Not sure how many days it was that I had sunk my head in books. I got to lift it up and sniff my way to a restaurant at last.
My choice? The Soho’s Best Friend Forever, formally known as Bob Bob Ricard.
It had never been love at first bite with me at BBR. I found the offerings too similar to The Wolseley and its Eggs Benedict less exuberant. That says it all about my taste bud – cream, egg, butter, egg, cream and one happy diner. Seriously, I could eat eggs – and in my ideal world the Japanese sweet omelette – for the rest of my life.
But, BBR was my choice today because I had a visitor. The place was presentable – classy but not intimidatingly so – marbled floors, gold chromes, waiters in waistcoats as colourful as Joseph (and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat), scented toilets…
Oh, and there was the Champagne Button. You pinged it; they’d pop it.
I did not ping it.
The bankers next to us did. “Bankers” are, indeed, the only breed that has a cause to toast in this economic clime… and Tories, too?
Never mind. I was sure I could turn their eyes green with my choice of dishes.
Scallops, Black Puddings and Apple to start.
If you could get over the fact that the dish was a swamp of oil, the flavour combination was not bad. The medallions of scallops and black puddings were nicely cooked. A hint of sweet and sour apples and peppery watercress would have cut through a lot nicer if it weren’t for the oil leakage.
For main it was this Wien Holstein, Truffled Mash.
When I said I could eat eggs for the rest of my life, I pictured them to be bigger than this. Classic takes with a scatter of anchovies, capers, shoots, roasted cherry tomatoes and courgettes. The presentation was very retro-Eastern European. Decent texture contrast. Feisty smell from the truffled mash. Crispy crumbs and tender veal. Substantial food. All good.
I actually preferred this Holstein to the one at The Wolseley.
My dining partner went for the Prix Fixe set. Very good value (£19 for a 2-course) and from the size of the cheeseburger it was generous. Really bite-heaven bacons, nicely charred medium rare patty (which could have benefitted with a bit more moisture inside and a more exciting bun). Not Goodman or Hawksmoor but fuck it!
Actually it was “fuck it” for my friend too. She happened to be an elderly lady who was no longer intrigued by a big piece of meat. So, I ate half. I’d rate it around Byron. More meaty but not as tender.
Desserts!! They were stellar. The trio of Creme Brulee – passion fruit, pistachio and raspberry – was the best I’d had in London. I’d rephrase it to the pistachio (top one) was the best I’d had in London. To my taste bud, a more superior version could be found at The Waterside Inn. But you will have to add £££££. The other two were very good but nowhere as close. The seeds of passionfruit were spooned to one side, which made the other half taste bizarrely bland.
Also very good was Strawberry and Cream Souffle. All puffy, ethereal. Good acidity and intense flavour from the coolie toned down by the delectable cream.
That was BBR. It still is not my BFF but I can see why everybody – or almost – loves it. The ambiance at night is usually better, I must add. Dimmed lights totally add a lot of glitz to the place. Surely it sets the mood for those still sober even after they ping for their bubbly.
My head rating says, “7 out of 10″.
My heart rating says, “7 out of 10″.
BOB BOB RICARD
1 Upper St James Street
Tel. 020 3145 1000