Newly resurrected establishment in Michelin House by Claude Bosi, earning two Michelin stars in the first year of opening
Bibendum was the only restaurant to earn 2 Michelin stars in the 2018 guide and this was also as a direct entry from only opening under the banner of Claude Bosi earlier in 2017 after Mr Bosi packed up his 2 Michelin starred Hibiscus. Bibendum is the former HQ of Michelin and also the name of the Michelin tyre man serving as the distinctive symbol, who is now proudly set within the ornate, blue and white windows. The restaurant itself is bright, stylish, as French as they come with its exquisite service and a seeming army of chefs in the kitchen. As a headline, I thought the food just tucked in to the 2 star family based on my meal here and can see from other notable reviews (this was one one the most anticipated openings of 2017), where his designs have continued to be elaborate. Based on the products had, we both left very happy to have had a wonderful meal and time at the same time – a very important formula!
From the very start it was obvious we were in confident hands. At the same time, we were not made to feel uncomfortable which can be the case in establishments of this sort of standing, but I was very pleasantly surprised at how welcoming the hospitality was. The highlight of this was having a quick chat with Claude Bosi himself afterwards and sharing thoughts on the meal which are exactly the same as the below.
The meal started with a mini olive tree being brought to the table with olives, that were not olives. These were shaped exactly like olives but were in fact gel-shaped olive moulds, dipped in coco butter, then flavoured with horseradish and apple. Essentially, they broke immediately in the mouth and had a very pleasant contrast of savoury freshness as a snack. Cashew nuts were coated with vinegar dust and were similarly addictive. The final welcome nibbles came in the form of mini cones of foie gras ice cream with coca nibs and mango gel which were nothing short of a delight – light pastry with creamy foie gras. A very good start.
An egg foam filled with mushroom and coconut was a pleasant and light start but I wasn’t convinced that the addition of the coconut worked well with the mushroom. The Cornish cock crab, English Cox’s apple, lime had a sludgy texture as the main facet than the crab, but was packed with freshness and flavour. Perhaps the only part of the meal I didn’t enjoy were the ricotta dumplings. As lovely it was to have Oscietra caviar, I couldn’t detect this very much and the dumplings themselves seemed out of place in this (Obsiblue prawn) consommé. Mr Bosi was very open towards this feedback which I gave afterwards (which I was very surprised about as I was half expecting to be given a pasting in return, but not the case!). It was much more of a pleasure to tell Claude afterwards as well how utterly outstanding the Lancashire mead sauce was that went with the John Dory, its mushroom “ketchup” and Morteaux sausage as it was a distinct joy to eat and even as much to say how much it was to the architect.
Foie gras cooked in fig leaves was delicately served and very nice to have the varying options and the veal sweetbread with stilton and mustard was another total pleasure, pure and simple. The lychee sorbet with black sesame meringue was a very clever pairing and a new sensation. Perhaps the jewel in the crown for design and originality was the Cep vacherin, a hard meringue filled with banana puree, granola, sitting on top of a bed of creme fraiche. The sour and sweets all worked well with this and was without question a fun addition to the proceedings.
The matching wines was elected for as my guest was more in the mood for laziness and thankfully I was more than happy with this approach on this occasion. Thankfully, the selections were all breezy and worked very well, particularly the more rare dessert wine (Muscat de Saint-Jean de Minervois 2015). £208 pp for lunch may seem quite a lot, but for the 9 course tasting menu, pre-drinks and wines throughout and coffee with petit fours at this standard meant I was actually very happy with the return. Through the meal I was debating in my mind at the newly awarded accolade, but when all was reflected on at the end, I quite content this was not a bias or over-award and the experience itself was a wonderfully delivered lunch in wonderful hospitality.
This was significantly more enjoyable than the experience I had at Hibiscus and I would be happy to recommend Bibendum to anyone who wanted a grand time, notable food and all in good hands.
Food Grade: 84%
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