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Pierre Koffmann returns in triumph

Pierre Koffmann, once called ‘the best chef in England’ and a mentor to many of the current generation of the country’s best chefs before his retirement five years ago, has re-emerged in top form, with a stylish new restaurant.

Koffmann’s, which opened last week in the Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge, has been refurbished from its former incarnation as Gordon Ramsay’s Boxwood Café into an attractive, understated, modern brasserie.

The pale sage-green walls are adorned with vibrant colour photos of food, and there’s a partial view of the kitchen.

The food is French provincial classics, often leaning toward Koffmann’s native Gascony, and the laconic menu is deceptively modest, as in Boudin Gascon aux Pommes (black pudding with sautéed apple and pressed bacon on a crouton) or Lapin Roti a la Moutarde (saddle, leg, and haunch of rabbit, partly stuffed with savoury breadcrumbs and chopped meats, roasted in mustard sauce).

Calf’s liver is here, as are snails, pigeon, duck, and pig’s trotters.

What seems reticent and retrograde on the menu turns out to be eloquent on the plate: modern versions of classics, robust but not remotely rustic, precisely cooked and elegantly presented—a masterclass in creating and orchestrating flavours.

Everything else falls into place: Service is smooth and assured, without complacency (the staff all look as if they’re sharing a winning lottery ticket, which in a way they are).

Head sommelier Marc Botes has assembled a judicious, all-French wine list of about 250 bins, 50 of which are priced at less than £35, with two dozen by the glass or 375ml carafe. A stellar selection of ‘Verticals and Vins Fins’ ranges up into triple-digit prices, but not that far—markups are held to a minimum.

Koffmann’s, The Berkeley, Wilton Place, London SW1X 7RL. Tel: +44 (0) 20 7235 1010; koffmanns@the-berkeley.co.uk

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Written by Brian St Pierre

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