Bob Bob Ricard, 1 Upper James Street, Soho, London W1F 9DF
After Hawksmoor, Bob Bob Ricard was a restaurant I had been wanting to visit for such a long time. And I mean really long, like two years long. Having been a regular in Bobby’s Bar for pre or post-dinner drinks at other establishments, I’d eye up the Russian/English combo menu and sigh.
Bobby’s Bar became one of my favourite places in London, scratch that, anywhere. A place that I would bring loved ones and continually recommend to others. The most stunning space, think opulent Orient Express with a slight American diner feel. Dripping in brass, with marble and wood panelling, a red theme for downstairs and blue for up. The ‘press for champagne’ button at each restaurant booth sums the place up, it is like nowhere else in London, truly special. My most adored part is the downstairs area in the bar, dark and glistening with black cab style pull down seats. Just imagine if owners Leonid Shutov and Richard Howarth did hotels too…
So last November, we were walking through Soho, past Bob Bob and Ade mistakenly chose that moment to ask me what I would like for Christmas. I looked over and said ‘just take me to Bob Bob, and I mean the restaurant, not just the bar’. He turned slightly pale, but agreed. Little did I know that he had already bought me loads of stuff already. But being the lovely guy that he is, he still took me to Bob Bob too.
There’s nothing like a two-year wait to visit a restaurant to really get your hopes up, no pressure BBR. After a slight set back involving an ex boyfriend and a lurgy (don’t ask), we finally got there.
Now the service in Bobby’s Bar has always been pure perfection, we have never seen anything like it. We even wondered if the booths were bugged*. On one visit I leant across and quietly asked a friend whether he had ever tried their vodka which is served at -18°c, as if by magic a waiter arrived clutching the vodka and a caviar menu… Spooky! *Don’t worry, obviously they’re not.
Anyway, after a cocktail downstairs we were swiftly approached by a waitress at 7.59 telling us our table is ready. Having already examined the menu extensively, we knew precisely what we were having.
Opting out of a starter for once, we’re not ashamed to say it was because we were watching the pennies. I went for the Chicken, mushroom and champagne pie, served with truffle gravy £15.50, with Carrots and parsnips roasted in beef dripping with maple syrup and thyme £4.50. It was impossible to steer away from the cocktails onto wine, they are just too good. The fluffy pink signature Rhubarb gin and tonic £9.25 is one of my favourites (am sure it was £2 less when I first fell in love with it), but now there’s stiff competition with a Black cherry Amaretto sour £12.50 on the menu…
My pie was the most beautiful pie I had ever seen, with a golden sheen and emblazoned with the BBR logo. Tender chunks of chicken in a not too creamy sauce. All the flavours balanced, not one ingredient over-powered another. I was ever so slightly disappointed to find it had no walls, however. But then I probably would have been too full for dessert if there had been.
The carrots and parsnips sounded incredible on the menu but unfortunately they weren’t what I was expecting, they were so heavily salted we were both unable to eat them all. And a pet hate, a cold plate meant the spooned out pie went cold far too quickly.
Ade’s Lobster burger £26.75, complete with a little tail sticking out the side, was delicious. The whole breaded lobster tail sat atop a colourful and delicately dressed chopped salad, all in a sweet glazed brioche bun, served with a Marie Rose sauce. The Macaroni & cheese £6.50 needed a little more oomph, it was hard for Ade to put his finger on exactly why. Maybe it was a little stodgy or maybe it wasn’t as good as his benchmark favourite served in the Heliot.
Dessert was unusually for me the highlight. I am not a big sweet person but Ade’s Eton Mess En Perle £8.25 was gorgeous. A clever take on the original: Lime meringue, berries, strawberry sorbet, raspberry marshmallows and cream. Despite loving my Trio of Crème brulées (Valrhona chocolate, passionfruit, earl grey tea) £7.50, I still had dessert envy. My brulées passed the satisfying crunch test, like Ade with his perfect macaroni cheese quest, I am always on the hunt to find a brulée that rivals my favourite at Pub du Vin in Brighton.
As we were sipping our cocktails after dinner, we were approached by a waitress asking if we could finish our drinks downstairs as they need the table back. This may seem petty for me to comment on, but it was 9.30 and the booking said they’d need it back by 9.45. This left a bit of a bad taste in our mouths, yes, I do love it downstairs but we didn’t like being rushed. Another five minutes and we’d have been gone anyway.
Like I said at the start, when you’ve been looking forward to something for so long it can get very hyped up in your head, and you notice every single little detail (more so than we usually do). Plus praise from Bob Bob regulars in the office gave me no reason to expect anything less than perfection. Or perhaps we’re just too fussy, who knows. We would still give it another whirl, no doubt about it, such a unique and beautiful place. It just might have to wait until next Christmas…
1 Upper James Street, Soho, London W1F 9DF
Telephone: 0203 145 1000
Opening hours: Monday to Friday – 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
5:30 pm – 12:00 midnight (last sitting at 10:00pm)
Saturday – 5:30 pm – 12:00 midnight (last sitting at 10:00pm)
Sunday – 12:30pm – 3:00pm, 6:00pm – 12:00am
Christmas & New Year – Closed December 24, 25, 26, 31 and January 1
Nearest tube Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus