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Bob Bob Ricard

1 Upper James Street, London, United Kingdom

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This Soho restaurant opening in 2008, owned by Leonid (whose nickname is Bob) Shutov and Richard Howarth. The slightly odd restaurant name is due to “Bob” having put up two thirds of the money for the restaurant.  The dining room is decorated in the style of an Orient express train, with booths reminiscent of dining cars. There is an emphasis here on luxury, and each booth has a “press for champagne” buzzer. What could be a rather tacky temple of excess is rescued by an emphasis on value in the wine list. Indeed this is one of the kindest priced wine lists in London at the high end, with many diners attracted here just for that. The policy is to have a fairly flat mark-up at the upper end of the list, so the top wines are relative bargains. Rather cheekily, and to my personal delight, the list actually points out just how cheap their top wines are by quoting the exact price at other top London restaurants. 

For example, Vega Sicilia Unico 1999 is listed here at £338 for a wine that retails at £261, yet the list gleefully points out that at Helene Darroze the identical wine costs £880. At the lower end of the list the list here is nothing special: Loimer Gruner Veltlinger 2012 was £46 for a wine that costs £11, but as you climb the list the prices get kinder and kinder. Girardin Vielle Vignes 2009 Puligny Montrachet was £79 for a wine that retails at £35, but Leoville Barton 1988 was £174 for a wine that will set you back £94 in a shop. If you are going to splurge on wine in a central London restaurant, this is the place to do it.

The food here is almost an aside. Starters were mostly priced at £8.50 to £13.75, mains generally £16.50 to £28.50, side dishes a rather hefty £4.50, desserts £6.50 to £10.50. Lobster pelmeni (ravioli) was quite good, the pasta reasonably tender with plenty of shellfish served with a seafood sauce (13/20). Venison tartare was served with quail egg, croutons and green salad, and can optionally be topped with Petrossian Alverta caviar. The venison was good, nicely seasoned (14/20). Matchstick fries were reasonably crisp (13/20).

Beef Wellington at £39.75 per person was the priciest of the main courses, but was very enjoyable, the Aberdeen beef rare inside its pastry casing, served with a beef jus; the pastry could have been more delicate but the beef was good (14/20). Crepes Suzette had pancakes that were slightly thicker than ideal but were perfectly pleasant, flambéed at the table (13/20). 

The bill came to a chunky £183 a head, but this was unrepresentative since we pushed the boat out on the wine (which is pretty much the whole point of coming here). If you ate three courses and had a modest wine between two then a more normal bill would be around £75 a head or so. Service was friendly and efficient. Bob Bob Ricard has pleasant but unexceptional food, but the wine list is the star of the show, and worthy of note for that reason alone, especially in London.

 

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@tiptoptaps @chrispople @Richardvines Also, a very tedious visa application form. Still - a lovely place.