Thursday, 15 October 2009

Pierre Koffman's Restaurant on the Roof at Selfridges

I live an ordinary life. Some ups, some downs, and plenty of routine daily stuff inbetween. I have no complaints, and I’m more than happy with my lot.

But once every so often, I have moments of realisation – moments of thankfulness, even, for the sheer wonder of life and the pleasures it brings. It is not overstating things to say that my meal on Tuesday evening at Pierre Koffman’s ‘pop-up’ restaurant on the roof at Selfridges was one such moment.

I don’t want to sully the memory by giving a detailed blow-by-blow account of each course. I’m a food blogger, not a master of culinary wizardry, and I doubt I could find the words, frankly, or accurately identify all the ingredients or technical skill which comprised the taste extravaganza. In any case, others have already done that task for me and taken the photographic evidence, too.

For the record, we (two of us) ate our way through fricassee of wild mushrooms with snails and bone marrow, and pressed leeks and langoustines with a truffle vinaigrette to start; followed by Koffmann’s legendary pig’s trotter stuffed with veal sweetbreads and morel mushrooms, and royale de lièvre; and to finish, a warm chocolate mousse with malt ice cream, and Toscano dark chocolate mousse layered with hazelnut dacquoise, served with orange yogurt ice cream and Yuzu jelly. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the meal was prefaced by a langoustine bisque with a herb crème Chantilly, and tailed with a generous plate of assorted petits fours.

From start to finish, and without exception, the food was exquisite. If I had to pick my personal highlight, my epiphany, then I’d single out the pig’s trotter. Why? Because it was infinitely more pleasurable than I could ever have imagined, and quite possibly the most wonderful thing I have ever eaten (and I’ve been fortunate enough to eat at some rather special places over the years). I’ve had trotter several times before, but nothing could have prepared me for just how exceptional Koffman’s version was. I can’t improve on the adjectives others have already used: unctuous, silken, gelatinous, rich, intense, delicate, elegant, creamy, ambrosial. It was all those, and still more, as was the ‘mash’ which accompanied it. Never, in my experience, has the humble mashed potato tasted so utterly divine.

Suffice to say this was a meal that far exceeded the sum of its parts. Added to that, the service was friendly to a fault, immaculate throughout, and enhanced by the warm and attentive presence of Claire, Koffman’s partner. A more welcoming host you’d be very hard pushed to find.

The actual restaurant structure, too, completely surpassed expectations – sumptuously and imaginatively decorated and furnished (all Selfridges’ own work, apparently), with only the somewhat bouncy floors betraying its impermanence.

In short, I all but gave thanks to God while I was there (and I speak as someone who havers between atheism and agnosticism). I gave them instead to Claire. And no, I haven’t taken leave of my senses or critical faculties. I’m aware, too, that not everybody has been wholly ecstatic, and that there have been a few inconsistencies and niggles along the way.

All I can say is my own experience was flawless and memorable for all the best reasons, and for that I am truly grateful. What’s more, I’m happy to report that there IS a god, and he’s alive, well, and currently cooking majestic food in a restaurant touching the heavens above Selfridges.

Pierre Koffmann - Restaurant on the Roof on Urbanspoon

39 comments:

Dan said...

What a fantastic review Helen. I'm going tonight and just hope my experience matches yours! sounds like you had a wonderful time indeed.

Niamh said...

It was such a lovely experience. Can I go back?! Please!

Jamie said...

Wow! Amazing meal and isn't wonderful to have an utterly perfect meal from time to time. It renews our faith in man.

mathildescuisine said...

Beautiful writing. Very honest and with a lot of emotion. One word: Bravo!

Pia K said...

sounds like a truly memorable experience, loved the read! as for the food... well, give me he desserts and i'm happy.

scandilicious said...

Vive le Koffman!

Being contrarian I decided not to join the scrum going to eat at this most feted of pop-ups but I thoroughly enjoyed your review - that trotter sounds exceptional.

Dan said...

Went last night - amazing experience. Loved it. No issues with service and waiting, was all perfect. Had the trotter, and it was delicious. If I could go again (and afford it!) I would.

Lizzie said...

This makes me even more upset that I gae up my reservation. Curses on my poverty!

Kavey said...

So glad to read of another positive experience... I really enjoyed my meal and have been reading with some interest the very mixed reviews, both lows and highs, of those who have visited during the week!
:)

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Dan - I did, I did...

Niamh - if you go back, can I come with you? please?

Jamie - yes, indeed

Mathilde - thank you!

Pia - I think you would have been more than happy with the desserts

Sig - Vive le Koffman, indeed. I almost did the same as you - but thankfully, curiosity finally got the better of me...

Dan - yep, me too

Lizzie - aw... :(

Kavey - yes, it's been interesting, hasn't it?

George@CulinaryTravels said...

Oh how I would have loved to have been there. It sounds like you had an amazing time.

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Sam said...

Wow, it sounds amazing! I loved reading your review.

I'm always amazed at the creative genius of chefs like Koffman, I would never in a million years have come up with ideas like his!

things we make said...

Sounds fantastic. Great Review. You see that's why we should come to London more often!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Sam - I guess that's why we're willing to hand over large sums of cash for the privilege...

thingswemake - couldn't agree more

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This sounds like a wonderful experience. My first husband was from London and we used to visit frequently. I remember when it was difficult to find a memorable meal in London. Glad things have improved!

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garmin edge 800 said...

And to think I gave up my reservation. Ugh!!

Weber E-310 said...

Sounds like an awesome dining experience, Helen. I've been a fine-dining server for many years and truly enjoy all aspects of the business. I actually prefer serving to being the one being served, but luckily, there are many others who prefer the reverse.

KDL-46EX720 said...

Helen, the whole meal sounds divine, with the exception, at least for me, of the "Pig Trotter." The images those words conjure up for me just aren't that appetizing, I'm afraid, but maybe I'll be able to get over it next time I see it offered on a menu. Thanks!

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