The restaurant itself occupies the old Boxwood Cafe spot over three levels (tables/bar/tables configuration) and is predominantly at the basement level though there are a handful of windows at the top end. That said, the interior is tastefully and subtly decorated in light tones giving an overall airy feel and a pleasant setting.
While we thought a gin and tonic might start the day well, the barman suggested we try a Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port which we must admit we’re not familiar with. As the name implies, this is made like port but using white grapes rather than red giving it a drier fruitier taste and this came layered with mint, lemon and crushed iced topped up with tonic. It was a nice alternative to our usual G&T with the mint giving some extra freshness.
Turning to the food, the aim, according to the website, is for ‘hearty robust seasonal food influenced by Pierré’s Gascon heritage’. In this respect, we think he succeeded extraordinarily well with the overall experience feeling like we had both fine food but also a taste of rustic France. In that sense, it’s the fantasy farmhouse table, what you dream eating would be like if you hired a Citroën, drove down through France and ate in the family kitchen of farms along the way (except you know that the reality would never be like that). Instead then, just go to Wilton Place, SW1.
Our two starters were the Fresh crab with celeriac & apple and Charentais melon with Bayonne ham. The crab here was the star of the show with the plate arriving at the table covered by the Spider crab shell giving from the very start a wow moment. The shell placed to one side, the crab was attractively plated on top of a bed of celeriac with a light green apple sauce providing some contrast for the eye while the taste itself was simply fabulous, as good as dressed crab gets. But I did wonder/worry how they achieved that green colour, while I shovelled every bite in.
The ham and melon too was similarly beautifully plated with the rich dark brick ham sitting atop layered yellow-orange melon and the white plate coated with red glaze of increasing density to the back of the dish. The ham was fantastic though it was a little too easy to run out of while still having a substantial plate of melon left (perhaps I’m just ham greedy) but it did provide a refreshing and tasty start to the meal.
One of us had to try the pig’s trotter of course and Mrs CC stepped up here. The trotter, a good six inches long was served with pomme purée, wafer thin crackling, and a rich sauce. The trotter is stuffed with sweetbreads and morels. It was very tasty but it was incredibly rich and became a little one note rather too quickly.
Despite both mains being more than enough for a hearty appetite, a pot of French fries and some carrots and courgettes were also placed on the table. We chose one of the cheaper bottles of wine with the meal (Chateau Noaillac 2004, a Bordeaux Cru Bourgois at £32) which seemed appropriate for hearty rather than delicate food and while a little rough, it worked well with the meal overall.
We finished with the Pistachio Soufflé to share. We were happy with the wait that always goes with a soufflé given how full we were and in reality, we didn’t really need the desert at all but couldn’t leave without trying another Koffmann classic. The wait turned out to be not as long as the 20 minutes the waiter had said but even if it had been longer, it was a soufflé worth waiting for. Wonderfully risen, full of flavour and a lovely melt in the mouth texture. Great by itself or with some pistachio ice cream spooned on top to melt down into the body. It’s hard to believe that there is a better soufflé out there, an understandable classic.
Overall, we left thoroughly satisfied, completely full up and happy to return. The prices were not that high given the name and the quality and the prix fixe option provided some great looking options for even better value. While quite busy, we were surprised that it wasn’t more busy and we ourselves had only booked the table the previous day. Maybe more people like me need to discover Koffmann for the first time for if they do, they surely wont be disappointed.
Situated under the Berkeley Hotel, it’s just a couple of minutes walk away from Bar Boulud operating somewhat in the same genre. I challenged Mrs CC that if a friend were in town and could only eat at one, which would she recommend; she found it impossible to choose between the two. Fortunately we don’t have to and London is of course big enough for both. Koffman’s is a great addition to the scene and we wish them every success.