Pierre Koffmann at Selfridges
I've thought long and hard about whether or not to write up tonight's dinner because frankly the place was overun by some very good bloggers and a very good reviewer and I'm not sure what more I can add to what they will inevitably write. UPDATE: See the comment below, turns out Jay was there for fun as well.
However, I've decided to because I want to make a point that I assume, although can't be certain, the others will make. The food was excellent, but most importantly the evening was great fun.
Maybe it was because I was taking my Mum out for dinner, perhaps it was the venue, a pimped-up marquee on a balcony at Selfridges. Maybe it was constant shuddering of the floor - not sure if it was the wind, or the aircon - that made us question the safety of the venture. Maybe it was the service that didn't quite live up to the food. Or maybe it was the sheer delight of those eating there to be tucking in to Koffmann's scoff once again. Whatever it was, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
After having a chat with Pierre's lovely partner Claire, I figured out it was the best part of 15 years ago that I ate at Tante Claire. I don't remember anything about the meal other than the wedgwood blue walls - a feature that has been replicated at Selfridges - not that Claire had noticed until I pointed it out.
She said that one of her favourite things was to stand in the bar and listen to the hum of the restaurant. She was enjoying herself. If the deft touches on the plate were anything to go by, so was the kitchen. My starter of leek terrine was summer on a plate - sweet, light and carefree. My cod was good but not exceptional. My pistachio souffle and ice-cream was outstanding. Shame about the false alarm of a hair lurking - turned out it was a bit of a pastry brush. I'd have thought modern technology could overcome such issues.
Sometimes we forget the dining is about pleasure and therefore fun. Koffmann's got it right at Selfridges. There's little doubt he's looking to return to a full time kitchen after the hiccups at Brasserie St Jacques and guest spots elsewhere. If he can bottle the pleasure factor and food of this quality, he's on to a winner.
It reminds me that that was what Ramsay's shtick was in the early days: serve great food and keep the punters happy. It's not a quadratic equation, but a sum that is nonetheless easy to get wrong.
Pierre Koffmann at Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB UK
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7318 7778