By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Sadly, very few high-end London restaurant offer guests the chance to feast upon a luxurious Beef Wellington. However, when the traditional British dish does make its way onto a menu, this writer can barely contain his excitement, even if a triple-figure bill does often entail, and thankfully the standout dish at Bob Bob Ricard does not disappoint.
Since opening at the tail end of 2008, the English/Russian Soho restaurant has managed to impress its guests, for the most part, having become widely popular within the London restaurant scene – and following our recent visit, the hype that surrounds the place is more than justified. The décor (inspired by Edwardian train travel) evokes the roaring twenties with more glamour than you’d expect from a party at Jay Gatsby’s. Every table is a booth, containing a plug socket and a buzzer that simply reads “Press for Champagne”, but with the cheapest bottle priced at £65 we did manage to resist the urge to test the feature. As for the food, it’s far from cheap, starters range between £8.50 and £34.50 (£79 for Alverta Imperial Caviar) and the average cost of a main is around the mid £20 mark. However, although most restaurants that charge £99 for a Beef Wellington to share are generally all fur coat and no knickers; at Bob Bob Ricard, the case is that you’ll receive the exactly quality that you’re paying for. To start, my companion’s Salmon Tartar was delicious, served alongside a refreshing salad of Fennel and Cucumber, while I opted for the Waldorf Salad (as an avid Fawlty Towers fan). The salad was fine, yet the strong Roquefort and cheese dressing does manage to slightly overpower the freshness of Grapes, Apple and Celery.
On to the mains – generally speaking – as far as Beef Wellingtons are involved, it can all go a bit “Come Dine With Me”. Unbelievable pretentiousness, soggy pastry, and that one guest that insists on having the Fillet served well-done. Thankfully, this isn’t the case this evening, worth the 45 minute wait, the Beef is perfectly pink and tender, the crepe spread with Mushroom Duxelle, acts as a barrier for the cooking juices between the Meat and Puff Pastry, and the rich Gravy adds a whole new (unnecessary) dimension to the dish. Ample for at least two, the Pastry could be a little thinner, but the overall dish was sensational. Arthur Wellesley would even be proud.
With little room left for Desserts, an Eton Mess En Parle, served in an edible pink dome to match the waiters’ Candyfloss coloured uniforms, featuring a Lime Meringue, fresh Berries, Marshmallows and a strong Basil garnish that accompanies the Strawberries beautifully. While the Strawberries and Cream Soufflé is not only delicious, it also arrives unbelievably promptly. The reception is warm, the décor is stunning and the food is marvellous: while the luxurious comfort food is not for every day, it’s well worth saving up and visiting Bob Bob Ricard for a special occasion that you’ll remember for years to come.
Bob Bob Ricard can be found at 1 Upper James Street, London, W1F 9DF