Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Koffmann revisited

Koffmanns at Berkeley was a restaurant we visited in September 2011 The food was so good that I had written a rapturous account of our visit. This time we wanted to visit it again and had dutifully made our bookings well in advance.

After passing the delightful Green Pig at the entrance, we arrived to be cheerfully greeted and were soon seated. A glass of regular Champagne for me and HRH the Queen of Kutch chose Rose Champagne. An Amuse Bouche of some sort of UFO [unidentified fried object] arrived which we both proceeded to devour. Nice, tasted fishy.  We settled down to reading the menus. There were three menus, a main, a daily special and a 3 course Prix Fixe. There was just so much stuff that we both wanted to eat that we enlisted the help of our cheerful waitress. A great bread basket with a delightful Garlic Brioche and a tangy Tomato Bread soon arrived.

HRH the Queen of Kutch was vacillating between the special of Tuna Tartare with Oyster Tempura [a brilliant concept with great contrasting textures, if you ask me] and Coquilles St. Jacques À L’encre et Brocoli which translates to hand-dived scallops, ink sauce & broccoli purée. The Scallops are a Koffmann speciality so Scallops it was. I wanted the Foie Gras Chaud, Le Puy Lentilles which translates to Hot Foie Gras with Masoor Daal. The Scallops arrived as pretty as a picture, talk about presentation. HRH said it was superb and offered me a forkful and I must say it was worth every penny. The Foie Gras perfectly explains the meaning of the word `unctuous’. There were bits of Pork Crackling to add texture.

Coquilles St. Jacques À L’encre et Brocoli 

Foie Gras Chaud, Le Puy Lentilles

For our mains HRH had a Dover Sole made in a Grenoble style while I wanted to have Beef Cheeks Grandmother Style. With such a contrast in our food ordering a wine was an issue. My red meat could handle most red or white wines while HRH fish would certainly not work with a red. The Sommelier was most helpful and full of humorous banter. He recommended the Saint-Aubin 1er Cru “Les Murgers De Dents De Chien‟ 2008 which he said would be a sensible choice. On tasting, we were very satisfied with his recommendation.

HRH’s fish arrived on the bone in a serving platter. After displaying it, our waitress set about filleting it. Good job, neatly filleted and all that was left was the head and a skeleton. Reminded me of comics. The Grenoble Sauce is a butter based sauce with Capers, Lemon and Parsley. The filleted fish was then carefully placed on the plate with some potato and broccoli and a Lemon to squeeze on top to cut thru the rich butter sauce.

Dover Sole - Grenoble style 


The Beef Cheeks was a stew much like a Beef Bourguignon. It came with a side of luscious mashed potato garnished with Crackling and a slice of crisp Pancetta. The Beef Cheeks are really an excellent cut for stewing, complete melt in the mouth. A really comforting dish.

Beef Cheeks Grandmother Style

With all this food HRH could not handle a desert, so she asked for a glass of Cognac. I still had space and wanted to have Œuf À La Neige Caramélisé which is Caramelised Floating Islands. This is something I was taught to cook at Le Condon Bleu but, unfortunately, have just not made at home thereafter. This is a classic Bistro desert. This was lovely, light and just adequately sweet. The dish is basically meringues which are poached in milk. The milk is then used to make custard and the meringues are floated on the custard, hence floating islands. Brilliant dish as you use the egg white to make the meringues, the yolks to make the custard and the poaching milk goes into the custard. No waste. To finish, I had a glass of Calvados.

When leaving, the staff insisted we fill a goodie bag with sweets made by the pastry chef. On offer were Caramelised Popcorn, various Marshmallows and candy and caramels. Very nice touch.

All in all a lovely restaurant with lovely food and friendly service. This second experience at the restaurant was every bit as good, if not better than the first. You must make every effort on your next visit to London to have a meal here. 

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