Arriving a bit early, and being in the mood for a pre-dinner drink my partner and I decided on a quick detour to the Blue Bar. It still has some echoes of Deco glamour, but you don’t ever feel you could be starring in an old episode of Miss Marple, so after securing a table we settled in to explore the extensive drinks and cocktails menu.
There are some interesting variations in the cocktail menu, and we opted for a Pineapple and Cardamom Side Car (excellent, and gone only too soon) and an Amber Manhattan, somehow a little too syrupy for our summer’s eve, but that was our mistake. These cocktails are £17 each, but throwing caution to the winds I had another. Whilst one gets a very decent little platter of nuts and assorted snacks, it’s a little salutary to note that a 12.5% service charge is added to all bills in this bar. I consoled myself with the fact that our statuesque waitress had been very attentive.
Naturally, Koffmans has its own entrance, but those leaving the Blue Bar can walk a short corridor straight into the restaurant, which would be a boon on a less fine day. Our reservation was quickly found, our companions appeared, and we went straight down a flight of steps to the main part of the restaurant. It’s a slightly unusual arrangement, but only noticeable when one literally has to go ‘uphill and down dale’ to get to the loo.Waiters and Sommelier appeared, and we had a little chat. I like to see knowledge and pride in one’s work, especially in something so personal as food, so I went with the highly recommended Galette of Fois Gras and a glass of Gascogne. Despite immediately going up a trouser size, and worrying not for the first time about the morals of FG I have to say it was excellent. There were some satisfied murmurings from the rest of the table over their choices of crab, black pudding and sardines, but on this occasion I think my choice edged it.
Choosing at a restaurant usually involves a bit of a balancing act between the food followed by a suitable wine, but it’s tough to know every Chateau. Describing a certain fondness for a decent St Emillion or similar had led to a bottle of Cornas being decanted earlier. It really needed a bit more time to breath, ever improving as the glass went down, but it proved a good companion for my Mains of Pigs Trotter. The rest of the party all had fish, one keeping me company with her habitual glass of red, one with a glass of white, and one alas under doctors orders and on sparkling water.
At the appearance of the Dessert menu, our good intentions evaporated. We wentfrom “none” to “I’ll just have a little” through to “let’s share” and ended up with 2 puds and a cheese plate. They all went and, in my case, a coffee and a brandy chased them home.
We had had a good evening, helped in no small part by the excellent staff, but in mulling it over afterwards I realised we had been a little less effusive over the Mains. Undoubtedly technically good, they seemed to lack a little of the passion or sense of direction that the very best in this price bracket evoke. Interestingly, as is often the case when something so nearly makes it, it feels like unfinished business, and you want to go back. Will it match up, or will it just not quite have that special something? A return visit might be the only way to find out.
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