Bob Bob Ricard has to be one of the strangest restaurants in London. After eating there I still don’t really know what it is. It’s a strange mix of Russian, French and English. A place where you can have afternoon tea, Oysters or a shot of vodka. People either rave about it or hate it. So I really had no idea what to expect.
I’ve passed Bob Bob Ricard hundreds of times, but I’ve never known what is hiding behind those gold windows. I certainly wasn’t expecting the dining room I walked into. It’s completely over-the-top glamour with a plush and decadent gold and dark blue interior. Even the waiters look the part in their salmon coloured waistcoats. It has the look of a grand old train carriage, combined with a rich Russian’s splendidly decorated house. Somewhere between classy and novelty. This is summed up by the ‘Press For Champagne’ button which is conveniently located in each cosy booth which we immediately hit and a waiter appeared in a second to take our order. We stuck with Billecart-Salmon, Rosé (£86) which was lovely and was fair on the mark-up.
Now to the menu, which again is an eclectic Russian, French and English mash-up. Oysters and souffle sits next to shots of vodka, which sits next to burgers and beef wellington. You can have a mound of caviar or a chateaubriand for one. It’s a greatest hits of all three countries. On the drinks list there are shots of vodka served up at -18 degrees, and a good selection of champagne. They also note the prices that other restaurants are charging for the same bottles. Maybe by making it sound like they are offering good value on these few bottles, they can get away with charging high prices for most of food.
To start I went for the three cheese souffle (£8.50) which came with endive, apple and hazelnut salad. I really didn’t like this starter. It looked great with a crispy darkened crust from the parmesan, and had risen so much that it was like a garden gnome sitting on my plate. But inside it was all runny egg white with absolutely no cheese flavour. It was unbelievably light, but without any substance, and mouthfuls of runny egg white doesn’t make for pleasant eating.
My mum went for the scallops, black pudding and apple (£13.25). This was a well executed dish and looked good, as a dish this safe should be.
My dad had the crab salad with chilli avocado mayonnaise (£12.50). Again it was well presented and tasted fine, but there was nothing too exciting.
For main I was again left disappointed. For some reason I chose the Three Bird Burger made with crispy quail, guinea fowl and duck (£23.25). Surely that sounds good? But when it came I was immediately let down. Surely for that price they could throw in some chips? It was dry and boring and for some reason the quail still had bones in, making it annoying to eat. The meagre slither of cranberry sauce lubricated it a little, but it was really as bland as burgers can get.
My parnter and dad went for the Suckling Pork (£22.25) and this was much better. The crispy skin was absoloutely perfect and the meat was juicy and packed with flavour. There was plenty of black pudding as well, although not much of the cabbage. And the truffle in the gravy was lost on me. Everything here seems to have some truffle in it, but never enough to really notice that it is there.
My mum had the Fillet Medallions Rossini (£28.50), which is two small fillets of Scotch beef piled on top of each other with seared foie gras and a foie gras crouton, and of course the truffle gravy. This sounded a lot more indulgent than it was. I was expecting a heart stopping dish, but again the fancier ingredients were a little sparing. Still it was a lovely dish with a good balance of flavours and tender beef.
The sides were forgettable. Truffle mashed potato (£6.50) (getting bored of the truffle here) was grainy and needed more cream and butter or some bloody truffle. The crushed mint peas and fries (£4.50) were both fine.
For pudding it was the Bob Bob Ricard signature Chocolate Glory (£9.75). Maybe I’ve seen the trick too many times to still get excited, but this wasn’t the most theatrical of melting puddings. The sauce just wasn’t hot enough which meant that it didn’t melt in quite the desired fashion. It was a pleasant dessert, but a lot more effort is put into the spectacle than in justifying the name of Chocolate Glory.
We also shared the trio of Crème brûlée s (£7.50). Passion fruit, chocolate and Earl Grey. The passion fruit was light and really intense in flavour, but the chocolate wasn’t strong enough, and I didn’t get any of the Earl Grey flavour.
The staff throughout were excellent, although they really couldn’t grasp who was drinking still or sparkling water. At one point I had been topped up by 4 different waiters so that my glass was split into quarters of still and sparkling. This is hardly a complaint though. The bill came to just over £400,making it one hundred per head, and although we did have two bottles of champagne, I would say that it is overpriced for what is essentially average food.
1 Upper James St, W1F 9DF