Bob Bob Ricard
1-3 Upper James Street
London W1F 9DF
Date of Last Visit: Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The Victim: Me
The Damage: £50
The Background: Somehow, I don’t really feel the need to write this post. Because you know, my blogging comrade Chris Pople has said it all very beautifully right over here. (Favorite line: “The pickled herring and boiled potato was as good as I barely remember…” which is actually a compliment. You must read the whole post for context.)
But just like those people who throw that 12-bullet-point-PowerPoint slide up there and say, “I’m not going to read you all 12 points on this slide”–and then proceed to do exactly that–I am going to write this post. I am going to attempt–perhaps in vain–to communicate the depth (depths?) of my new-found love for the quirky goldenness of Soho’s Russian pleasure-palace, where the vodka is cold, the gin comes with rhubarb, and there can never be too much champagne.
Ah, herring! When I think herring, I am reminded of my Irish-American father, standing in the darkened kitchen with the refrigerator door open, fork in one hand, jar of herring and mayonnaise in the other. This is not an all-together pretty memory, but it’s a memory nonetheless. MY memory.
But at Bob Bob Ricard, the herring is not served in a jar, and there’s no mayo in sight. The fillets are FAT. Really plump. Salty and savory and served cold, this is the best herring I’ve ever had. (And having met my fair share of Swedish exchange students and their herring and knäckebröd, that’s saying a lot.) There’s a perfectly soft-boiled quail’s egg there, and a salad of beetroot and apple that I think about for days afterwords. (Beetroot! Beetroot which I have hated with a passion for nearly all of my life.) I think Bob Bob Ricard had ruined me for herring (and beetroot) forever.
And then there’s the crabcake. A dense, dense, all crab crabcake, served with another quail’s egg (sunny side up, this time). No potato filler anywhere to be seen. And it seems to be, to my untrained palate, all brown meat. Lush.
And then besides for the CHAMPAGNE BUTTON, there are the other things that people don’t tell you about. The butter is stamped with the BBR logo. There are coat racks built into the booths. (Perfect for neurotic New Yorkers like me who are always convinced someone is going to steal their Oyster Card.) There are booths for one. For one! (I have stolen a booth for four, myself.) Champagne is delivered within 90 seconds of me pressing the champagne button. (Although staff later admit that some nights, all the champagne buttons light up all at once and it can be hard to keep up.)
Downstairs, the floor is a backgammon board. There’s a chair that says Bob. And another that says Ricard. Upstairs, there is wallpaper (or is that carpet?) on the ceiling. The staff are all in deliciously delicious pink jackets. I’m thrown back to the Greek diners on Long Island, where the waiters wore tuxedos in the old days and called all us girls Miss as we downed our strawberry milkshakes and fries.
I inquire about wireless access.
It’s coming soon, they promise.
This is good, because I might just be moving in.
The Verdict: They’re open 13 hours a day. Surely, you can find some time to drop by. Look for me. I might be there. But I might also try to get out of paying the 50p surcharge for bread. 50p! WTF?