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|Address:||The Berkeley, Wilton Place, London SW1X 7RL|
|Tel:||020 3544 1652|
|Price: £65.00||Wine: £27.00||Champagne: £65.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-2.30pm (Sat-Sun -3pm) 6-10.30pm|
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
First up, let me make a confession; I'm an enormous fan of Pierre Koffman. Not in a stalking, Richard Ramirez kind of way, but I do have a signed menu from the original Tante Claire framed and hanging in my kitchen.
Like the bone marrow with parsley salad at St John, I've never before managed to avoid the pigs trotter with sweatbreads and morrels when visiting a PK restaurant. I've tried it at Tante Claire in both Royal Hospital Road and at the Berkley, as well as last year at the Koffman pop-up place at Selfridges. Here though, I thought I'd try something else. Fortunately, the amuse bouche was pigs trotter with young leaves, so my strike rate of always having trotter at a Koffman restaurant is intact.
The room is a downstairs affair, all beige and trendy pastels, but light and airy, with a gentle hum, rather than a loud buzz. Decor consists of collections of old milk bottles and jam jars, stuffed with dead leaves, as though somebody popped out that morning to Hyde Park and picked up bits and bobs lying around. Were I to criticise, however, it wouldn't be these elements of the decor, but what is missing: the way that French brasseries make the room seem bigger, as well as allowing the gentlemen sitting on the outside of tables lining the walls to see what's going on in the room, is to hang room-long mirrors. Cafe Luc has done this to good effect recently. It would seem obvious to do it here. Instead, if you're sitting on the outside of the tables lining the walls, you look at the beige, vaguely flocked wallpaper. Not unpleasant, but not inspiring.
There's a partially open kitchen too; I couldn't see in (as I was facing the flock), but I don't believe that the great man was there: the report back from my companion was of young men, none of whom had beards.
Bread tasted freshly baked, and our choice was a bacon and onion fougasse, a tomato and a crunchy brown, all of which were lovely. Water was offered, but then not topped up, which sort of summed up the service; it was very friendly and, when we arrived, very attentive. Once the mains had been cleared, however, it took 45 minutes to get the desert list, and only then because we asked for it. Nobody came to take the desert order, so we had to flag somebody down for that too. When the deserts came, they got one of them wrong. Quickly fixed, but a little sloppy for a top joint like this.
Anyone who reads any of the other comments I've made on brasseries, will know my love of fish soup. So I had to try it here. It was lovely; not as thick as some I've had, but with a lovely fishy/saffron taste, with thick, garlicky roulade and grated gruyere. This is what fish soup should be. My companion had the mackerel terrine. This came wrapped in cucumber, with lots of little bits (caramelised bread, red currents, a caperberry on some apple mush), that were maybe a little too much.
Having eschewed the pigs trotter, I went for the rabbit with mustard and lovely it was too; not done with a creamy, mustardy sauce, as I'd imagined, but with a light, grain mustard jus. This too comes with lots of bits, like artichoke, broad beans, baby leek and tomatoes, but they all added rather than overwhelming. My companion had the cod, nicely rich and moist with a crunchy top, chorizio and butter beans.
Desert, when they got them right, was a super rich chocolate mousse and the Île flottant. The latter was a gorgeous, lightly poached meringue atop a honeycomb crunch (think crunchy bar) and a lovely creme anglaise (ok, vanilla custard). The only downside was that it was slathered in caramel, that was just too sweet for the whole. It was so sweet, in fact, that it made the monbazillac that I had with it seem dry in comparison.
Talking of wine, the shortish list is excellent, with a good selection by the glass or carafe. The vast majority on the list are under £75 and only a few, silly trophy wines to show that this is a big hotel in Knightsbridge, although the surly French sommelier did his best to remind us of this.
Overall, I was slightly surprised at the size of the bill (considering that our bottle of wine was a mere £29, although the two glasses of champagne did come to more than this on their own), but it is Knightsbridge, so hardly unexpected.
Finally, a word about the table next to us: a family, mum, dad and three kids, I'd guess 5, 7 and maybe 11? Tables are close, but not so close as to be annoying. Anyway, the eldest boy had the famous pigs trotter. There is too much talk these days of the young only being interest in McDonalds and turkey twizzlers, and the death of this country's epicurean culture. I don't know who you are young man, but I salute you.
There has been a lot of talk recently about Boulud and Koffman going head to head in brasseries in Knightsbridge hotels. On the evidence of my recent trips to them both, there is only one winner; PK by a country mile.