The “ultimate” in what is now a well known trend in London’s restaurant scene, Pierre Koffman’s pop-up restaurant on the roof of Selfridges is one of those foodie experiences that I simply could not miss. After reading an excellent review by fellow food blogger Kavey from Kavey Eats, I called Selfridges and was placed in their waiting list – a couple of days later and due to a very welcome cancellation, Dr G and I were finally booked in.
The marquee that was specially built looks good – not tent-like as I feared but sturdy and rather spacious. The décor is elegant and quirky, with those striking chandeliers made of large interspaced deer antlers also used in The Reindeer at The Truman Brewery (another pop-up restaurant set up by the Bistrotheque team for Xmas 06), and various bowler hats reminiscent of Rene Magritte.
Dr G and I made our choices, deciding to share all dishes. To start the evening we were served an amuse bouche of “Carrot and Orange Soup with Potato Foam” – the soup was full of flavour, and the potato foam made it rich without the heaviness of the more usual double cream.
Our first starter was the “Fricasse of Wild Mushrooms and Snails with Bone Marrow” – having just had some wonderful roasted bone marrow at Pizza East the week earlier, I was very keen to try this dish.
It was creatively presented as the marrow had been scrapped off the bone, made into two small white spheres and placed on thinly sliced toast. The marrow cavity was then filled up with wild mushrooms flavoured with a concentrated and delicious reduction.
The second starter “Cocktail of Scottish Lobster with Avocado Guacamole and Lemon Jelly” was served in a martini glass, and the flavour combination was spot on – the meaty chunks of lobster, apples, avocado, and lemon jelly tasted and looked sensational together – it was fresh and zingy but also creamy due to the avocados.
Pierre’s signature dish “Pig’s Trotter stuffed with Veal Sweetbreads and Morel Mushrooms” was absolutely fantastic – I have eaten pig’s trotters before in Brazilian Feijoada (Brazil’s national dish) but was never fond of them. It takes amazing skill to make what is one of the most unappealing cuts/pieces of pork into something so utterly delicious. The skin was melting in the mouth, the meat and veal sweetbreads were incredibly soft and well complemented by the morel mushrooms. The sauce was highly concentrated and sweet, tasting of caramel and Madeira wine.
The “Royale de Lievre with Red Cabbage” also did not disappoint – various cuts of roast hare with a fine sauce reduction and buttered tagliarini. It was an intensely rich dish, and by this point in the meal, we were feeling rather sated.
For dessert we shared the “Pistachio Souffle with Pistachio Ice Cream” and the “Chocolate Fondante with Vanilla Ice Cream”. It was worth having to wait the additional 20 minutes for the souffle – it was a dazzling display of culinary technique, being light and intensely flavoured with pistachio. The chocolate fondant was dark and luxurious, and well balanced with a delicate ice cream.
To drink, we had a bottle of red Vacqueyras 2005 @ £38. It was more than what I would normally have paid, but for cooking of this quality, it seemed appropriate. The wine (a more affordable alternative to the nearby Chateauneuf du Pape) accompanied the dishes very well with the exception of the lobster. This was followed by some dainty petit fours and coffee.
Verdict – Superb cooking, classic French dishes with a sophisticated twist. At £220 for two, including wine and service, I was pleased to have had this unique experience with a culinary legend. Although the portions were sensible, the concentration of flavour was so intense that it took some hours for my appetite to recover.