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