Monday, 8 February 2016

Bob Bob Ricard - The Great Gatsby Evening

Bob Bob Richard is a date restaurant. 

It’s quite perplexing. I looked at the menu online and thought, wow, there is nothing appealing on the menu; yet I still really wanted to go. Perhaps it’s the “Press for Champagne” button, or the opulent Great Gatsby interior, or the dress code that vaguely denotes “elegant”… Whatever it was, I wanted to be part of that glamorous scene. And he indulged me, like he always does. 

The place was as enchanting and suave as anticipated; the plush booths with royal blue leather sofa and marble tables, separated by dark mahogany and brass rails. First things first - we pressed for champagne. A snazzy gent appeared like a champagne genie out of thin air to take our drinks order. He went for more conventional champagne, I chose a champagne cocktail with strawberries. 

Good thing neither of us were hungry after our long lunch at Paradise Garage, because staring at the menu, I was still struggling to pick something… anything! We both knew Russian dumplings were uninspiring, caviar was unnecessary, venison tartar we have had in the last two consecutive meals, half the stuff on the menu was so straight-forward and unimaginative I could probably do better in my kitchen. I guess we were ready to leave after we had pressed the Champagne button. Except we didn’t. 

Salmon Tartare Garnished with Cucumber, fennel and Horseradish
After much debate of whether I was allowed my third venison tartare in a row, we settled on this. 

It was’t seasoned like a tartare with soft acidity to prompt freshness, just roughly cut raw salmon shaped in a disc, topped with salmon roe and chopped shallot. The flavours come from the fat; it was relatively lean salmon and with minimal dressing, it didn’t really taste of much. The cucumber and fennel on the side, however, was drowned in pickle juice...

Beef Onglet 28 day aged scotch beef, served with onion puree, watercress and truffle puree and truffle gravy 
I like onglet, or hanger steak; it’s flavourful, lean and tender when done right. He seemed new to the cut though. The steak was sliced thinly across the grain to prevent it from the dire sinewy texture, then grilled over high heat to a crimson medium rare to retain its softness and juices. This was mostly fine except it arrived cooler than lukewarm. We sent it back.

The kitchen did little but placed it under the heater for a few minutes. Re-heating it would have overcooked the meat, but I’d much rather they re-fired a fresh steak. Afterall onglet isn’t exactly a pricey cut, is it? The onion puree, watercress puree AND truffle puree together with the gravy rendered the plate a mushy mess. The flavours were great, the powerful steak cut through its accompaniments, it just didn’t look very appealing in a slosh of purees. 

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese Made with fresh lobster, swiss cheese and parmesan
Don’t get too excited about the tail on top, it’s a dried up shell purely for decorative purposes, because even the kitchen knows it looks shit without it. Whether an empty lobster shell is any better - debatable. 

It was good though, a thick gooey cheese sauce with shellfish essence and chunks of lobster meat. One couldn't tell if it was fresh lobster when it was being doused in cheese sauce. The pasta was slightly overcooked, given my revised expectations of the kitchen’s capability, I almost took it as a given.

French Fries
Yea I wanted fries on the side; they didn’t have creamed spinach. I couldn’t help but snigger at the fries presented in a baby pink striped McDonald’s-style paper box with BBR logo on the front. For crying out loud, at £5.95, at least do better than a card box.

Dulce de Leche Creme Brûlée served with orange drizzle
I don’t usually like orange on my desserts, but creme brûlée was a good idea - it was okay, nothing memorable.

Despite the food being atrociously boring and scandalously overpriced, I really enjoyed my evening at Bob Bob Ricard... baffling, right? The Orient Express-inspired decor conjured the most romantic and luxurious ambience, so much so that I had long accepted that I wasn’t there for the food. I liked the champagne, the intimacy of a booth, the dim lights, the mood, the conversation...

He makes everything great; I felt a million dollars.

1 Upper James Street
London
W1F 9DF
Tel: 0203 145 1000

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