Wednesday, 21 December 2011

From Russia with Love

On paper, it seems a disastrous premise: an English-Russian restaurant attempting to combine the most ‘luxurious’ dishes from two of the world’s worst possible cuisines. Cue nauseating memories of questionably lumpy school dinners, from pie and stroganoff to casseroles and dumplings. But Bob Bob Ricard, the retro Anglo-Russo brasserie, situated on Upper James Street in the beating heart of Soho, defiantly shows a gloved finger to such preconceptions. From the moment we were ushered through the door, it felt like a guilty pleasure, a naughty treat as fun as its bouncy name suggests- from the sparkly pink Christmas tree by the entrance to the green leather booth seating throughout. It felt like dining on Agatha Christie's Orient Express: combining art nouveau decor, polished brass and antique portraits, with elegant but in-your-face service (it took at least three waiters to help take our coats). We arrived without a reservation, so ended up dining at the bar- recommended if you like your cocktails shaken with a little conversation. Order the rhubarb gin and tonic- it isn't the signature cocktail for nothing. The most eccentric part of the whole shebang is the menu: a colourful, eclectic range of dishes that encompasses all the English and Russian classics (hello chicken pie and Bob’s chicken kiev) and adds in some oysters, caviar and jellied ox tongue for decadent measure. I paired an unusual starter- a Russian salad vodka shot with shavings of black truffle (surprisingly good, if a little too rich)-  with a cautious main course of eggs royale with smoked salmon (delicious, but not fancy enough given the price tag). After all, when hungry you can never be too risky. Thankfully, we can also recommend the truffled potato and mushroom vareniki (basically dumplings) - a relief considering we had no idea what it would be. Verdict? The menu can be a bit of a stab in the dark if you want to shy away from borsch and burgers and, in typical eastern European style, everything is perhaps too decadent- upmarket trash palpably demonstrated by the champagne button at each table. And Bob Bob Ricard itself is just a ridiculous name. But the secret is to just embrace it. This is more than just dining- it’s a step back into nostalgia: the golden glamour of elegant waiters in faded pink jackets and white gloves attending to your every need, champagne literally a button away. It's deliberately overly-done, outlandish with intent. And in a city dominated by tedious restaurant chains and fast food joints, Bob Bob Ricard’s kitsch personality is wholly refreshing. 

Bob Bob Ricard on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I honestly don't think they could have written a better advert themselves...sounds like an awesome restaurant! Keep writing, your blog posts are so very enjoyable to read. xx