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Bob Bob Ricard and Press for Champagne reaches the City.
Bob Bob Ricard has long been a staple of the Soho restaurant scene. Renowned for its glamorous interior, encouragement of louche behaviour and its infamous “Champagne Button”, it’s the go-to place for a grown-up good time.
Russian owner Leonid Shutov has now created a sister restaurant to the Soho original in the Leadenhall Building, aka “The Cheesegrater”, a monument to the brute power of the financial service industry that inhabits it.
However, the 3rd floor has been handed over to Shutov who with a £25 million spend has created a stunning digital jewel box of a restaurant. The design by Brady William Studio is influenced by the gondola of a Zeppelin with 180 covers all in their own booths as well as a number of private rooms. There are red and blue areas with the leather seats and fittings reflecting the colour theme. Each of the rooms has the red or blue digital table numbers snaking around the top of the walls and excitingly when you push the champagne button the number changes colour proudly proclaiming your fizz fetish to the rest of the room. In the kitchen is Eric Chavot. This is a big deal as Eric previously won a couple of Michelin stars when at The Capital Hotel as well as having stints at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, La Tante Claire, Harvey’s, Marco Pierre White’s “The Restaurant”, Chez Nico and his own restaurants Interlude de Chavot and later Chavot on the Fulham Road. The website promises “classic French country cooking” taking “inspiration in the flavours of his (Chavot’s) native Arcachon and his mother’s cooking.” But rather than anything particularly regional the menu is a paean to the classics of cuisine paysanne including escargots en persillade, French onion soup, veal blanquette and desserts of baba au rhum and île flottante.I’m a sucker for the champagne button and her ladyship and I ordered a glass of fresh, yeasty Bollinger Special Cuvée for me and the light strawberry notes of Billecart Salmon Rosé for her. If I had a criticism of the setup at Bob Bob Cité it would be that unlike at BBR your champagne order is taken by a waiter without the theatre and romance of a champagne trolley. I love a champagne trolley and have started a one-man campaign for it to be brought back…
But what about the food?
French onion soup was robust and hearty enough to satisfy Gerard Depardieu after a hard night on the town, topped with grilled sourdough croutons and nutty Comté cheese to add even more glutinous texture to the proceedings. Chunky saumon fumé impérial was a much more sophisticated affair with thick cubes of the smoky fish counterpointed with lemon jelly, green gazpacho, potatoes, pickled onions and topped with a decent blob of salty Siberian sturgeon caviar. It was a beautifully balanced luxe starter at an eye-watering £26.50 and sums up the Bob Bob ethos perfectly. I washed it down with a shot of Russian standard vodka, chilled to minus 18 degrees vodka being another part of the Bob Bob thing.
Grilled lobster thermidor with brandy sauce was juicy and tender with the sauce adding an alcoholic richness to the aristocratic crustacean – imagine eating Princess Margaret…
A more affordable way to consume the beloved clawed arthropod was the Lobster macaroni aux quatres fromage. With a crunchy top, the lobster was bathed in a sophisticated sauce of gruyère, cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan. It was supercharged comfort food for city slickers.
Le Colonel is one of the most decadent desserts but somehow manages to feel astringent and even healthy. A dollop or two of lemon sorbet is topped off with Russian Standard Platinum Vodka cleaning the palate as well as giving you a final alcohol hit before you jump into your Über home. Bon Bob Cité has great food, a fantasy interior and impeccable service but on the night I visited it lacked one crucial ingredient and that was atmosphere. The city boys and girls simply didn’t have the appropriate joie de vivre to make the joint rock. I have a simple solution for Leonid. As a favour, I would come in a few nights a week to get things going. Greater love hath no man…
Bob Bob Cité
The Leadenhall Building (The Cheesegrater),
122 Leadenhall Street,
+44 203 928 6600
Looking for more options and places to drink champagne – we rather like the Middle Temple Champagne Bar, an al-fresco bar in the heart of the Inns of Law.