Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Bob Bob Ricard, Soho


Bob Bob Ricard is a strange, glittering fantasy world at the best of times, as opulent as Versaille and as superficial as Oz, its chandeliers and emerald green lamps leaving just enough in the light to be beautiful, and just enough in the dark to be inscrutable. It's not so much like stepping back in time as stepping into another universe, or taking a trip on the Hogwarts Express to Wonderland, where bizarre details ("Press for Champagne") lurk at every turn, and charming staff in powder pink uniforms prepare psychedelic cocktails and serve beef soup from a teapot. Returning for the first time after the infamous Vintage Vodka Tasting evening, however, was an even more peculiar experience than normal. Occasional details and tastes would trigger a memory of groggy vodka-laced incident from last month, provoking a hot flush of shame or a sharp uncontrollable guffaw, or very often both at the same time. I'm sure my dining companion thought I was going mad. Perhaps I was.


But I said I'd be back, and here I was, settled into a cosy green booth and sipping on an extraordinarily good rhubarb gin and tonic, sweet and frothed with egg white. A vodka Appletini was equally good, served ice cold and in lovely glassware. Based on this evidence it would be well worth just popping into Bob Bob Ricard's downstairs bar for a cocktail, but then I'm not entirely sure it's possible to just "pop in" to Bob Bob Ricard at all. You never really feel in control of your own actions in this place - you're stealthily manipulated into having a good time, whether you like it or not.


I had specifically returned for the Zakuski - bite size Russian dishes served with ice-cold premium vodka. The pickled herring and boiled potato was as good as I barely remember, and salmon roe on quails egg was a delicious combination of soft egg and salty, bursty roe. Kauffman vintage vodka washed them down far, far too easily, and was again served in very attractive glassware, the immediate sight of which whisked me back a month and to a vision of me trying to decide which of two forkfuls of ox tongue in aspic I was holding up was real and which wasn't. I hope I guessed correctly.


The Bob Bob Ricard burger turned out to be one of the best I've tried in London. I won't go so far as to say this was a surprise - nothing in BBR is a surprise, your expectations are assaulted and confounded so frequently the abnormal becomes normal - but it was certainly welcome. Good quality beef, cooked perfectly medium, and a good strong sesame bun. Word has it that BBR are soon to launch an authentic American burger, using Kraft cheese. Another reason to go back, damn them.


A second main course - a special - of roast veal, foie gras and black truffle jus was simply wonderful. Light, pink veal, sliced into delicate pieces, sat on top of a bed of juicy spinach and beside a generous slab of wobbly, buttery foie. And the black truffle jus was so good (and came in such quantity) I ordered extra bread to soak it all up, only just resisting the temptation to drink it straight out of its silver serving jug. One of the best dishes I've eaten all year, and proof that Bob Bob Ricard seem to be able to master French cuisine as well as they do everything else.


I hardly ever order desserts, but I couldn't leave without trying some of their homemade ice creams, including a delicious salty caramel. I was probably too full to make the most of them, but sadly I didn't have a choice in the matter. The restaurant chose for me.


At the end of the evening, I'd spent too much, drunk too much and eaten far too much, but I can't say I feel too guilty - it was all essentially out of my hands. Bob Bob Ricard is a huge, manipulative, mind-altering experiment in decadence, and if you can relax and surrender yourself to their whims and fancies you are guaranteed a good time. Far too much of a good time, in fact - far too much than is good for you. You may think I'm exaggerating, that I'm a glutton and a hedonist and weak-willed. Perhaps you're right. But if you sat down at a table, plush and inviting and romantically lit, and saw a button shining beside you marked "Press for champagne", can you put your hand on your heart and tell me you wouldn't press it? Honestly?

Didn't think so.

10/10

Bob Bob Ricard on Urbanspoon

25 comments:

Sasha @ The Happiness Project London said...

Crikey. So you liked it then!

I think I'm drooling a little bit, oops.

spiltwine said...

sounds great, im going!

tehbus said...

