So what do we need to know about Claude Bosi at Bibendum?
Well, the name gives most of it away - this is the return of the Michelin-star chef who closed down his two Michelin-starred restaurant Hibiscus last October. He's now popped back up London's original Michelin headquarters over in South Kensington.
Where is it exactly?
A few minutes walk from South Kensington station, taking up a full block off the Fulham Road bordered by Sloane Avenue and Lucan Place.
Where should we meet friends for a drink first?
It depends on your budget really. We popped into the Hourglass pub just down the road for a swift (and decently-priced) half but you could always throw caution to the wind and knock back a cocktail in the upstairs bar at Ours just across from the restaurant.
Alternatively, the chap running the downstairs seafood bar and restaurant in the Michelin building itself seemed to be running a pretty convival ship so you could try there.
And the restaurant - where's the best place to sit?
Well we liked our table by the window and underneath the rooflight but the whole place is pretty decently laid out with plenty of room between tables. We noticed a lot of larger tables, clearly folk round here like to entertain a lot. Wherever you sit, you'll probably get a good view of the space-age kitchen Bosi has had fitted - complete with glass sliding doors. The net result is you see a lot of the action in the kitchen, you just can't hear (or smell it).
So, how does the food compare to Hibiscus?
We think the space - and the local clientele - have given Bosi the opportunity to lighten up a bit. That dining room at Hibiscus was - how shall we put it - a bit on the dull side. Here he's front and centre of the action and it looks as though he's really enjoying himself.
Our dinner kicked off with a series of some of the most fun and delicious amuse-bouches we'd had in a while. A bonsai olive tree arrives at the table with two olives in two spoons. Pop them into your mouth sharpish as they'll crack open to pour liquid olive pissaladière down your throat.
Then there's two teeny cones of foie gras ice-cream with mango sauce (a Bosi signature). That's followed with wonderful pork scratchings, an egg filled with morels and coconut, gorgeous bread with a truly wonderful salty butter - it's all a lot of fun.
The menu reads like a dream, and from what we had, standout dishes were:
- Cornish cock crab under a layer of elderflower jelly studded with sea herbs and flowers - Bosi understands the importance of having the brown crab as well as the sweet white (£29)
- Somerset kid with razor clams and a seriously green sea beet sauce (£32)
- Desserts were really top hole too - make sure you get the sweet olive oil millefeuille (pictured below)
If you can, do leave room for the staff to wheel round the James Bond-style cheese trolley, with its own temperature controlled environment.
And the drink?
If you want to stick to by the glass, that starts at £5.50 for a glass of Les Petits Clements and runs up to around £16 for a glass of natural wine from Radikon. And while the wine list is predominantly French, you will find British fizz like Hambledon and Nyetimbe on there.
This iconic building feels like a much better fit for Claude Bosi than his previous library-style Mayfair spot. However fans of Hibiscus will spot the odd key member of staff who has followed him here. We particularly liked seeing GM John Davey, who first opened the first restaurant here at Bibendum with Terence Conran in 1987, working the floor - clearly happy to be back. If we had any niggles, maybe it was that our main courses were a little too finessed - but that's a small issue when the rest of dining here is such fun.
More about Claude Bosi at Bibendum
Where is it? Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London SW3 6RD.
How do I book? Call 020 7581 5817 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. No reservations at the oyster bar.
Find out more: Visit their website.
Hot Dinners were invited to Claude Bosi at Bibendum. Prices are correct at the time of writing.