London: Bob Bob Ricard
Slide into your booth at Bob Bob Ricard, a Soho restaurant serving English and Russian classics, and you may think you’re there for some fancy food. Think again. You’re in for a good time. Bob Bob Ricard is a sure thing, any night of the week. Press for champagne, sit back and enjoy.
When I write about a restaurant, I’m usually first and foremost about the food. But Bob Bob Ricard won me over with everything but the food. The food was somehow secondary… It’s very good, but it didn’t blow me away. But then again, most restaurants don’t.
And it made me realise, there are of course many non-food factors that make up the success and overall experience of a restaurant: price, value for money, drinks, service, reliability, ambience, sentimentality, convenience… Bob Bob Ricard is one such place, it ticks many boxes. I’m reminded of Benihana’s, always an entertaining meal with great food, but it is what it is, teriyaki chicken and rice. It takes more than that to earn a Michelin star, folks.
That introduction might make it puzzling for you to hear that it’s a favourite among many London food bloggers and prominent magazines. I suppose that reinforces the fact that the food, while not spectacular, is actually very good, while the ambience, which is most spectacular, makes it a top choice for a date or dinner out with friends. I definitely recommend this place.
The name, Bob Bob, said twice, sounds a bit ridiculous, a bit obnoxious. But I love to say it. “I’m going to Bob Bob Ricard tonight.” Where? And the interior is beautiful, it’s glamorous and glitzy, old school. The tables are organised into booths, wide and spacious, I felt like I could fit a whole other person both to the left and right of me. Such space truly being a luxury in a cramped city like London. The space transports me somewhere else.
Perhaps it’s also the vodka shots at -18 degrees that gets things started on the right foot. There’s nothing like an ice cold vodka shot to get the (dinner?) party started… They also shake up fantastic cocktails, although it’s the press for champagne button in the centre of the table that attracts all of the attention and admiration. It’s a button! It must be pressed! We looked around at each other… to see who would press it first. George beat me to it. The button lights up and a waitress is at our table in a flash to take our champagne order. We go for a bottle, because why not, it’s Monday!
Ok, I lie, it’s not a regular Monday, it’s George’s birthday. So the champagne was more than called for. We order our starters, baked oysters with parmesan and truffle for Dad, salmon tartare for me, crab salad for George’s brother Alex and some egg thing for George. So far so good. The presentation is excellent and the meal, very enjoyable.
For mains, George and Dad share a Beef Wellington, their signature dish, Alex takes a Chicken Kiev and I opt for the Lobster Mac & Cheese. The boys get some truffle fries and mash on the side. The beef comes perfectly cooked and was super delicious, although much too much in terms of quantity, easily feeding 3-4. But that’s hardly a complaint for most.
I’m only disappointed with my Mac & Cheese, although it has plenty of lobster, it’s a bit dry and needs more flavour, more punch, garlic maybe, and a crispier top. I want to feel it crunch, I want the creaminess to coat my tongue, I want the pasta goodness and the lobster freshness… I’m left wanting.
Dessert. Dad impressively manages a whole cheese after all that food, George and Alex tuck into a creme brûlée that comes on fire (and with a man who has to stand and watch until the fire burns out.) I opt for two little glittery balls of chocolate. George gets a strange pink, glittery marshmallow birthday ‘cake’. But we don’t complain because it’s on the house. We order another round of vodka shots and start to wish it wasn’t a Monday…