Carbicide at Koffman
Ok. So I went to Koffman’s at the Berkeley. It must have been a bit odd for the revered Mr Koffman, coming back to the Championship League at the Berkeley, after the Premiership spot now occupied by the very talented Mr Wareing. And this is a very different offering to his previous restaurant. So what is it? Well, it’s the first restaurant I’ve ever been to where a price on the menu has been reduced in line with market price. By £15 no less. So not entirely a steal originally, but still.
It’s a brasserie-type restaurant, with a fairly straightforward and robust menu. Expect classic items like provencale fish soup and boudin gascon bethmale oignons et betteraves. Or black pudding, cheese onions and beetroot to you. There’s a strong slant towards the food of Gascony. That’s his shtick, Mr Koffman. The food of Gascony. If you’re as old as me, you might remember his temple to all things Gascon, at the original Tante Claire. I certainly do and not just for the food, but that is a whole other story and one I will only tell after a few drinks.
And I’m not going to give you food porn photos today, because I have decided against it. Call me old-fashioned, but I feel it’s a bit crass to take pictures of food whilst you’re meant to be eating it and it’s a hop skip and a jump from using your phone at the table. Which I never do. Except for Twitter of course. Which doesn’t count #makingyourownrules.
And my pictures are rubbish.
Anyway, leaving that aside, these are my impressions:- – good bread and butter. I managed to eat a bit of all five rolls and a lot of three of them. Particularly notable was the savoury croissant. – Very nice flaky pastry/onion tart with the bread. Pissaladiere, if I’m not mistaken. I could have eaten a lot of that. – My artichoke and green been salad (ordered to counterbalance the bread-basket gluttony) was very nice in a hazelnut-dressing, fresh salad sort of way.
As tasty as that dish can be, given that it is just green beans and artichoke. It’s what you order when you don’t want a starter, but don’t want to sit there whilst everyone else eats theirs.
C’s fish soup had me doing a Proustian madelaines moment, straight to the beachfront in Cannes. It was the real deal, a deep rust-coloured soup, made with a shellfish stock and served with toast, rouille and grated gruyere. I should have ordered that.
Unfortunately, C doesn’t play the “sacrifice your dish to make me happy” game so I made the best of the beans.
Safety first, after recent food poisoning , I chose Dover sole with sauce Grenoble (butter and capers). Not exactly a bargain at £40, but it comes dressed with potatoes and broccoli, so you don’t have to order any extras, although – quibble quibble – they don’t actually tell you that, so we ordered mash and spinach, both unnecessary, especially when you add to that the chips which appear to come with every meal. Regardless of what you order. I love that. Obviously.
So, whilst I have never been knowingly over-carbed, I did feel that three types of potato, at one sitting, whilst very pleasant, was just that little bit too much. Even for me.
Although the fairly steep prices match the location, it didn’t feel wildly expensive and one could have chosen a much more reasonable main course. There were lots of extras; the service was quick and efficient and very friendly. In fact, it was a bit too friendly, to the point where I thought I might have been teleported to the US. They even did the “have a nice evening” thing. Maybe it’s because quite a lot of the clientele are Americans- they seem to enjoy the Berkeley, and maybe it’s pitched at them.
For me, it was faintly embarrassing. I can’t tell you about the desserts first hand, but I can tell you that they do a pistachio souffle which is Mr K’s signature dish, and floating islands, which sounds better in French. Instead, I had some real madelaines with my fresh mint tea and so upped my carb intake even further. They were fresh out of the oven and crisp and spongy with a delicate flavour. I made the mistake of leaving some. Next time I go, I’ll tell you about the wines. For the moment, the food incident has left me with an aversion to alcohol which is doing wonders for my waistline but less for my mood.