Every restaurant should have a push for champagne button. No make, that every house. Sadly though there is only one place in London with push for champagne buttons, Bob Bob Ricards in Soho. The buttons aren’t the only unusual thing about this eccentric restaurant. Rumoured to feature the most expensive restaurant fit out in London, the interior is seriously luxurious and just a bit whacky. The walls are covered in plush blue paper, the waiters are nattily attired in pink outfits and the whole place is monogrammed to within an inch of its life. It’s a diner on speed or a restaurant that has fallen down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole. Love it or hate it (and I loved it) you can’t say Bob Bob Ricard is boring.
The famous buttons in each booth
A little behind the rest of London, I ate at Bob Bob Ricard’s for the first time last week with a host of other food and drink obsessed people as part of a London Food and Drink Bloggers meet up. Surely this crowd was most restauranters worst nightmare but the staff at Bob Bob Ricards looked after us with care and just a little bit of pizzazz. We started with Bob Bob Ricard’s signature pink rhubarb gin and tonic (£7.50), a seriously good drink. The saying is that gin is a depressant for one in three but there was nothing depressing about this peachy flavoured concoction.
Ox tounge in aspic
The menu itself is more Russian than you find in Russia. It is a check list of luxury ingredients and time consuming preparation featuring aspic, truffles, veal and quails eggs. Bob Bob Ricards is clearly ignoring all those rules about margins in the restaurant business. Aspic, impressive as it may be is not one of my favourite things in the world so I can’t say I loved the pre starter of jellied ox tounge with creamed horse radish (£7.50) although I did appreciate the quivering, glistening glory of it. I preferred the accompanying short of vodka Imperia which was served chilled at minus 18 degrees.
Russian salad was more up my alley, with lots of cream, potatoes and (this being Bob Bob Ricard) topped with black truffles. Incredibly luxurious the earthy flavour of the truffles shone in this dish. Too add to how over the top nature of the dish it was served with Kauffman vodka, a vodka so smooth that when you swallowed the drink it was like drinking water rather than the burn of vodka.
A main of tender, breaded veal (£21.50) was served with quails eggs, yet more truffle in the mashed potatoes and a rich, intensley reduced sauce that was hidden underneath the veal. I thought that was a theatrical dish but it had nothing on the dessert called “chocolate glory” (£8.75)which was a chocolate sphere which disintegrated when hot chocolate was poured onto it to reveal chocolate mousse, a chocolate brownie and passionfruit orange jelly. It was incredibly spectacular and also totally overwhelming to the extent I could only eat about half of it. This is one to order and share between the table not to try to consume alone. Dessert was matched with a glasss of honey sweet Sauternes from Bordeaux (£11.75). Special mention should be made of the wine list which features many wines and champagnes at minimal mark ups. The wine list cleverly highlights the price at Bob Bob Ricards in comparison to other London restaurants. One champagne was 140 per cent more expensive elsewhere!
Russian cuisine is not my favourite style of food, but I loved Bob Bob Ricard for its eccentricity, incredible attention to the finer things in life and for its sheer difference to every other restaurant in London. What a treat and what a trip.
Details: 1 Upper James Street, Soho W1F 9DF (Ph 020 3145 1000) Tube: Oxford Circus
Damage: Pricey. We had a set menu of £35 a head which was great value but if you order a la carte the prices add up.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my review of Polpo which is across the road from Bob Bob Ricard and a very different restaurant. Otherwise you can read about my meal at one of Russia’s top restaurants in St Petersburg (more aspic on the menu!).