What: South Kensington’s iconic Michelin building has relaunched its upstairs restaurant (with the ground floor seafood and oyster bar to follow).
Who: Claude Bosi is behind the stove having become a partner in the restaurant. The French chef, who held two stars at his former restaurant Hibiscus, is hoping he will be the first chef to bring a Michelin star to Bibendum, which is named after the tyre company’s rather rotund mascot.
The vibe: Bosi has described his approach as ‘unashamedly fine dining’, and the toque-wearing brigade that can be seen at work in the gleaming new kitchen add to this effect. And yet the dining room isn’t an overtly stiff affair; the large windows - including the beautiful stained glass ones that depict Bibendum in various poses - afford plenty of natural light and the numerous Michelin artefacts dotted around the room add a touch of levity to the proceedings.
The menu: Dishes from Hibiscus and Bibendum classics feature, such as oyster omelette, watercress and Oscietra caviar, and ‘Galician beef filet ‘à la ficelle’ with smoked eels, beef jam and leaves, but previous regulars of both restaurants won’t have seen it all before. Bosi has gone big on offal, for example, with the likes of French veal brain, veal sweetbread and his mother’s tripe and cuttlefish gratin on the menu. It’s not cheap - the seven-course tasting menu is £110 with an additional £85 for six glasses of wine - but a three-course lunch menu for £36 will placate the less flush diners.
And another thing: The Bibendum ashtray was one of the most theft-prone items in restaurant history but it was the smoking ban that finally put paid to that particular piece of porcelain. It now makes a reappearance as an ash-free butter dish.