Bibendum kick-started London's fine dining scene in the 1990s. Now it's reopened with Claude Bosi at the helm
It’s become hard to imagine, but it really wasn’t that long ago that London was the butt of the continent’s food jokes, rather than the foodie mecca it is now.
The transformation began in the 80s and with a network of restaurants spearheaded by The River Café, Kensington Place and Bibendum – the latter opened in 1987 in the art-deco Michelin building on Chelsea’s Fulham Road.
Now, after a period during which its glow faded, Bibendum has reopened following refurbishment, with Claude Bosi, he of two Michelin-starred Hibiscus fame, made head chef.
‘It’s extremely daunting,’ says Bosi of inheriting the restaurant’s legacy. ‘Bibendum stands for so much. A huge amount of talent has come through the restaurant, and its impact on British cuisine is impossible to ignore.’
Caviar and duck gelee
Crab and elderflower jelly
An amuse bouche of stuffed olives
What’s his vision? ‘We’re just trying to bring the restaurant back to its best’, Bosi explains. ‘When we considered a possible move, there was so much excitement and love for the building and its history that we felt it would be foolish not to embrace it.’
Inside, the dining room is as intimate as it ever was, now a clean affair with muted colours, and still flooded with light through those imposing stained glass windows.
The new menu has a relaxed feel to it – ‘my mum’s tripe and cuttlefish gratin’ and ‘Frog legs’ chime with the building’s Francophile history.
The wine list, judged by size alone, more than hints at its French patronage, too. Bibendum is back.