Gee, you’ve gotta have bags of confidence to set up shop in the Bibendum…
Otherwise known as Michelin House, the permanent UK headquarters for the famed Michelin organisation. You know the history, of course, a tyre company that started to tell folks about restaurants around the place….
Well, Claude Bosi is no ordinary kind of guy; confidence, you bet, he has it in spades. You probably know him from his previous life running the highly regarded Hibiscus – a 2 Star restaurant in Central London. So you’d have to think that his opening Claude Bosi at the Bibendum was a portent of things to come!
And of course they were; with a restaurant that had barely got its rhythm going, Michelin came knocking and awarded the talented chef 2 Stars right off the bat.
It was for this reason that I made a visit to Claude Bosi at the Bibendum my last stop on my most recent London trip. Literally! (yeah, I went straight from lunch to the airport for my flight home).
Going to the Bibendum for lunch ended up being an inspired choice. Of course, the food was sensational (I’ll get into that in more detail soon); but a lunch engagement allowed me to fully appreciate the majesty of the Bibendum. A beautiful old building, its strengths aren’t completely apparent until you’re seated inside.
Most striking was the light, which fills the space in a way that’s quite unlike anywhere I’ve dined before. A massive skylight helps, but it’s the hue of the light that streams through the stained glass windows that’s breathtaking. Of course, the stained glass windows are of the famed Michelin Man in amusing poses…. A karate-kicking Michelin Man on one, smoking a cigar on a bike the other.
The stained glass windows are not the only reminders that you’re in Michelin House, row upon row of the famed book are on display, as are photos and posters of the Michelin Man. Even the butter container has the image of the iconic Michelin Man sitting over the slab of salted French butter on a ‘tyre’.
I’d agonised over the menu as it was presented to me by my affable but professional waiter; the tasting menu looked oh-so-inviting….. But it lacked one thing that I really wanted, so I decided to run with the standard a la carte menu.
Immediately upon my order being taken, a trio of Gougéres was presented; the light cheese puffs presented in a ceramic ‘leaf’ were quickly dispatched. The gooey Gruyere cheese light and sweet in my mouth and the pastry the perfect receptacle to transport the cheesy hit (covered in some parmesan sprinkles)!
An old favourite of Chef Bosi was next, a small bit that I’d enjoyed in my one and only visit to Hibiscus. An eggshell filled with mushroom duxelles covered with a foamy coconut concoction and sprinkled with curry powder, the earthy mushroom contrasting beautifully against the creamy foam and light bite of curry.
While there were a plethora of amazing looking starters, there was absolutely no possibility that I wasn’t going to try the Veal Sweetbreads served with seaweed butter, monks beard and confit Italian lemon. Not only did the dish look elegantly simple, it was an amazing piece of cooking, with an expertly cooked (pancreas?) that had a lovely caramelisation in concert with a moist and delicious centre. There was a lovely lemon undertone from the candied lemon skin, as well as the seaweed butter sauce that was softened with the addition of a creamy foam.
There was a continuation of meaty goodness with my main of Galician beef fillet served with Red cabbage, Sturia Oscietra caviar and oysters. What amazed me most with the presentation was the reflection of the beef fillet in the glossy jus that accompanied the dish. The tender beef was a triumph of cooking in the tradition of keeping it simple, the richness of the beef speaking to me on a raw level that only a dedicated carnivore will understand. I really appreciated the saltiness from the caviar, which I mixed together with the jus and the multicoloured jelly drops on the plate. There was one element of the dish that overpowered my palate though, the confit beef wrapped in cabbage leaves was insanely flavoured, bordering on too much for my delicate taste buds!
Now, it was time for dessert. I knew what I was going to order immediately, not needing to look at the menu again for my decision… The main reason why I’d gone with the a la carte over the tasting menu was so I could secure the Bibendum chocolate soufflé. It was an inspired dessert choice and soooooo worth every moment of the twenty minute wait.
Once the soufflé was presented, with a thin layer of chocolate resplendent with the Michelin Man; the beautifully presented and immaculately risen souffle was pierced so a quenelle of Indonesian basil ice cream could be added. Let me assure you, this soufflé was sensational in every way, the texture perfect, the chocolate mixed with the light and creamy basil icecream a marriage made in heaven. Yeah, it’s fair to say that I was considering ordering another once I’d devoured the dessert completely…
Alas, time was getting the better of me, and given I did want to get home and spend some time with the girl, I reluctantly decided to skip a second helping of the soufflé.
However, it wasn’t the last hit of sweetness; with the usual petite four arriving for me to savour in the last few minutes in the Bibendum. Minutes that were spent soaking up the light, the ambience and the reflections of a meal that was completely memorable (for all the right reasons).
When I’d arrived at the Bibendum, I was the first diner to be seated, and by the time I’d left, it was busy but not packed. My seat allocation was superb, I was just in front of the glass doors that led to the Bibendum kitchen, so I was able to watch Chef Claude preparing my meals, then watch them travel from the kitchen to my table (possibly one of my favourite activities ever – watching food being delivered). I always enjoy watching chefs in action, the attention to detail and the care taken is mesmerising to me.
My first experience at a Claude Bosi restaurant a few years back was good, but didn’t really blow me away; there were no issues on that front for my second Bosi experience; I loved pretty much everything about the meal, especially the deliciousness emanating from every bite.
It’s a restaurant that I’m gonna go back to next time in London for sure; it’s an experience I’m definitely not going to forget.
Yeah, I can see why Claude Bosi went into the Bibendum; it’s a match made in heaven for sure. My only question being…. when will the 3rd star make its way onto the Bibendum walls?