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