The hot dining ticket of 2009 has to be Pierre Koffmann's 'pop-up' that is open in October to coincide with the lamentably under-promoted London restaurant festival. Not simply for the sheer audacity of craning the restaurant on to the roof of Selfridges, but for the chance to enjoy the wonderful cooking of the man himself. Pierre Koffman arrived in London in the seventies and, following stints under the Roux Brothers at Le Gavroche and The Waterside, he opened La Tante Claire in Royal Hospital Road which he ran throughout the eighties and nineties before selling that site to Gordon Ramsay in 2002. During the last six years of this reign, La Tante Claire held 3 Michelin stars. The list of chefs who worked under Koffman reads like a Who's Who of British talent - Gordon, Marco, Toms Aitken & Kitchin, Eric Chavot, Phil Howard - I could continue, but you get the picture?
Could there be any better way to pass a wind-swept afternoon than Friday lunch at such a venue in the company of three pals? Sudden panic as I left home - is there a dress code for a former formal 3 star or does the 'pop-up' element overrule? I hedged my bets and went jacket, no tie. Fine, as it turned out. Selfridges F&B Director, Ewan Venters has done a cracking job to pull this off, although a lot of the front of house credit belongs to Dawn Davies who has tapped into her extensive network of contacts to build an effective team - most of whom appeared to be 'on holiday' from other London establishments. The welcome was warm, the Gascony-biased menu was a treat and we got right stuck in - pan-fried foie gras with potato galette & sauternes jus, pressed leek and languostines with truffle vinaigrette, saddle of hare, kidneys with girolles, challons duck roasted with herbs & spices and (the signature dish) pig's trotter with veal sweetbread and morels. I am sure I've missed something. The wine list has been well put together, although diners seemed to be drinking it as quickly as they could get bottles up from the wine shop on the ground floor. Yapp Crémant de Limoux, followed by a straw-coloured but much-appreciated Savoie Chigrin 2008. Reds came and went - Pic St Loup Arbouse 2007, Chasse Spleen 2003 (we love this atypical vintage for current drinking) and Montrose 1995 - bien classique and a terrific finale.
We did justice to pistachio soufflé, apple tart and toyed with some cheese. Digestifs were threatened, but good sense prevailed so we downed coffee and split. If you get a chance to go (and tables are like gold-dust), don't hesitate. For a field kitchen with a supporting cast of moonlighting waiters on an Oxford Street rooftop, it's a joy.