Where do I begin? I have already been to almost all the top 50 restaurants in the world and 90% of three Michelin starred restaurants. “Revisit my favourites” I told myself, and so I did tonight, beginning with Koffman’s.
Pierre Koffman was known for La Tante Claire, back in the day, one of the few chefs in the UK to be awarded three Michelin stars. Sadly, this was before my time so when I discovered he had a pop-up restaurant on top of Selfridges a year ago, I did everything I could to get a table. And I did. For two months only, he fed the elite of London. Bone marrow, foie gras poelee, hare and partridge. The menu was rich in game and in cholesterol. Heaven on a plate. There was one noticeable thing, I must have been the only person in the restaurant that was under 50.
“Pierre would feel proud to know he’s got a young following” exclaimed his partner after I introduced myself before leaving.
A year later, Koffman’s was open in a spot in Knightsbridge that was surely cursed (prior to that Gordon Ramsay had an establishment there and before that Vong was open). Why there and what now? I made it a point to find out so I had dinner with a kleptomaniac (will embellish on this in some other blog post). Heaven in a glass. Two bottles of champagne later, the scallops in squid ink and cote de boeuf tasted like the divine heavens opened up to spill their sacred morsels onto us.
Tonight was my third time dining under the great chef and I felt like enjoying a glass of red whilst waiting for my guest. A bottle of Margaux later, we were sat at the dinner table and ready to order. “What’s the meatiest non-meat dish you have on the menu?” I asked our dear Swiss who recognised me from my previous visits. “Well, we have an off-the-menu vegetarian tarte we can offer you”, to which my friend stared at me and commanded I ordered the pig’s trotters or some other form of sin on the menu.
Smoked eel with leeks and a chicory and roquefort salad to begin, finishing with a venison in dark chocolate and a cod in tomato sauce. I broke my resolution, and only halfway through the month.
The first course arrived and were gobbled up in seconds, then came the mains. I had the venison and the chocolate sauce was sublime, the meat was placed on a bed of braised cabbage that tasted like creamed spinach. “They are cooked in goose fat” remarked the waiter. And then it hit me, we were being taken back to the 80s, where health did not matter, a main always had meat and a prawn cocktail in a Marie Rose sauce would not be missed. Would they have crepe Suzettes on the dessert list?
I know I do things to the extreme so after my meal tonight, I was left with three options – complete my decadence with a cigarette, run around Richmond Park a couple of times or blog about it (as my friends so often threat when they are faced with rude waiting staff). I’m glad I had the latter option. A guilt free way to begin the new year it may not be, but what it is is a reminder that “I can’t believe it’s not butter” deserves to remain on the shelf once in a while.
Koffman’s (3 out of 5): The Berkeley Hotel, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RL, +44 (0)20 7235 1010.