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Bar Boulud – a Hidden Treasure in the Heart of Knightsbridge:
Swanky Knightsbridge perhaps isn’t the part of London you’d associate with one of the best burgers in town. Or with a menu that is friendly to the pocket and packed full of hearty Lyonnaise treats. Or with some of the best Charcuterie in London. Bar Boulud, the London offshoot from Michelin Starred chef Daniel Boulud offers all that and more. Directly opposite Harvey Nichols, with its own entrance, Bar Boulud is one of the F&B offerings from the glamorous Mandarin Oriental Hotel and perhaps suffers by being overshadowed. Dinner by Heston, directly above the Bar, is one of the top fifty restaurants in the world and with two Michelin stars offers a memorable gastronomic experience. The altogether more straightforward Bar Boulud may not have meat fruit or snail porridge on the menu, but what it does provide is the kind of excellent quality bistro experience that it’s hard to fault.
That said, I haven’t been to Bar Boulud for a while so I was delighted to be invited along just before Christmas to revisit the menu. It was the time of year when I generally know I’ve been eating too much and drinking too much already – and am aware that there’s more to come. For that reason, I decided to opt for oysters as my starter. Classically presented and beautifully fresh, it was a great choice, though I had a smattering of food envy when I saw some of the other options our table had picked.
But my oysters did justify (for me) indulging in the BB Burger which is perhaps best summed up as ‘everything you know you shouldn’t eat and more’. A hearty beef patty is topped with foie gras and short ribs, a generous dollop of piquant horseradish mayo and confit tomato all in a black onion seed brioche bun and served with chips of course.
There are two other burgers on the menu and a choice of three delicious-sounding Lyonnaise style sausages. Next time I’m ordering the Boudin Blanc enjoyed by my companion which comes with truffled mashed potato, apple confit, onion and pork jus!
If you prefer something a little more formal, Bar Boulud has a short ‘bistro style’ menu with classics including Poule au Pot and Truite Amandine. There’s not much on the menu in the way of veggie or vegan options at the moment, though we all loved the sound of the Gnocchetti with homemade pasta, butternut squash, Tuscan kale, Mimolette cheese and bacon and confit egg yolk (which can be served without the bacon for a veggie option). And, we were reliably informed that there would soon be a veggie burger option.
For those with a lighter appetite, there’s a pick your own Charcuterie’offering with everything made in-house by Chef Nicolas Rafa, following the charcuterie recipes of Maître Charcutier Gilles Vérot of Paris.
And there’s a set lunch/pre-theatre menu priced at £20 for two courses or £24 for three which includes Boudin Blanc, Cabillaud and a truffled Mac and Cheese as main course options.
Having worked my way through the BB Burger, I failed when it came to ordering dessert and ended up choosing the Cafe Gourmand, a double espresso for me with a pistachio financier, a mini lemon tart and a tiny chocolate moelleux. It’s a great compromise when you know you shouldn’t be ordering pudding…
Meanwhile, my companions made me jealous with their choices of the chef’s souffle and a chocolate dessert.
Wines at Bar Boulud are predominantly French from the Rhone Valley and Burgundy and the sommelier will help you to pick a bottle or glass of whatever works best with the food you’ve ordered. It’s a formal restaurant level of wine service in a bistro setting. Prices are altogether reasonable for this part of London – Starters well under £10 and main courses rising from just over £10 to £20+ depending on the ingredients. All in all, Bar Boulud is the kind of place where you wonder why you haven’t been before – until you realise that those who know about it don’t share
Mandarin Oriental Hotel,