Wareing upstairs.

  2. The trotter looks beautiful, well caremelised and presented, just asking to be devoured. Its a pity it was a bit of a let down.

  3. I have been amongst the people who have been to pay homage and try the pigs trotter which I borked over at the Koffman pop-up on the roof of Selfridges. I’m glad I had it but wasn’t overwhelmed by the dish either.

  4. Great shot of the pigs trotter, I’ve not found a dish too rich for me yet so hopefully can pick up the challenge if I go there.

    Also being someone who never remembers what cheeses I’ve had I hope the labeling of cheeses becomes more common place, it would be nice to remember every once in a while.

  5. Lovely article about one of the greatest chefs. I will be posting another article about my former boss and mentor soon on http://www.robertgiorgione.com

  6. “Hushed gastro shrine” is all well and good – but a touch of atmosphere would be good. The mash looks almost as rich as the trotter. Cheese looks bloody good too.

  7. I love the line about the backpacker tan in the pan!

    I have been for the set lunch menu, which I felt didn’t really showcase Koffman’s talents well – I felt like they really just wanted you to spend more and splash out on the big ticket items instead.

    I really liked the decor – felt perfect for a lovely lunch.

  8. American in London – I enjoyed it but it was not one of my top dining experiences for this year.

    Three Cookies – It was a perfect specimen of a trotter – just too rich for me and too much the same texture.

    Vintage Macaroon – interesting that you were not that big a fan

    Ross – Let’s hope it catches on as I am in the same boat as you!

    Robert – I look forward to reading it – he is a very influential man in the London restaurant world

    Jonathan – I agree I think atmosphere is very important. The cheese was good!

    LexEat – Often it is hard to get the full experience with a set lunch menu which is frustrating.

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