Press for champagne: Those famous words and that famous button are back! Fortunately for those of us hedonists who appreciate the finer things in life, we have Bob Bob Ricard City. Closed for 18 months, it has now reopened with a deserved glittery buzz.
New head chef Ben Hobson started his career at Galvin at Windows, and with stints at Tom Kerridge’s Hand & Flowers and Yorkshire’s the Star Inn under his belt, he clearly knows his way around a kitchen, with a specialty in sophisticated French cuisine. The French influence can be clearly marked across the menu, with additional dishes now added that he spent months developing, including Coquilles Saint-Jacques, confit duck and rabbit a la moutarde.
But don’t you worry, the old banquettes complete with the “Press for champagne” buttons are very much still there, and the tables have been reworked to include a ravishing rosewood finish. Those fantastic cellars that I could spend a lifetime perusing still remain. The urge to dress like a 1930s gal in a sequinned flapper dress surges through me as I walk through the mirrored lounge and Marcel the general manager pours me a beautiful glass of Dom Perignon vintage 2012. I feel alive again! There’s no doubt that this restaurant is one of the most aesthetically pleasing in all of London, with plenty of clean geometric Art Deco lines of glass and wood, as well as those decadently spacious, almost private, booths.
Marcel tells us how happy he is to see Bob Bob Ricard City reopening, and glancing around at the full dining room, I can’t help but share his sentiments. All around me there is an uplifting, buoyant air. People are smiling, brimming with happiness, as though there is some kind of unspoken universal celebration that we are all privy to but cannot quite place. it’s wonderful.
A trip here would not be complete without utilising the press for champagne button and a serving of their impeccably frozen vodkas, a wonderful accompaniment to their taster-sized trifecta of caviars. We sample frosty glasses of the Russian Standard Platinum, a lovely smooth 4-times distilled and filtered through silver vodka, served at -18°C. The caviar selection includes Siberian, Russian Oscietra and Amurski sturgeon eggs served with a thick dollop of crème fraiche and fluffy blinis – it’s a luxurious yet light start to the meal. Freshly shucked oysters are also available, as well as steak and salmon tartares – both of the latter with options to top with even more caviar. This is Luxuriate Life personified.
For mains we elect for two pastry encased dishes – the 28-day beef wellington with truffle jus and the turbot coulibiac [a Russian specialty where the fish is wrapped in scallop mousse and then wrapped in puff pastry]. The coulibiac is far and away the star dish of the meal, and a must order if you visit. Served in a tongue-in-cheek fish shaped golden hued pastry, the turbot is juicy and firm, and the champagne-infused beurre blanc adds a nice bit of acidity to the fleshy white fish and burnished ochre pastry.
We close the meal with further French-influenced desserts, a rosy pink chocolate bombe and a classic flaming crème brûlée, served with a wonderful dessert wine chosen specially by head sommelier Giacomo.
The wine was so good, Giacomo even gave us a quick tour of the cellars, which house some of the rarest wines in London. Many of the wines on the menu can be served by the glass, meaning you can dabble across regions, price ranges and grape varieties with ease. It was SO interesting to discover that a decade ago, Bob Bob Ricard caused a sensation by capping the mark-up on fine wine at £50, however expensive the bottle. Today, this price policy remains in place, offering great value fine wine and champagne.
Is this restaurant in-your-face, a bit OTT and an assault on the senses? Unashamedly yes! But does it provide the City of London with a well-needed injection of fun, character and unrivalled ambience, with value for money luxury and one of the best wine lists in the country? ABSOLUTELY YES!
To press for champagne, visit: bobbobricard.com/city
All imagery courtesy of Bob Bob Ricard / Paul Winch Furness / Sonya Metzler.
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