I popped in for a quick cocktail. It was far from quick, far from just one, but extremely enjoyable. I do want to try the food, and I will in the near future.

Kavey said...

FANTASTIC review!
I've not been disappointed with any of the food I've enjoyed at BBR, from the pig cheeks braised in port to the sweetcorn potato mash that comes with the moist chicken kiev to the many and varied zakuski to the delightful desserts.
This place seems to be seriously underrated/ undermentioned by mainstream media, especially wine media!
Still, I guess that means more for us!

A Scot in London said...

I loved it there. I nearly had three gfrineds get the first plane to London I went on about it so much.

Su-Lin said...

10/10?! I can't remember the last time you bestowed a rating like that... or have you ever?

Paunchos said...

A perfect 10! I hope you gave it the Bruno fist pump

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOpTIH2pIiI

Lizzie said...

Crikey - a 10! I really love that place, I can't wait to return. That herring...

Grim... said...

Was it expensive?

Laissez Fare said...

I share your OTT affection for BBR. I just love the place. From the first time we went a number of months ago, we just instantly felt at home, perfectly looked after and (like you say) always coaxed into having a good time. I've now had a variety of the food, nearly all of which was pretty good, and their drinks are very nice too. I also love their fine wine policy - it means you can actually splurge on a very special bottle when you're there and know you're not getting totally ripped off, as they only charge a fair corkage fee (up to £50 but never more) on top of what the retail price of the wine would be (more or less). It is a unique place, and I always enjoy falling through the rabbit whole and enjoying the world beneath.

The Grubworm said...

Blimey - your (and others') reviews have left a lasting impression that it could be a dangerous place to set foot in. Do I want to lose control like that? Well, yes, but do I dare?

I think i might just have to - it was the combo of champagne button and Russian food wot done it. The whiff of Tsarite decadence is almost too much to pass up.

Chris said...

Su-Lin: One other place - Rules :)

Grim: It wasn't cheap, but it was reasonable. Menu is here: http://www.bobbobricard.com/content/menus.html

mathildescuisine said...

Such a great review and I think you have found the exact words to describe Bob Bob Ricard: a huge, manipulative, mind-altering experiment in decadence.
And that's what makes this place so interesting!
The set, the food, the drink and even the owners bring you to a complete different world

Blonde said...

Oh no. Now I'm going to HAVE to go...

ScottCanCook said...

That is at the top of my eating hit list.

I must go very soon! Excellent review!

BurgerMonkey said...

Service was a bit of a mess when it first opened but now really hit its stride. Food is good (including the burger), atmosphere great and close to the office. But by god BBR is not cheap.

Anonymous said...
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Krista said...

Ah, you've beaten me to it with the dreamy praise of BBR! Maybe I will just copy your post and run it next week...(with proper accreditation of course)

"as good as I barely remember" -CLASSIC

Seriously though, went here last week after my photography class for a late dinner (remember--you almost came til I told you after 9:30!) and it was so unbelievably good and quirky that I think they might have catapulted themselves to #1 on my Top 10 list.

jamesramsden said...

Rude comments are much more effective when the perpetrator has the nuts to not be 'anonymous'. 'Anonymous' - do you have any nuts?

gastrogeek said...

another witty, erudite and entertaining post, if only our visits could had coincided... Excellent stuff, as always Chris!

Gourmet Chick said...

Ok I wanted to go ever since I heard about the push for champagne button but now I REALLY REALLY want to go

Eva Lai said...

ooh I'll fantasize about the salmon roe on quails egg. Looks irresistible etc.

Irene said...

How much did this cost?

I've spent on and off 3 hours on your blog today-yes i LOVE food-and although I want to go to the Fat Duck, am poor, but this could be the next best thing as I love good alcohol aswell?

May get my best friend to take me out for my birthday present to this place..

Thanks and love the blog!

Irene said...

Oops, missed the link you gave re the cost.

Too excited and posted without reading all the way through!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Thanks for sharing the link - but unfortunately it seems to be not working? Does anybody here at cheesenbiscuits.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


Thanks,
Thomas