Marcus: Soulless and greedy hotel restaurant. But the food is good.

(Visited: December 2014)

We’ve been so many times at Koffmann’s, for once let’s walk round the building and try its 2* neighbour…

The entrance is unsigned, within the hotel, through the hotel bar. It is, undoubtedly, a hotel restaurant.

From the a la carte menu (£85 for 3 courses at the time of writing), Sweetbreads were supernaturally well cooked (panfried), very soft inside and beautifully caramelised outside, and the almond and pear accompaniment was inspired.

The a la carte main was a venison. The advertised accompanying chestnuts were in thin slivers, and did not make an impression: this was somewhat of a let-down. There was a black pudding ‘paste’, a sure-fire crowd pleaser, but the most satisfying bit was ultimately the venison itself, of top quality and again cooked perfectly.

Wood pigeon with black truffle and buckwheat was simply a stunner, the jus packing amazing flavour and the components working really well together (and this was from the cheaper lunch menu, £45 for 3 courses). From the same menu, a Halibut with salsify and cockles was pleasant, though the fish portion here was minimalistic almost to excess.

Desserts were OK. In a Pineapple, pain perdu and coconut, don’t expect the moistness you picture in your mind when you think ‘pain perdu’. Apart from that, it was a rather good dessert, with the various elements (including lovely meringues) working as a team. And the chocolate from the lunch menu (dark, milk, white) was at least as good, the sweet equivalent of the previous black pudding crowd pleaser.

From a quick read, the wine list is overpriced and unimaginative. The champagne section begins with the low end offering of a famous high end House (never a good choice, why not seek out one the nice smaller and less famous producers?), a bottle of which could be bought in Sainsbury’s for £25. Here it cost £88.

So we skipped wine, bought the Sainsbury’s bottle, plus a £50 Barolo, and felt smug. Boycott high price wine in restaurants!

The dining rooms form a large area, in which there are more customers than they are comfortable with serving at a decent pace at peak times. The result? Long delays and an unpleasant, uneven pacing of the meal, which at the 2* level we find unacceptable. Less greed would lead to better service. The staff however are good and well drilled.

In sum, the food was overall excellent, at the level one expects from 2*, with some high peaks and no serious let-down. The dining experience overall was, however, not equally pleasant due to the long waits, with no apologies whatsoever, and to the atmosphere (we were tempted to cancel the optional 12.5% charge but didn’t because our server could’t have been nicer). So while we would like to return to try more, we probably won’t.

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