What: The famed ‘press for Champagne’ restaurant in Soho, Bob Bob Ricard, was the subject of my foodie attention on a Tuesday evening. A stalk on Instagram was enough to excite, wowed by the glitz and glam. I’d gone to try out the new vegan dishes Bob Bob has just introduced which dropped on the A La Carte menu circa 17th July, accompanied by lover of all things vegan, colleague Charlotte. Luxe is at the helm of this stalwart restaurant positioned down a side-street of sexy Soho.
The Setting: It’s one of Soho’s most insta-d locations so expectations were thriving, but from the outside Bob Bob Ricard is quite ominous. I think this adds to the wow-factor inside however. Set amongst a buzzing Soho, this atmosphere is then replicated on the inside in this “place to be” parlour of creative colour. Bob Bob has that luxurious eccentricity to it that I remember seeing before at Sketch. Soho struck gold with this restaurant when it opened up ten years ago.
The Look: Like a great Gatsby party fused with the electric colours of the recent unicorn and doughnut chairs in swimming pools phase. It’s glam, it’s shiny it’s rich in midnight blues and pastel pinks, and it’s ridiculously suave. There’s Prussian blue leather blanketing the restaurant, which works wonders against marble and surrounding tables clad with pastel pink plates and crystal everywhere. Just walking through the door transports you to some Russian oligarch style house.
On the Menu: The executive head chef Eric Chavot has an impressive Michelin star scattered CV, one from Brasserie Chavot and two from The Capital. Suffice to say, we felt we were in pretty safe hands with Chavot at the helm of the vegan menu curation. Quite funnily, he came over mid-way through our meal and asked “mal avec ça?” (what’s wrong with that?) jokingly, as he peered over the bits of pearl barley my fork hadn’t yet match made with. For a chef to hold that level of confidence about his dishes to come over and say hey, no good? Well, I loved it and I thought he was fabulous, on the chef front along with the humour.
The menu serves English and Russian classics, a glam take on traditional comfort food, but we were there to sample the select few vegan dishes.
What We Ate: Every time I think of Waldorf salad I immediately think about Fawlty Towers, (if you haven’t seen the scene with Basil and the American, you need to). So, every time I see a Waldorf salad adorning a menu I’m drawn to it. As one of my favourites then, I was interested to see how the dressing, typically made using mayonnaise, yoghurt and lemon juice, faired in vegan form. My verdict? Very good. The salad, in all of its apple and celery glory, tasted just like it would’ve vegan or not. After the palette whet, it was onto mains. Two are offered: Pearl barley kasha and pickled forest mushrooms and Tolma a La Tolstoy which features courgette and round vine tomato stuffed with spiced chickpeas, bulgar wheat and quinoa and zhug and tomato coulis. I’m a big fan of a pickled mushroom so I opted for the pearl barley kasha despite wanting a bit of Tolstoy. The pearl barley again wasn’t overwhelming in stodge. It’s mixed together with sparkling water which makes it a very refreshing dish and the appearance screams health, with cute mushrooms and peas scattered over the top and a light green visage.
I found myself feeling surprisingly full mid-way through the meal; this wasn’t a reflection of the dishes but more a result of the heat wave we’re currently experiencing, stripping me of my appetite. However, I was intrigued by the rum and raisin rice pudding, mouth-wateringly so. The dessert comes with vintage Panama rum, coconut, caramelised banana and mango sorbet, and has the ability to quite a sickly-sweet offering but the cool mango sorbet is quite a contrast to the other richer flavours involved.
What We Drank: Everything! Well, not really, but you try sitting in front of a ‘press for Champagne’ button and see if your head is sore or not come the morning. We started out with champers, then I had red to accompany my food. Meanwhile, during courses we were presented with shots of Vodka. Yes, this is a staple of Bob Bob Ricard as opposed to us acting out wild Tuesday school night taking shots. The vodka went down nicely…all ten of them…again, I kid.
Go With: Everyone you know! It’s too beautiful not to. However, I also think this would be quite an apt des-res for a business dinner or colleague catch-up.
Where: 1 Upper James St, Soho, W1F 9DF, www.bobbobricard.com
Final Word: The saying less is more is applicable here. The new vegan menu isn’t extensive but the small selection of dishes have been curated to envelop vegan ingredients to put a spin on classic dishes.