Bibendum Restaurant – London
Recently I had the pleasure of stopping in London for lunch at a place I have always wanted to experience ever since I first met Sir Terrance Conran in the early 1990s when I was developing the Hotel Montalembert – the place is BIBENDUM at the Michelin building in London’s Chelsea district – I had always thought it was South Kensington but was politely corrected by my taxi driver. A fun anecdote is that it is actually on Brompton Cross, the unofficial name for where Pelham Street and Sloane Avenue meet the Fulham Road in the heart of Chelsea.
Sir Terence took on this iconic building 27 years ago in 1985 & set up the Oyster Bar and the Restaurant – both refer directly to the building’s association with tyres and, in particular, to Bibendum, the Michelin man. Both are named after him.
My lunch, with dear friend Pippa Ona was a girls’ day out and apart from catching up on the news from Mustique Island, we were tasting the dishes of Head Chef, Matthew Harris as he will soon be heading to The Cotton House in Mustique for a “culinary week” in July 2012 when he will bring his expertise to mix with that of the local talent of St Vincent & the Grenadines.
Our starters were deep fried calamaries & their speciality dipping sauce for Pippa and grilled chicken livers with Jersey Royals, wild garlic greens & aioli for myself followed by Roast Quails with foie gras croute, mushrooms & Madeira for Pippa & a whole poussin for myself with pine nuts & ….. A bread basket the size of a picnic hamper gives selection of 4 types of bread throughout the meal …. Tempting as the dessert menu was, we settled to share a selection of sorbets – of course Pippa had her umpteenth coffee of the day – myself abstaining
The setting of the Michelin Building is magical, Its exuberant stylistic individualism has been variously described as an example of Art Nouveau, proto-Art-Deco, Secessionist Functionalism and geometrical Classicism. It has even been described as ‘the most completely French of any Edwardian building in London’! Designed by an employee of the company, probably under the guidance of Edouard and Andre Michelin, it owes more to the imagination, vivacity and outrageously irreverent flair for public relations of these two men than to any notion of the architectural taste of its time. One is transported “trans manche” while sitting here and it is necessary to pinch oneself to remember you are in the heart of vibrant London.
There are joyful references to the Michelin Man all over the building including a wonderful mosaic of Monsieur Bibendum on the floor of the Oyster Bar Lobby.
I wondered why I had taken so long to discover Sir Terence’s first creation – but I sort of know the answer – too much traveling however it was a glorious spring day and a great way to look forward to the long days of summer and forget the cold a dreary days of winter.
Now I have to find time to head to Mustique in July to see how Matthew marries Bibendum with Cotton House…
Michelin House - 81 Fulham Road - London SW3 6RD
By John WP
G.L.A Hotels, the luxury hotels specialist