I have many regrets in my life. Most of them I have ignored and refuse to let them out of their little box. But one keeps rearing its ugly head. It is that I wished I had gone into catering when I had the chance at 16 or 17. But I was happy to waste my teenage years away smoking loads of dope and getting stoned everyday. Good times.
This for many years was locked away in a drug filled haze, and when I started travelling I never had the cash to go to decent places to eat. I was however content with truck stops and street food. Something even to this day, are the places I enjoy eating at the most.
But my short stints as a chef in two of London’s finest establishments has made me respect all chefs, that to this day when ever I walk past a kitchen I always thank the chefs, as I know how hard it is to work behind the scenes, and how no gratitude goes their way.
I think this has something to do with my dislike of waiters and waitresses getting all the tip, just because they bring you a plate form A to B, where it is the chefs who are sweating and under stress and totally knackered behind the scenes that do all the hard work to make your evening perfect.
So to be able to be able to eat Pierre Koffmann’s food for a ridiculous amount of money was a chance I was not going to miss. I mean £18 for 2 courses. (Now it is £21.50) There are only a few bargains like this in London, and should not be missed. Trinity is one, and Theo Randall is the other. All are amazing in their own way. I’m sure there are more, but I don’t know of them.
When we told people we were eating at the Berkeley Hotel, everyone was in awe of us, although half of them thought we were eating at Marcus Wearings restaurant. I wish, but as a travel agent, the pay is shit, but the perks are good. Sometimes.
Koffmann’s is as I thought it would be. Elegant, but in a very understated way. There is nothing uptight about this place at all. The service was spot on, everything was done with a smile. I can see the men from Michelin being very happy here.
I knew I was going for the set menu, but I was so tempted to go for Pierre Koffmanns’ signature dish of Braised Pigs Trotters stuffed with sweetbreads and morels. Really tempted just to have that and chill. But the lunchtime set menu was too much of a chance to pass up. This is what had dragged us in here, and until I get a pay rise we would have to stick with it.
For starters we ordered the French onion soup and the game terrine. I’m a sucker for a terrine in any shape or form and this game one was a pure delight to eat. Such a deep gamey flavour that it set my taste buds on fire. The only disappointment were the undressed salad leaves that accompanied it. Was this deliberate to serve some bitter leaves naked with no dressing, or had they been forgotten about and just placed on the plate, alone and naked. Either way it let down a great terrine.
Linas’ French onion soup was creamy, deep and wondrous. It was much creamier than those millions of litres I used to make in that faux French brassiere. The cheese was melted to the point of unxiousness. Really good.
The mains were a superb moist roasted loin of rabbit with black olives, tomato’s and garlic that sung of southern France. A very elegant dish that would see itself on any Michelin starred restaurant menu. Oh, I’m just thinking ahead here.
The other was a simple dish of fricassee chicken, mushrooms and rice. The chicken and rice was pretty simple but perfectly cooked. Lina was not impressed though, she was expecting some magical piece of chicken with some great accompaniment. She is obviously not a fan of rice with French food. I have to admit though it was the best plate of rice I’ve ever tasted. It had been cooked in chicken stock to the point of al dente. Perfect. No denying the talent that Chef Koffmann has in his kitchen. For rice it was pretty bloody good. But as a dish, a little underwhelming.
We skipped pudding, a shame as they had oeuf a la neige caramelise on the menu. I was so tempted to pay the extra but I was very content to bask in the feeling of a great meal. Next time though.
Sitting there with my coffee and nibbling on my madellines I was very happy that Mr Koffmann had decided to come back to London on a permanent basis. Just why did it take him so long?
Even though we opted for the two course menu, we still managed to spend nearly £100. I dread to think what the bill would have been if we’d gone a la carte. Hey ho. It was worth it. Bring on those Michelin stars.