Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bob Bob Ricard, 11th September

Bob Bob Ricard is the kind of place to save for a special occasion, not least because of the eye-popping prices. It is sumptuous inside, employing that grandest of designs, art deco. A bit like Hoxley and Porter, I felt like I was on the inside of an Agatha Christie 20s train. It’s all plush leather booths (literally – every table is a booth), and each comes with the famous ‘Press for Champagne’ button.

Alison and I were having our final date. Yes, she has now moved back to the States and will no longer feature so heavily in these blog posts. So we wanted to do something a little bit special to mark the occasion. We started with an aperitif – a champagne Campari and orange for her, a cucumber martini for me. They were served in heavy, cut glass glasses, all in keeping with the art deco décor. These were absolutely scrumptious. I worried the cucumber might be overpowering but the elderflower kept it in check and it was an amazingly light, refreshing drink that I would gladly order again and again. Alison’s spruced up spritz was equally vivacious, a perfect bubbly starter.

We wanted to be decadent so we ordered dishes that spoke of luxury (easy to do in a place where caviar and truffle seem to appear on every other dish and they even put lobster in your mashed potato if you so choose).  So yes, in our one meal we managed to cram in all the posh food buzzwords – foie gras, truffle, lobster, soufflé.

And everything tasted really nice, but I wasn’t wowed by it. My starter of stinking bishops soufflé for example, on a chive sabayon, with salad of hazelnuts, apple and endive, looked quite pretty, but I was rather expecting a towering mousse, perhaps bursting from its ramekin. It was light, and it tasted very cheesy and worked really well with the oniony chive sauce. The salad was ‘deconstructed’ I guess you could call it and felt more like a token effort than part of the meal. None of the aspects went all that well with the souffle – some whole toasted hazelnuts were a bit pointless.

It turns out that lobster pelmeni Is lobster dumplings (or more like ravioli) and though I only had a half of one because of my allergy, they were a treat. They were parcels of salmon and lobster with some beads of salmon roe for an extra burst of fishiness.

Alison and I couldn’t pull ourselves away from the fillet mignon rossini which came with confit apple and foie gras for our mains. We added truffled mashed potato and sautéed spinach to this and had it cooked medium rare.

Some of this dish was wonderful, some of it I was a little baffled by, and unfortunately, quite a bit before I came to the end of the meal, most of it had gone cold. Two beautifully pink medallions sit atop one another, with seared foie gras to the side, lounging on some apple sauce. Spheres of the apple confit sat to the other side. These were odd, hard, cold marbles of apple that detracted, if anything, from the rest of the plate. The beef was fabulous, but as I said, became cold very quickly. This was my first time eating foie gras and it was amazing enough for me to not twinge with guilt when I ate it. Silky and smooth and delicate of flavour, I can see why it is so popular. The spinach was lightly sautéed so it still held it’s shape and texture, and the truffled mash was the right side of truffly, though could have been a bit creamier. I would have welcomed much more of the truffle gravy that came with the steak, especially as it could have been used to keep the morsels warmer.

We had already decided that the famous ‘press for champagne’ button would get utilized and so it did. What happens is that almost instantly a waiter appears at your table to ask your preference from the champagne list. You can have anything you want from a glass to a bottle, no pressure. We simply had a glass each which arrived swiftly. We both thought that it would be quite fun if they cut out the middle man, and each time you pressed the button, a glass for everyone at the table would miraculously appear. I understand why they don’t but still…

And finally, it was time for dessert. The main had slowly and stealthily filled me up, but for a goodbye dinner of course we had to have dessert. We decided to share the chocolate fondant, which came with a ball of white chocolate ice cream. This was cooked well – plenty of oozy chocolate in the middle of its crunchier chocolate surrounding, but as with my soufflé, I was underwhelmed by its presence. It was a small, thin little thing, looking rather boring sat on its big plate. In general the presentation of the food did not live up to its surroundings, and, though it was nice to eat, it was not spectacular.

Service was exactly right and gave the whole experience an extra boost – friendly and efficient, everyone happy to answer any questions. I had a very lovely meal, and I’m glad we went. But I doubt I would go back for the food. However if you’re looking to impress, or celebrate and you’re after some classy, well executed drinks, the bar is a must.

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Find the menu and restaurant information on Zomato.

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