commiserate celebrate my 27th birthday – hello late twenties! – Ciaran surprised me with dinner at Bob Bob Ricard on Saturday night. The beef wellington at this decadent English/Russian restaurant has been calling my name for months so when he told me to meet him at Oxford Circus tube and then led me down Carnaby Street to the restaurant’s doorway I was beyond excited.
We were seated downstairs in the newly refurbished club room, which is decked out with luxury booths – each curtained off for privacy – red and gold leather banquettes, marble tables and a mahogany backgammon floor. Every table also comes equipped with the restaurant’s signature ‘press for champagne’ buttons. We were eager, yet nervous, to try this out – would they swiftly bring over a bottle of champagne that cost more than our salaries combined? Nevertheless, Ciaran couldn’t resist and sure enough, within no more than two seconds, an excitable waiter appeared: ‘You pressed for champagne?’ he grinned. I think he was a little disappointed when we simply ordered two glasses of the standard Brut! For us though it proved a fun and delicious way to kick off the evening.
The menu deliberation didn’t take too long as we quickly decided on our starters – truffled potato and mushroom vareniki for me, salmon tartare for him – and agreed to share the beef wellington for main. The starters were delicious but the real showstopper was the wellington. Presented pre-carved before being swept away to serve, it was an incredible combination of melt-in-your-mouth pink meat and crisp, yet light pastry. Greedily, we also polished off the sections the waitress had left on the cutting board – not sure if this was a faux pas! Combined with the creamy mashed potato and honey and thyme vegetables that we ordered to go with it, it was easily the best meal I’ve eaten for a while and the meat even knocked my beloved Hawksmoor off its pedestal.
Opting for a lighter pudding, I chose the milk ice cream with amaretto and almonds, which was a simple and refreshing way to conclude the meal, while Ciaran went all out with the signature chocolate glory. Another showstopper, the golden globe was presented intact before the waiter elegantly poured hot chocolate sauce atop it, making it melt away to reveal the indulgent combination of berries, jelly and chocolate brownie waiting inside. A final novelty that ensured the meal ended with as much grandeur as it began.
Dinner at Bob Bob Ricard isn’t cheap but it’s also not extortionate, making it the perfect spot for an utterly indulgent and theatrical treat. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate my birthday.
Tip: Be sure to book far in advance but also don’t fear early sittings. We were booked in for 5.30pm, at which time the restaurant still had a good atmosphere and we weren’t rushed out once our two-hour time slot came to an end.