Friday, 2 July 2010

Bob Bob Ricard - London

Let me begin by saying that I like Bob Bob Ricard (or BBR) a lot. There’s a decadent, almost romantic feel about the place. Step through the heavy wooden doors and into the lobby and it seems as if you’re stepping back into another, more glamorous age. The beautiful art deco style interior, all dark wood, brass, expensive tiles and blue leather clad booths has to be considered as one of the most attractive dining rooms in London.

Look around, and the overwhelming impression you’ll get is of ‘no expense spared’ and an attention to detail that’s verging on the obsessive. The wonderfully stylised BBR monogram stares back at you from almost every surface, even the tableware bears the stamp, having been commissioned from Wedgwood.

Despite only having been open for less than two years, BBR already feels like an older historic, more established London institution, akin perhaps to The Ritz or Rules. Although BBR in comparison is an institution that is utterly off its face on meow-meow.

Perhaps I should qualify that last statement, you see, there’s a fabulous eccentricity to the place, with the infamous ‘push for champagne’ buttons in every booth, the electric pink and blue jacketed staff and the wine pricing policy which has seen BBR undercut, well… pretty much everyone with their modest mark ups, no matter how prestigious the bottle.

This eccentricity extends to the menu, and it’s what I love most about BBR. Food trends come and go in London, and there is an established order of things. Bob Bob Ricard seemingly cares not for what anyone else is doing. They plough their own furrow regardless, and the resulting menu is a unique mix of high-end Edwardian and British nursery food, punctuated with Russian dishes and finally some international classics thrown in for good measure. It’s the craziest menu I’ve ever seen, and what’s even crazier is – it works beautifully.

My latest visit to BBR was for a ‘Posh Lunch’ organised by the ever-cheerful Niamh of Eat Like a Girl fame, and taking advantage of the fact that BBR are running a deal throughout July intended to promote the fact that their ‘House Champagne’ isn’t some job-lot of cheap and cheerful fizz as is often proffered by less prestigious establishments; but the rather excellent Pol Roger Champagne. (Which was apparently the favoured bubbly of none other than Winston Churchill). As such, at lunchtime order a main and either a starter or a dessert and you’ll get a free glass to accompany your meal (normal priced at £11.50). What’s not to like about that?

Starting the meal off with a rather nice refreshing BBR House cocktail consisting of rhubarb infused gin and tonic, we sat down and I noticed that the BBR monogramming program had even extended as far as the butter. Which is another reason to love the place, every time I’ve been; I’ve noticed some other new, tiny, often amusing detail.

I enjoyed a starter of a rather decadent version of Russian Salad, topped with a soft boiled quails egg and liberally scattered with shaved truffle. With this, just for kicks we drank shot glasses of the rather excellent (and surprisingly cheap) Russian Standard Platinum Vodka, downed in one, in the Russian style and then instantly followed with a ready poised forkful of food, the chilled vodka accentuates the flavour of the food, and really is something worth trying.

My main of Veal Holstein arrived, a classic dish of veal schnitzel topped with a fried quails egg and anchovies (Apparently fact fans, invented for and named after Bismarck’s Foreign Minister Count Holstein). The BBR version, as you’d expect comes literally smothered with truffles…lurking in the beautiful mash and in a hidden puddle of truffle gravy. I’d heard good things about this dish, and yes they were all true, it was a bloody nice plate of food.

Whilst eating my main, I was served my free, chilled glass of Pol Roger and had the distinct impression that I could get used to this. As Champagne goes, it’s a rather good one.

Last, but not least, I was treated to a spectacle for dessert. And it’s not often I can say that.
The aptly named ‘Chocolate Glory’ (which the menu told me consisted of chocolate Jivara mousse and chocolate brownie with passion fruit orange jelly and meringue served with fresh raspberries and hot chocolate sauce – got that?), was brought out last. Held aloft with a reverence normally associated with holy relics. This golden sphere was presented to me, and then, to many “ooohs” and “ahhhs” from my dining companions the waiter proceeded to pour a steady stream of hot chocolate sauce in a onto the metallic ball…. nothing happened at first, but then suddenly the middle melted away before my eyes exposing the contents. (As you can see in the photo).

