Sitting alongside Marcus Wareing’s **2 star restaurant in the Berkeley Hotel is Pierre Koffmann’s self-titled French brasserie. Though don’t be fooled into thinking that this modest restaurant will be a disappointment beside its illustrious neighbour. Koffmann, is a chef who knows a thing or two about elevating bistro food up to the highest level, just as he did with his acclaimed ***3 star La Tante Claire, which ran for many years on Royal Hospital Road (now Mr. Ramsay’s flagship site).
Elegant and snug, the setting is very homely, which is welcome feature for frequent travellers. One look at the menu also reinforces this impression with the straightforwardness of the dishes that are home-style classics.
To whet your appetite, the basket of different kinds of fresh breads is so amazing that you might find it hard not to try them all. For starters, the hot pot-au-feu-style foie gras is tasty and robust. So too is the crayfish ravioli, served with a clear fish broth, which is an excellent lighter option. Bold flavours are found through the main courses too. Pig’s trotter stuffed with sweetbreads and morel mushrooms is one of Koffmann’s signature dishes. However be aware that it has a very particular texture and is not light on fat. As an alternative, the wild sea bass with spiced lentils and grilled artichoke is again a great lighter option. The duck breast with the orange sauce fits that bill too.
All of the recipes are simple, but they are perfectly prepared with produce of the highest quality; each ingredient is absolutely beyond any reproach.
Desserts wise, the signature dish is the pistachio soufflé, with pistachio ice cream. Light and airy, the nutty flavour is intense and delicious. Though, the dark delight of the layered mousse is the obvious choice for any chocolate addict.
So to conclude, if you are after French brasserie-style food, Koffmann’s is with no question one of the best you can get in London. However, it’s certainly one of the most expensive too, which is important to bear in mind as you won’t get the creativity and the beauty of a ***3 stars here. Though on balance, that’s not what you’re there for – you’re there for classic recipes from a talented chef which is well delivered.