Pressing for Champagne at Bob Bob Ricard
There are times in my life when I just want to have fun. And eat well. And drink champagne. Those moments mark the perfect opportunity to visit Bob Bob Ricard in Soho. Long a staple of the Soho restaurant scene now, Bob Bob Ricard is the go-to place for a grown-up good time, renowned for its glamorous interior, encouragement of louche behaviour and its infamous “Champagne Button”.
What’s more, if Soho isn’t your scene, Russian owner Leonid “Bob” Shutov has now created a sister restaurant to the Soho original, Bob Bob Cité, in the Leadenhall Building aka “The Cheesegrater”, an impervious monument to the brute power of the financial service industry that inhabits it.
It would be a waste to turn up at Bob Bob Ricard and not drink fizz – we indulged in a bottle of Bollinger Special Cuvée, which was rich and aromatic. One of the best excuses I know for visiting is that the original wine list promised a mark-up of no more than £50. I’m not sure if that holds true today but certainly, you can buy decent champagne at a price that doesn’t make me cringe and vow only to drink at home.
Mark-ups in London restaurants can be three to four times the price of the original bottle. And certainly, the wine list today has at the top of the Champagne list a Krug vintage 1988 which retails through some wine merchants for more than the restaurant sells it for. Our Special Cuvée was £89 – with most retailers selling for a little under £40. And, if you drink champagne at home you don’t get the champagne button to play with – or the excellent food to enjoy.
We shared a degustation of three caviars between us. Generous helpings of Siberian Sturgeon which was mild and gentle, Russian Oscietra Sturgeon which had a sweet almost peachy note to it and Amurski Sturgeon which was salty and intense. Served with crème fraîche and blini and washed down with shots of Russian Standard Original Vodka we enjoyed pretending to be Russian Billionaires, albeit briefly!
For our mains, a classic chicken Kiev filled with garlic and parsley butter was nicely executed and oozing with garlic butter sauce.
My own chateaubriand from 28-day-aged Aberdeenshire Scotch beef was perfectly cooked to my order (rare) and served with a deliciously meaty truffle jus that only lost out on potency because of the truffled French fries which came with a generous grating of fresh black truffle.
The prettiest of the main courses, a turbot coulibiac with champagne sauce was a delightful pastry fish filled with turbot fillet a subtle scallop mousse and mushroom duxelles. Wrapped in the lightest puff pastry and served with a champagne beurre blanc. It wasn’t my order this time – but it will be next!
We also enjoyed a side order of lightly sautéed spinach in confit garlic olive oil and a seasonal garden salad with melted goats cheese and smokey roast beetroot.
Only one of us could manage dessert – and what a stunning dish it was – a flaming crème brûlée with a classic eggy filling and crisp burnt top. But, I did indulge in whisky laced chocolate truffles with my coffee. And we left replete and glowing.
What makes Bob Bob Ricard a worthwhile evening out is that it always feels special. Perfect for social distancing, the seating is based on booths, with mirrors, marble and dark green leather adding to the feeling of opulence. Although it actually opened in 2008, there’s a sense of stepping back in time to a period when dressing for dinner was de rigueur and when elegance and glamour expected.
So, if you are looking for somewhere to treat yourself…well, why not press for champagne soon!
Bob Bob Ricard
1 Upper James St
Looking for more Russian style glamour? How about Novikov in the heart of Mayfair? There’s an Italian and an Asian side to this classic restaurant and bar