Having lived in France for many years, I was excited to be invited to the renowned Koffmann’s in Knightsbridge – which, according to the website, has been at the heart of fine cuisine in Britain for over 35 years. It’s run by Michelin-starred chef Pierre Koffmann, and I was eagerly anticipating a trip down the memory lane of French gastronomy. I am sorry to say I was disappointed.
We arrived a couple of minutes late for our dinner reservation and, considering the fuss they made, you would swear we had missed a sitting with the Queen. I wouldn’t have minded, but the place was practically empty, with only a few scattered and glum-looking diners in the restaurant.
An arrogant waiter showed us to our table, stuck right in a viewless corner. We asked (in French) if we could perhaps sit elsewhere – we could have had our pick of tables – but “ah non, non, non. Zis is your table, Madame Monsieur!” The lighting was overly bright, and the air conditioning so strong that we were blasted with cold air throughout the evening, despite asking for it to be turned down.
On being seated, we were asked if we wished for a glass of champagne, and accepted graciously (our spirits needed a little sparkle!). The one that arrived was the most expensive on the menu, of course!
I opted for the hand-dived scallops with ink sauce and broccoli purée. The scallops were sliced so thinly that they were transparent, and without the meaty crunch of an entire scallop they were rather bland. The purée, however, was exquisite – what there was of it.
My companion chose the hot foie gras pot-au-feu, which was excellent. For the main course we were recommended the wild sea bass with spiced lentils, but once again I found the dish a touch tasteless, the lentils not spicy enough to bring out the full flavours of the sea bass. No bread was served with the meal either – which was curious, for a French restaurant.
For dessert, a dark chocolate delight was just that, and put us in a jolly mood once again – until the bill came. I could tell when my companion’s jaw dropped that it was very steep; but we were dining in Knightsbridge and I was being treated, so he politely paid and we left. The dessert had lifted things; but given the service and most of the food, the taste we left with was a bittersweet one.