Bob Bob Ricard, so good they named it twice! Actually ‘Bob’ is the nickname of the Russian owner who owns two thirds of the business, hence the second Bob and Ricard is taken from the other owner’s name, Richard Howarth. It has been on my bucket list from day one of the blog. I have had drinks there before, a long time ago and I decided that instead of following the rest of the crowd on a January detox, I would spoil myself. What better way to start the new year than with total self-indulgence and I couldn’t think of a better place to do it. The healthy eating can wait….
The restaurant is styled on the Orient Express and walking in you are immediately transported into a bygone era where opulence and decadence rule supreme. The menu is full of luxurious ingredients from caviar and lobster to foie gras and truffles. I usually know long before I visit a restaurant what I (and usually The Better Half (TBH)) will be eating, but this menu reads so well that I had a really tough time choosing.
So in keeping with the luxurious theme, TBH and I decided to share the grilled oysters Mitterand that had been grilled with garlic and parsley butter (£20.00 for 6) as a little pre-starter. I’ve only had oysters a handful of times and it’s always been a couple pinched from a friends plate rather than my own order. I’ve never had warm oysters though and I was looking forward to trying them. They were plump and delicious little morsels full of garlic and parsley butter, we both mopped up the leftover butter with the bread we had ordered. My only wish was that I didn’t have to share the dish!
For our starters, I chose Cornish fish soup with sea bass, lobster and mussels served with cheese fritters (£9.50) and TBH ordered the pan-fried scallops, apple and black pudding served with smoked haddock pomme mousseline (£14.50). My soup was excellent. Packed with lobster, mussels and sea bass. It had a slight back note of aniseed, which is one of the flavours I don’t really like but it didn’t over power it and the strongest flavour was still that of the fish broth. The Better Half’s scallops were extremely well cooked and the black pudding added a nice earthiness to it, the apple brought a crunch and the pomme mousseline a beautiful richness. Perfectly balanced and delicious. He had a scallop dish on New Years Eve at another venue and this was just worlds apart!
I was in a fishy mood, so chose baked sole with champagne sauce stuffed with lobster on a bed of spinach (£28.50). Pretty decadent, huh? The sole was a gorgeous piece of fish in a rich, yet light sauce that I would’ve licked off the plate had I been alone in the privacy of my own home! Another dish that was perfectly balanced with every item on the plate working in harmony with the other. TBH and I shared mashed potato (£4.95). Creamy and smooth, I wish I was able to get my mash like that when I make it.
For his main, TBH had crispy suckling pork belly on red cabbage with apple purée and truffle gravy (£22.25). Total plate envy! I don’t think I’ve ever had crackling like it. Crispy without being too hard, the pork was full of flavour and the layers of fat in the belly had melted away to make the pork deliciously juicy. Red cabbage and apple was a great accompaniment and the truffle gravy brought it all together.
By this point we were both quite full, but TBH can’t resist dessert and especially the crack of the sugar on top of a creme brûlée. We decided to share the trio of creme brûlée – passionfruit, chocolate and Earl Grey tea (£7.50). My favourite was the chocolate while he preferred the tart passionfruit. The portion sizes for me were just right and a great ending to a really wonderful meal.
Service was efficient and professional. Much has been written about the ‘Press for champagne’ button that each booth has (did I mention that the restaurant is mostly booth seating? I LOVE booths!). I tested the button a few times and it worked a treat. Every time I pressed it, a waiter appeared to ask if I wanted champagne. It’s extremely novel and so much fun, I could definitely get myself into a whole heap of trouble with that button!
Our total bill including 2 beers, 3 glasses of champagne and service came to £186.69. I expected this meal to totally blow the budget and whilst it wasn’t cheap, it was totally worth it and a great way to get 2015 underway with a massive tick of my bucket list.
Until we eat again!