Restaurant review: Bob Bob Ricard – ostentatiously sleek
Rarely has opinion of a London restaurant been so divided. Damned by AA Gill who awarded the restaurant a mere zero out of five stars, while praised by Gregg Wallace (of Masterchef fame) who awarded the restaurant a 5 out of 5 for food.
So what is it about Bob Bob Ricard that divides opinion so vehemently?
The uniquely bizarre, art-deco-inspired interior is arguably something of an acquired taste. Laid out in slinky booths with red leather seats, drawable velvet curtains and antique mirrored ceilings, there is something clandestine about dining here. Upon arrival, my guest (more on him to follow!) and I were met by a team of very attentive waiters who whisked us to our booth. Stepping into the art-deco-meets-TGI Friday’s interior, I immediately took a liking to this place. It was alive and buzzing with its cosmopolitan mix of well-dressed, elegant-looking diners. At one end of the restaurant, stretches a long gold bar. Above the bar, fifty or so lights – corresponding to the table numbers – wait to be lit by diners wishing to order champagne. Each table is adorned with a retro looking ‘press for champagne’ button; doing exactly what is says on the tin, a quick, frivolous press is swiftly followed by the scuttle of one of the many enthusiastic waiters, keen to serve up a glass of the house’s tasty Pol Roger champagne.
I’m generally sceptical of such gimmicks – they are too often used to hide a multitude of menu sins – but at Bob Bob Ricard, this USP works. In equal measures of charm and cunning sales tactics, I defy anyone dining at the restaurant for the first time to avoid pushing the button.
The menu is as intriguing as the surroundings. My guest and I opted for the Russian-inspired plate of hors d’oeuvres, washed back with a glass of Bob Bob’s special minus 18 degree vodka, whose delicate taste mimicked the fine cut-glass sherry glasses the liquor was served in. Though small in size, the hors d’oeuvres packed a punch and comprised canapes of pickled herring on potato, quail’s egg mayonnaise and foie gras on mini toast. The food went beautifully with the vodka, which made for an excellent, albeit unusual first course.
Heading back on piste for the main course, the menu – offering everything from burgers, through to caviar and oysters – has something for everyone. I chose the Lemon Sole Goujons with Minted Mushy Peas and Tartare Sauce. At £22.50 a dish, I expected a lot and I wasn’t disappointed. Indeed a special note must go to the garnish cook who made the tastiest, more-ish minted mushy peas that ever I’ve tasted. My guest meanwhile, dined on the Rump Steak Rossini with Foie Gras and Truffle Gravy. The general nods and sighs of satisfaction told me that he too was impressed (although arguably this could also have been for the £16 glass of 1997 Chateau Langoa Barton 3eme cru classe – a stunning bordeaux which was recommended to accompany the dish).
Deserts were dainty and delicious. I chose the molten Chocolate Fondant while my guest went for the Striped Passion Fruit and Orange Souffle. Although it was perhaps a rather predictable desert menu, who can complain when the food tastes that good?
After dinner, it only felt right to head downstairs to Bob Bob’s cocktail den. Feeling a little like Russian double-agents filming on-set a Bond film, we were chaperoned to a room filled with more cosy annexes, booths and antique mirrored ceilings. The cocktail list was ambitious and long. I opted for one of my cocktail favourites – the Espresso Martini – while my guest went with the house special Rhubarb Gin and Tonic. Both good choices.
All in all Bob Bob Ricard is a great find. The food, though very tasty, is a little way off being able to compete with the haute-cuisine on offer at some of its neighbouring restaurants. But where the food falls short, the eccentricity and atmosphere of Bob Bob Ricard scores some serious points.
I’m already looking forward to my next visit.
Reservations can be made by calling 0203 145 1000.