Bob Bob Ricard, restaurant review: Are the good times still rolling at the tweaked Soho hang-out?

Bob Bob Ricard, 1 Upper James Street, London W1, Tel: 020 3145 1000. £140 for two, with drinks

A bloody Mary and a Martini – the most bog-standard of cocktails – are a good way of testing whether a bar/restaurant pays attention to detail. If the Martini is tepid, if the Bloody Mary is tomato juice has a tinny taste, it's safe to say corners are being cut.

So to be presented with a Bloody Mary that is the palest pink and almost clear is a bit of a show stopper. Goodness knows the process involved with that. And what about that Martini with a plump, perfect oyster, still in its shell, breaking the surface of the booze?

The cocktails at Bob Bob Ricard say "we try harder". This Soho restaurant has become the answer, among some of the foodie posse, when asked, "Where shall we eat tonight?". It can be relied upon, I'm told, for good times.

I've been told this but I've never actually been in the five years that it's been open. There are lots of scene-y places in Soho, after all, and guff like "elegant" dress code and a button at every table to summon champagne leave me, well, tepid. But I keep hearing how reliably "good times" it is, and am attracted to the idea of visiting places that are neither old-school classics nor buzzing and new – once the sheen of novelty has worn off, do they still deliver?

The menu at launch was daft (Ribena in milk, jellies), it served Kellogg's Corn Flakes at breakfast and it stayed open till 3am. Now the hours are lunch and dinner and the menu looks a little more restrained.

I've moseyed in in Converse sneakers and a day-two hairdo, having forgotten all about the dress code, but the staff couldn't be nicer. They are as sweet as their dusky-pink uniforms and – hello mama – the tables are all booths. This makes me so happy I could squeal. I LOVE a booth; everyone feels comfy and (sorry to be sexist but these things are important) there's somewhere to put your handbag that isn't the floor. Less aesthetically pleasing, but a terrific nod to our modern ways, a plug socket at every table for those iPhone-battery angsters.

The décor: well, imagine you've travelled to Jay Gatsby's party in an oligarch's yacht with a dotcom billionaire. You get the idea. Where angsters meet gangsters, if you like…

Gosh but those cocktails are good. A salty tang on a Martini is not for everyone, but I think it's a pretty brisk sharpener before a meal. The paley Mary is delicious, with all the punch and savoury joy you'd expect. There's expertly judged seasoning.

But can the food reach the same heights or is this fur-coat-and-no-knickers syndrome? The Martini weighs in at £16.50 (creating as big a gulp as when the oyster went down), so is Bob Bob Ricard a rich person's playground, where pouty girls push undressed salad round a plate while their dates wash down wagyu steak with Diet Coke? (Rather brilliantly, my identirich neighbours are trying to do just that, but the lovely maître d' explains they don't serve Coke. They have Fentiman's instead. It tells me the restaurant cares as much about soft drinks as hard ones; taste is all.)

The prices are not for everyday, that's for sure, but neither is the food. The insanely flattering lighting, the cocktails that bring forth oohs and aahs, that champagne-summoning button – it's all a big old treat, well matched by dishes made with flair and generosity. If you're paying £22.50 for lobster mac and cheese, it wants plenty of the shellfish. Here you get more than enough.

A three-cheese soufflé is stratospheric and uncommonly potent (£8.50). Only slightly dry black pudding with the scallops and pea purée disappoints. (Has chef been on MasterChef? I doubt it.) A dinky pink box of lovely crisp fries accompanies supersized lemon-sole goujons – which they should be for £23.50.

We share an Eton Mess En Perle, which makes us giggle as it's a globe of meringue with raspberry sauce poured over. It's all gloriously gooey, another pink flourish in a rosy night out.

This – steaks, caviar, lobster – is comfort food for millionaires. It has plenty of Russian dishes for today's most prevalent high-end diner but, unlike other showy places where civilians get the Siberia treatment, this is warm and welcoming. You'll need to save up, but Bob Bob Ricard is now a place I'd recommend.

8/10

Bob Bob Ricard, 1 Upper James Street, London W1, Tel: 020 3145 1000. £140 for two, with drinks

For more foodie notes from the past week

La Pâtisserie des Rêves

Astonishingly good (if expensive) cakes and pastries in Marylebone, and now they've gone and improved Victoria sponge and carrot cake with a French twist.

School of Wok

Still going strong after a few years. The classic sweet'n'sour chicken and egg-fried rice recipes I learnt at an evening class have become a family favourite.

Tarte tatin

Made one for Mother's Day, but had run out of calvados so I used the British aperitif Kamm & Sons instead. Worked a treat (although drinking it is also nice!).

A Visual History of Cookery

This lovely book, like a box of chocolates, is irresistible. I keep dipping in and finding gems of information and vintage food photography.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf