Imagine, if you will, walking into an end-of-the-world Wiemar cabaret, a bright salon on the eve of a revolution. The air rich with decadence and possibility, and the clear whiff of luxury.
That’s how it felt, dining in the idiosyncratic, somewhat timeless BobBobRicard. The Wonkerish “press for champagne” button, the Pullman booths, the truffle, champagne and caviar laden menu. And of course there’s Leonid (aka Bob) leaning rakishly against our green leather booth. “Champagne?” he said, “after all, it is Wednesday.”
This Soho joint, beloved of bloggers, has been covered favourably and extensively elsewhere. I’ve avoided it till now, mainly because of it’s online ubiquity, there was a nagging worry that it couldn’t possibly live up to all the praise.
I was wrong. Books, covers and judges have gone flying out the window. It’s all green leather, dark wood and art deco tiles, like a glam and stylish Al Capone speakeasy in a twenties Moscow back alley.
I love this sort of almost-too-luxurious place, even if I can’t afford to go there that often. I like well made things. And whether that’s a Global chef’s knife, a Le Creuset pot or quails eggs with black truffles, I consider it money well spent.
And for once, I chose very well. Possibly because I didn’t select the main, a succulent leg of Elwy lamb cooked to pink and juicy perfection. All plaudits for that go to Catty. But my chosen starter was superb.
It was beautifully prepared venison tartar. The seasoning was spot on and no Worcestershire or Tabasco were required. Unctuous, smooth, meaty with a strong, but not overwhelming taste of deer. I could have had this for starter, main and dessert. Hell, i could’ve had it for elevensies and been happy.
The quails eggs and truffles showed some deft handling of strong flavours. Instead of overwhelming the creamy eggs, the truffle added an intense bouquet of earthy richness. The sort of thing you’d expect Bacchus to chow down with his vino.
A prawn cocktail was a pitch perfect rendition of the fifties classic. Big juicy pink prawns hung like punch glasses around a bowl. Looking over a pile of pink sauce and shredded lettuce. Out of which a grumpy looking prawn face glared.
The aforementioned lamb was tasty, a classic example of well sourced meat, cooked simply and brilliantly. This was actually as good as my mum’s lamb, which is not something I’ve ever been able to say of any restaurant roast lamb.
Mr Noodle’s veal Holstein was flawlessly executed, with a wee little quail’s egg fried and laid atop the golden crispy crunchy plate of tender cow. This was good stuff. And it came with smooth, earthy truffled mash.
And the pudding – oh my God the pudding. Another masterstroke of menu choosing here, I went for salted caramel ice cream with oh, some other flavours. Spooned, well shovelled really (there were greedy glances coming my way), into my mouth after a shot of frozen vodka, the sweet-savoury tang made my toes curl and squeezed a little jig of pleasure out of my tapping feet.
So, BobBobRicard. Big, bold and somehow still well balanced. Not for a daily visits, it’d tarnish the allure. But when the world’s crashing down around my ears, this is the place where I’ll be partying. Going down, all hands on the champagne bottle.
Around the blogs:
£60-£70 per person for three courses and drinks
1 Upper St James Street, London, W1F 9DF, 020 3145 1000, www.bobbobricard.com