Champers on Tap
As well as its famed “Press for Champagne” buttons, Soho’s Bob Bob Ricard has upped its food game even more with Michelin starred Eric Chavot joining the team in 2017
Review by Martin Stickley
British economist John Maynard Keynes is rumoured to have said;
“My only regret is that I have not drunk more Champagne in my life.”
Now who would have thought that a man who went on to change the global face of modern finances would have had such a taste for decadence? Certainly not me, but despite lacking Baron Keynes economic wisdom we share something in common, namely that I too lament the fact that too little of the wonderous liquid has passed this author’s lips. Thankfully, being the right side of 40 means that I am still young enough to have time on my side to do something to rectify the situation and so what better place to start redressing the balance than a visit to Bob Bob Ricard in Soho, a restaurant so familiar with bubbly that it claims to serve more of it than any other eatery in the UK.
Walking into Bob Bob Ricard is like how I imagine it would be like to walk into a Bond villain’s luxurious hideaway dining room, except without the perilous menace or double entendres. The magnificent glamour of the interior is incredibly tasteful; luscious dark wood, glittering crystal, cobalt blue and verdant green jade seem to be everywhere you look and as you’re impeccably ushered into one of the booths you see for the first time the fabled “champagne button.” For those who aren’t already familiar with Bob Bob’s legacy, I’ll explain; each dining booth (and they really are semi-private booths rather than tables – something which really adds intimacy to the fun) has a button on the wall labelled “Press for Champagne.” Within seconds of said button being pressed a waist coated waiter will appear and top up your glass. Can you imagine that? No more do you have to pour your own drink at the table or rely on catching the eye of a distant member of staff, a fresh glass is mere centimetres away from the tip of your finger. Believe me, this isn’t just a gimmick, it’s a justified (and some would say necessary) addition to the extravagant entertainment of your dining experience. After a few presses I’m sure you’ll be left wondering where Bob Bob get their beautiful toys.
Whilst the fame of Bob Bob Ricard’s Champagne experience may be well entrenched they now have another string to add to their bow. Last year the restaurant welcomed executive chef Eric Chavot on board; a man who previously held two Michelin stars for a decade and therefore knows a thing or two about setting the bar high for food. Eric has developed a new element to the Bob Bob menu, bringing a comfort-rich mix of English and Russian inspired dishes (including the newly-launched vegan recipes) to an already impressive line-up. This includes incredibly delicious dishes like Truffled Potato & Mushroom Vareniki (traditional Russian dumplings served with crispy onion and shimeji mushrooms) and Tolma a La Tolstoy (courgette and round vine tomato stuffed with spiced chickpeas, bulgar wheat and quinoa, served with zhug and tomato coulis). Trust me, these two dishes combine incredibly complex flavours with very modern textures to create contemporary wonders. These recipes also act as proof that now is the great modern age of inclusive modern dining as we start to see an increasing number of high-end establishments become less afraid of offering menus which cater for a wider range of dietary requirements. Not that this means Bob Bob are entirely removing meat from their offerings; there is still a place for classics such as Chateaubriand and Beef Wellington on the menu. Eric also claims that he has perfected the Sunday Roast, the quintessentially British meat-worshipping dish. His incarnation features a range of mouth-watering delights including 35-day aged topside Aberdeenshire beef, slow-roasted Agria potatoes triple-cooked in veal fat, duck fat & butter and twice-baked Yorkshire puddings. Sumptuous ingredients to match sumptuous surroundings!
Bob Bob Ricard can be found on Upper James Street, Soho and is open 365 days a year from 12:30 to 15:00 and 18:00 until midnight. They have also introduced an attractive new “off-peak” lunchtime pricing structure whereby the full dinner menu is available for, on average, 20 per cent less than “peak” price.
Enquires: Bob Bob Ricard, 1 Upper James Street, Soho, London, W1F 9DF / 0203 1451000 / www.bobbobricard.com/
Photography by Paul Winch-Furness