It’s not every day two chefs join forces to open a new restaurant with six Michelin stars between them. Koffmann & Mr White’s is the result of a partnership between chefs Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White, a simple brasserie situated in The Abbey Hotel, Bath.
Koffmann and Mr White are no strangers. Marco worked for Pierre back in the 1980’s before going on to win three Michelin stars at the age of 33, a world record at the time. Koffmann formerly worked for the Roux brothers as head chef at The Waterside Inn, Bray which still boasts 3 stars to this day.
Pierre then found his own success with La Tante Claire in Chelsea (now the site of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay). After a short break from the culinary scene, Koffmann opened Koffmann’s, a restaurant at The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. An establishment that we had the great pleasure of dining in before it closed back in 2016.
I was overjoyed that this restaurant was opening once the official date had been announced. Never again did I think that I would get to try Koffmann’s classic cuisine or Pierre White’s simplistic approach to modern British food. The sleek new venture in pictures looked stunning in the shadow of Bath Abbey – we couldn’t wait to get there.
7pm rolled around and we were ready for the experience to begin. The staff greeted us with a smile and showed us into the barely populated dining room, but then again it was a Monday night. The table settings are simple with a lit candle and large spherical lighting overhead. It’s a smart setting. Outdoor seating is also available, weather permitting.
The menu is like the philosophy – simple. All the dishes sounded exactly like a mix of both chefs back catalogue. French classics including Duck Rillettes, Braised Lamb a la Provencale and Pain Perdu sit alongside British staples such as Farmhouse Salad, Shepherds Pie and Sherry Trifle.
With big names you could expect big prices. Pleasantly, the prices across the board are very reasonable. I was a bit sceptical about £3.50 for Richard Bertinet’s sourdough with butter. However, if you’ve tried Richard’s bread before you’ll know it’s exceptional stuff. We declined on this occasion but, the next day, we headed to Bertinet’s place – an absolute must in Bath.
We headed straight for the mains. The Braised Ox Cheek a L’Ancienne with Pomme Puree (£16.50) was just too good to turn down on a chilly evening, decision made. Our other selection, after much deliberation, was The Butcher’s Steak with Sauce Bearnaise, Beef Fat Chips and Roasted Vine Tomatoes (£23.95).
The concise wine list was also extremely tempting but we decided to give the cocktails a go. A Mai Tai along with a Passion Fruit Martini joined us at the table. These cocktails really did pack a cool kick of alcohol. The flavours within both drinks were strong and refreshing, great value for £9 each.
This may seem like a small point but in the case of customer comfort, it’s a big one. The room temperature was absolutely spot on. Speaking of the room, it was beginning to fill rapidly once our orders went in, it was a pleasure to see the place close to capacity.
Taking the Ox Cheek was a bit of a two birds with one stone moment. It meant that I wouldn’t need to pay extra for a side of pomme puree. That said, I would happily dive into a mountain of this pomme puree, let alone order a separate side of it. This is exactly how Koffmann produced it back at The Berkeley.
Rich, creamy and with more butter in it than is good for you. Pure indulgence. How about that cheek? Unreal! I expected the cheek to succumb to the fork test but it offered a little more resistance. What you actually get is a steak texture initially and then the cheek just melts away. It’s exceptional classic cooking.
The garnishes had been done in the Boeuf Bourguignon style – lardons, pearl onions, mushrooms, carrots and parsley in a red wine sauce, each bite was a little bit of French history. I honestly didn’t want it to end.
Switch over to the steak. Steak, Chips and Bearnaise Sauce are three highly compatible ingredients when done perfectly. These were nothing less than spot on. The chips when dipped in the silky sauce reached levels of borderline addiction. The steak was beautifully seasoned and cooked to medium rare, just the way we love it.
With this being more of an investment from two high profile chefs rather than both chefs working behind the stove, you could be forgiven for fearing a compromise on quality. Not a bit of it. The meat is of the highest order and the accompanying garnishes are fresh and very well made. Any risk of the restaurant having a ‘chain’ feel were quickly obliterated. We were very impressed.
Dessert menus were presented from which we selected Pain Perdu with Custard and Toasted Almonds (£7.50) along with Bitter Chocolate Mousse (72%) (£6.50). I had always fancied trying Pain Perdu – brioche coated in sugar and fried until crisp. Many restaurants decide not to put it on their menus. Not here thankfully.
The Pain Perdu took me right back to Marguerite in Lyon. Paul Bocuse’s style of putting a sweet dessert in a pool of rich creme anglaise has found its way to Bath. The crispy, rich brioche was a delight to eat with the almonds and sweet custard providing the perfect garnish. Simple and brilliant.
A martini glass held the dark mousse simply topped with a little whipped cream and some crispy pieces for texture. The richness of this well made chocolate mousse was heavenly with just the right amount in the glass. Too much of this will put you on your backside.
This had been a wonderful trip down memory lane for us. After the closure of Koffmann’s in Knightsbridge we feared that we would never taste this class of food again. The locals also really appear to be getting behind Koffmann & Mr White’s. The ‘Ooh’s’ and ‘Aah’s’ coming from each table tell you everything you need to know.
Opening Times: Monday – Friday 1200-2200
Nearest Train Station: Bath Spa