It was bloody fabulous, I felt like getting up on my chair and applauding. No matter what it tasted like, I felt that I’d got my moneys worth from the sheer drama of it. Luckily, as an added bonus it tasted pretty damn good.

Finishing up with a decent coffee, I reflected on my lunch at Bob Bob Ricard. To be honest, dining at BBR isn’t the cheapest option, but then the best things in life often aren’t.
Saying that, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s worth it, mainly due to BBR being a truly original dining experience, its unique; there is nothing else like it anywhere. If you haven’t been – Go, just to experience the decadence and the wonderfully eccentric menu for yourself.

Bob Bob Ricard

1 Upper James Street

Telephone: +44 (0)203 145 1000


Lost in the Larder said...

Really wonderful review Dan. Will have to make a stop next time I'm in town. The veal Holstein sounds amazing!

PDH said...

Dan at his best "an institution that is utterly off its face on meow-meow" good work, thats why I keep coming back to read your blog mate corking stuff! :^D

Northern Snippet said...

Love it, esp the push for champagne button-that's my kind of place.Great write up.

Dan said...

Lost in the Larder - Thanks dude, next time you're in the area you should check it out. The Chicken Kiev that a lot of people went for was also pretty impressive would you believe?

Paul - Hahahaha Thanks very much.

Northern Snippet - The push for champagne buttons are a bloody good idea. Thanks :)

Unknown said...

I must go there sometime

The Grubworm said...

Ok - so this place does look the real deal - every review i've seen emphasises the attention to detail and sheer spectacle of everything. Having Pol Roger as your house champers certainly adds to that. It sounds like something from Belle Epoque France or 1930's berlin, all end-of-the-world decadence.

One quick question, the golden ball - was that the brownie, the mousse or simply some chocolate shell?

Catherine said...

I love it too - also had the chocolate pudding as well, spectacular, but it totally defeated me.

Ollie said...

Eastside Inn and Petrus are both doing something similar to that chocolate sphere thing... I wonder whether a machine that makes them has just been released. Or something. Nice review Dan.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Can't believe I still haven't made it there. VERY high on my list.

Loving the monogrammed butter idea - will implement forthwith at home ;)

Anonymous said...

I want to go to there.

Greedy Diva said...

I had no idea about the champagne deal! Will they do it at breakfast?! Have to go now as Gremlins is on the telly. Lovely review.

Dan said...

MsMarmitelover - You should, I reckon you'd like it.

The Grubworm - The Golden Ball was a chocolate shell, the contents were brownie, meringue, jelly etc.

Catherine - It almost defeated me too, but I'm glad to say I stuffed the lot.

Ollie - That's interesting, I'd be interested to know if that's the case - and Thanks :)

Aforkful - What? you mean you don't have monogrammed butter at home already?

Feedetgastro - You should :)

Greedy Diva - No idea, you should ask Leonid on Twitter, Gremlins rawks....oh, and thanks!

Unknown said...

Great champagne deal - if only it was in the evening as well. Making the most of your days in London by the sounds of it Dan!

Bob Bob said...

Aforkfulofspaghetti - monogrammed butter is easier said than done. Indented letters are relatively easy, but you will notice our logo is raised!

Graphic Foodie said...

Love the look of this place and big points to anyone who is willing to monogram butter.

Dan said...

Gourmet Chick - Agreed, it is a great deal and would be nice to see it extended to include the evening. Yep, making the most of it.

Bob Bob - I did wonder how you'd achieved this. Secret technique?

Graphic Foodie - You'd love BBR Fran, next time you're in London you should visit. BTW - happy 30th for the other day!!

Hollow Legs said...

I was there taking advantage of the free champagne the same day as you. I love BBR; it's quickly becoming one of my favourite places.

Jen said...

browsing your blog with my bank account hideously in the red and assorted wedding things to organise and pay for is torment. sigh.

Dan said...

Lizzie - You were there the same day? shurly not at the same time. BBR is frigging superb, agreed.

Jen - hahaha I'm flattered...I think :)