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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|
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Those with long memories may recall the site at the corner of The Berkeley hotel as the Boxwood Café, part of Mr Ramsay’s culinary empire. Those with even longer memories might recall it as Vong. So, it’s perhaps with some trepidation, given restaurants don’t seem to last here, that I find myself reviewing Koffman’s, the latest venture from the man who used to in charge at La Tante Claire, now site of Mr Ramsay’s signature restaurant in Royal Hospital Road.
Pierre Koffman is a name to inspire foodies everywhere and the latest venture is a very nice addition to the fine dining restaurants in London, though at least unlike some similar establishments it doesn’t get lost in its own importance. Hotel based restaurants are always a bit of a risk, but at least this has a separate entrance and doesn’t really seem like part of the Berkeley, but I’d guess at least half its custom comes from the patrons round the corner.
It feels grown up inside; it’s not stark or particularly sexy, more a Mercedes than a Ferrari, lots of muted colours, nice white linen etc. On being seated you get a wonderful selection of bread, almost too much to get through, though we saw it as a challenge and did some serious munching, sampling the full range and it’s all really tasty – I liked the olive, but loved the croissant which came in a novel muffin shape. Food and wine ordered from the excellent staff we sat back and waited, but fortunately not for too long given, despite the bread, we were all hungry.
I started with the Coquillages, which is a light shellfish broth with langoustines and scallops – lots of really interesting flavours, but also a couple of slightly rubbery bits of shellfish amongst the otherwise perfectly cooked selection. I then followed this with Roasted monkfish with French bacon and baby leeks and hats off to them for the best monkfish I’ve ever eaten, big thick slices wrapped in bacon, with leeks, buttery carrot ribbons, lovely tasty fries and side orders to share of spinach and potato gratin. This was followed by the much vaunted Pistachio soufflé with pistachio ice-cream – sadly this wasn’t half as good as I expected; you know that funny, slightly waxy, taste you get with a mint Aero, that you can’t quite place, but know its not mint, well this was a bit like that. So overall the food was good, but rather let down by a couple of touches that you might have expected to be better.
Service was consistently excellent and all just worked.
Atmosphere was ok, but not fantastic; we went on a Thursday night at 7.30pm, so it should have been prime dining time, but despite this the restaurant was half empty and the music you could vaguely detect in the background was a curious sound like a 1940’s wartime broadcast that wasn’t quite tuned in properly.
Value for money was reasonable, 3 courses, water, wine and a dessert wine each, plus service, came to about £80 per head, which seems better than Scott’s and worse than Pollen Street Social.
I enjoyed it and hope it lasts long enough that I get to go again.