New on the blog! We will be reviewing new places we try, restaurants, delis, bars, pubs and even holiday destinations! Ali starts this month with a visit to the glamorous Bob Bob Ricard.

Restaurant review: Bob Bob Ricard, 1 Upper James Street, Soho

After a brief sojourn and a swift glass (or 2) at The Glasshouse Stores in the heart of Soho our group of four despatched to Bob Bob Ricard in the hope of being recognised as ‘eclectic clientele’ (their words, not mine). After being greeted we were led to the red dining room where the opulance and comfort did nothing to aleviate my feeling that I was about to eat in the boudoir of a woman with an air of promiscuity. That said, the booths definitely added to the atmosphere and led us to believe that we were in a private dining room and, yes, there was a button on the table labelled ‘press for Champagne’. We didn’t but I, more than once, had to stop my husband from leaning on it. An occasional glance around eased my fears that, despite it being the evening before Valentines Day, the restaurant was not full of romantic couples (or even of those feigning romance). There were, of course, couples but there were also mixed groups and a table of women out for a laugh and (hopefully) a good meal.

I have a habit of reading all I can about a restaurant (including the menus) before visiting and almost always know what I am going to order before I get there.  This time was no different. The restaurant specialises in English and Russian classics and the boys decided to go Russki with one ordering Siberian Pelemi with Beef Tea and the other Truffled Potato and Mushroom Vareniki – both dumpling dishes, one with beef broth and the other with crispy onion and mushrooms. I sampled the Siberian Pelemi and it was a true delight – light dough in a broth full of flavour.  Both plates would have been clean were it not for the fact that a spoon wasn’t offered for the broth, shame. The girls both ordered Stinking Bishop Cheese Souffle, twice baked and served on chive sabayon with endive, apple and hazelnut salad. So light, fluffy and mouth-wateringly scrumptious I could have eaten two.

The main courses (in the main) were equally gratifying. The boys chose Crispy Pork Belly and Filet Mignon Rossini and for the girls it was Grilled Sole with Champagne Sauce and Roast Norwegian Cod. Three dishes completely met expectations and plates were licked. The pork belly was crowned with perfect crackling (crunchy but with no fear for your teeth) and was complemented beautifully by the sweet and tart red cabbage and apple puree and the rich truffle gravy. The filet mignon was almost outshone by the seared fois gras, confit apple and truffle gravy accompaniments (there’s a gravy theme here) but held its own because it was cooked to medium rare perfection. The grilled sole was served under a light hollandaise and Champagne sauce and with white grapes, fine herbs and tomato fondue. The dish proved to be perfectly flavoured to taste and perfectly beautiful to look at. The cod was mine and did everything it said on the tin. It was a lovely, fresh looking and tasting dish. The flavours of truffle, balsamic and curry were all perceptible but by no means overpowering and my side order of French fries were more than moreish.  The reason I didn’t clear my plate?  The cod was just a little bland (as cod can be) and I was rather envious of the pork belly.

Starters, main course and 4 (yes, 4!) bottles of Chianti later and we decided to share dessert and cheese. The chocolate fondant was wonderfully fondant and shared centre stage with milk ice cream, a chocolate and almond brandy snap and mint crème Anglaise. The potted Roquefort was a perfect temperature and cheesy as you like.

The waiting staff were extremely attentive but completey unobtrusive (which is probably how I happened to drink so much Chianti)!  We were asked to vacate our table after two and half hours which brought our evening to an abrupt end but we knew we had a time limit so hey ho. As we were leaving the host was overhead (on the phone) telling a guest that he would ‘have to pay for late cancellation’ and that ‘the restaurant had his credit card details’.  Not the best au revoir for these guests but a restaurant I would recommend and visit again if there weren’t so many more I want to overindulge at.

Alison Hoy