I like veal. A lot. My mother used to make us veal fairly often when we were kids. Mostly veal parmigiana. But also sometimes in a more German/Austrian way, with buttered noodles. Veal is something that I reflect on occasionally and thnk, "Ah, now for veal. For veal, maybe I should cook."
I'll get there….eventually.
I had veal last Tuesday at Bob Bob Ricard in Soho. Veal Holstein. And it was excellent. (In my world, you can never have too much veal. Or anchovies. Or capers. Or secret sauce!) I love BBR for its veal, and for many of its other qualities. We talked about my love at dinner and when asked, "Yes but why?" here's what I came up with.
I had a fantastic time in St. Petersburg and Moscow in 1998 and was pleasantly surprised by the food that I had there. I had had images of old babushkas cackling over black cauldrons sputtering with shanks of unidentified meat. This was absolutely not the case. Instead, we traipsed from one pelmeni place to the next, stuffing ourselves full of dumplings and vodka or dumplings and Baltica or in our soberer moments, dumplings and chai. All thanks to my friend Kim who was teaching English in Russia at the time. (Local knowledge. Important! It brings me back to The awesomely awesome Leicester Square Challenge.) I like the idea of Russia food, all very hearty and cold-weather-like. Root vegetables. Cabbage. Offal. Pancakes. People normally look at me funny and laugh when I say this, much like I look at people (mostly American tourists) funny when they tell me that British food is terrible.
But it's true. Get to know Russian food through an expert, and it's quite enjoyable.
I also like that BBR is different. As much as I love "local, seasonal, sustainable" at any good gastropub, at this time of year, there's only so much asparagus and strawberries a gal can eat.
Many have critiqued BBR for its quirkiness. Its pink-jacketed waiters. Its over-the-topness. (Is it, as someone recently told me, London's most expensive restaurant build-out?)
But that's what I love about it. There is the champagne button. And I will press it. I can order vodka by the glass–straight–and no one will look at me funny. I can gorge myself on quails' eggs, as they seem to come with every dish. And apparently, according to Bob, if I decide to dump all my beluga caviar down the bathroom sink, no one will care. (Just like no one blinked an eye when my friend Brian smashed his rhubarb gin and tonic all over the restaurant the other month.)
Ah, and did I mention that they've capped their mark-ups on wine? This is nearly unheard of in this country and in this business!
Running a restaurant is hard work. And financial success is an elusive game. I know this second-hand through my investment in the Rose & Crown in Great Horkesley. So I give BBR a lot of credit for doing what they do and doing it with a smile and so well. Long may then continue. Now if only I could convince Leonid (aka Bob) to open up a pelmeni joint…
I paid £39.50 + service for this meal, along with many other London bloggers. I think this is another reason why I love BBR. This was not one of those, "Come review my restaurant and I will feed you for free" types of events. But rather it was a "Let's organize a very fun dinner for many bloggers at a reasonable price and I hope you will like it and if you write about it, well, that would be kind of you" type of thing. Leonid gets it. This is good.