Uniquely aesthetic restaurant with Russian influences on both food and drink menus
This was my first time to Bob Bob Ricard and the immediate impressions on walking in were, “Why the hell haven’t I been here before?”. The interior resembles carriages on the British Pullman (essentially the same as the Orient Express bar the name) and just as those carriages have their own unique colours and style, so do the two, primary dining areas of Bob Bob Ricard (blue and red rooms). It is also perhaps the only place in the country you will ever see a button at each table labelled ‘Champagne’ in order to top up existing levels. Some decent offerings here in the happy to have tried bracket and is an experience in itself, particulalry the downstairs dance floor-esque dining room and bar.
Revered Imperial Russian vodka is served here among many others and most at -18 degrees for added fun, but is also fun to debate on how much effect this actually has on the taste of the accompanying food, compared with the flavour of the vodka at chilled levels with food. The starters on the menu are mainly influenced by Russian cuisine (notably the caviar variants) with more European on the mains. The caviar served with sub-ice cold vodka was a lovely and original way to begin the meal as a lavish amuse bouche and two classic starters were tried. The beef and lamb dumplings were not my favourite thing to eat, but the traditionally Ukranian vareniki dumplings filled with truffled potato with gorgeously sweet mushrooms and delightfully thin and crunchy onion rings were great.
Clearly a chicken kiev was always going to be tried and although there are only so many ways this is going to taste, it was a huge bonus to finally have one with a crunchy crust and not the fluffy, supermarket coating of breadcrumbs – this exterior was crunchy, thin and a complete joy with the garlic butter not being too over powering either. So this was good however, the big guns arrived with the chateaubriand and its wonderful truffle gravy. Although I am a sauce freak, I cannot understate how important I think this is.
In fact, I think you can actually tell the general ballpark of a restaurant based on its sauce, because if there is a real effort that clearly goes in to the supporting act, it is a very good indicator to the attitude of the overall menu. Slightly excessive of myself to go for truffled mash at the same time, but when it’s there and making me feel like Mozart in the wig shop from Amadeus, it’ fair to say it’s going to be done(!). The briand was never really going to be in danger of not being pleasant, but this was genuinely succulent, done completely to order and with great return with the truffled gravy.
The red (Ribera 2012) that accompanied this part of the meal was just how I was hoping it to be, perfectly smooth enough and beautifully paired with the fillet – then again, when you are having a lovely meal with the venerable Tom Harrow (aka Winechap), the choice was basically never going to be in question. Undeniably another good factor is that this establishment may look like you need to spend £200 per bottle, but as was proved with this nice choice of red, it was a very reasonable £49 for the bottle, disproving this myth.
There was a bustling atmosphere on this visit (a Thurs night) and the service could not have been more hospitable. The manager exuded a genuine charm and the place just had a feel of wanting to make your evening a quality and happy one, so if you are put off by the opulence level, I wouldn’t be – you are in friendly and professional hands here and in the main, that is a proper find and treat when properly encountered. This is therefore a very noteworthy place for a treat or small celebration and something fun and different (especially when looking at their wine list options) at any time. Even popping in for a quick snack at the bar with a shot of something on the way home leads me to say there would be worse twists of fate….
A highly satisfying food experience here, topped up by all the other lovely factors above and I’m looking forward to showing other friends here who have not been before, as I know they will get a similar buzz.
Food Grade: 74%
Location (Click google logo for directions)