Res­tau­rants

Decanter - - CONTENTS - By Fiona Beck­ett

Fiona Beck­ett lunches in Lon­don at Claude Bosi at Biben­dum, and is bowled over by Ba­bel in Bu­dapest

How badly does Claude Bosi want a third Miche­lin star? I sus­pect he might kill his granny for one. Hav­ing got two at his pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tion at Hi­bis­cus in May­fair, he’s ob­vi­ously go­ing all out for the big one.

Well, he has a num­ber of things go­ing for him here: one of the loveli­est din­ing rooms in Lon­don; all the bits and pieces that Miche­lin re­gards as de rigueur, such as pris­tine white table­cloths; the clever amuses; the toques; the trol­lies. Ac­tu­ally it was the trol­lies (only avail­able at lunch) that made me book. Rosy pink veal, carved ta­ble­side and served with a per­fectly judged jus, a deca­dently creamy gratin dauphi­noise and but­tery veg­eta­bles was as sat­is­fy­ing a main course as you could con­ceive to go with a good Bordeaux. If you can af­ford it. Most of the 750-bin list is pretty eye-wa­ter­ing, so I set­tled for a Crozes-Her­mitage 2013 from Alain Grail­lot at a com­par­a­tively mod­est £79 a bot­tle.

There was also a splen­did cheese trol­ley, sen­si­bly lim­ited to seven fine cheeses, in­clud­ing a mar­vel­lous old Gouda; and – ut­ter joy! – an ice-cream trol­ley wheeled out with great cer­e­mony, the flavours of your choice scooped flam­boy­antly into frozen sil­ver coupes.

Just a starter of ar­ti­choke barigoule buried un­der a thick blan­ket of foamy strac­ciatella soup, and a slightly weird ‘sweet pea’ tart dessert failed to hit the mark. I cast such en­vi­ous glances at my com­pan­ion’s per­fectly cooked sweet­breads that he had to give me half of them.

Ser­vice could cer­tainly do with sharp­en­ing up. I had to ask twice for the wine list. ‘So you don’t want to or­der any food?’ said the maître d’ sark­ily. When it ar­rived it was of­fered to my male com­pan­ions. When are res­tau­rants go­ing to move into the 21st cen­tury? It’s a good list though, and less heav­ily weighted to­wards nat­u­ral wines than the one at Hi­bis­cus. The se­duc­tively creamy Loureiro 2015 by Aphros in Vinho Verde, one of the more af­ford­able op­tions at £47, was a good aper­i­tif and first-course com­pan­ion.

As with most top-end res­tau­rants, lunch (at £36.50 for three cour­ses) is the way to go, although I’d be sorely tempted to go back for ‘my mum’s tripe and cut­tle­fish gratin’.

Some­how I think Bosi will get that third star – it’s time Miche­lin awarded an­other one to Lon­don. So go, while you can still af­ford it. Claude Bosi at Biben­dum, 81 Ful­ham Rd, Lon­don SW3 6RD; www.biben­dum.co.uk; +44 (0)20 7581 5817. Open for lunch Wed­nes­day-Satur­day ( 12-2.15pm), Sun­day ( 12-3pm); din­ner, Wed­nes­day-Fri­day (6.30-9.45pm), Satur­day (6.3010pm. Note: there is a charge of £ 50 a head if you can­cel within 48 hours, or within 72 hours if you’re a ta­ble of five or more. Steep, but I have some sym­pa­thy.

Fiona Beck­ett is a De­can­ter con­tribut­ing editor and chief restau­rant re­viewer

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