For the long term – years, in truth – Bob Bob Cité sat on my “It’ll never take place” list, along with side other planned restaurants too impossible to exist. Every time it slipped down the schedule, after but more delays to this £25m refit, I had a hint of the Statler and Waldorfs.
Owner Leonid Shutov planned to enlist level 3 of the £225m Leadenhall Building – or the Cheesegrater as it’s miles unaffectionately referred to as by Londoners who powerlessly acquiesce to those cute nicknames for hideous skyscrapers. Shutov would create a larger, better, kookier, mid-air model of his firstborn, Soho’s Bob Bob Ricard.
It’s worth noting that the unique, classic Bob Bob seems like a fictitious, Kardashian-elegance Trans-Siberian Express eating carriage envisaged by way of Tim Robbins. It is a dark, glamorous, wilfully daft caviar-and-chook-pie palace. “Press for champagne” tempts a button at every booth; and, as gimmicks cross, that one has never were given antique.
The all-new, reimagined Bob Bob could feature, we’d heard, rare Japanese bookbinding paper at the partitions, same twin private eating rooms – one in crimson and one in blue; 1888 Baron de Sigognac Armagnac on the menu at £830 a pour, and forty eight,000 uncommon imported wall bolts pinning the complete hot mess together. You may want to still press for champagne; however now your wide table variety could flicker on a ticker-tape neon tune jogging around the partitions. The particularly respected chef Eric Chavot joined the challenge and stayed placed, in spite of Bob Bob Cité feeling, at instances, as impending as a Morrissey and Marr reunion or a brand new George RR Martin launch date.
But I have eaten those words – with a facet of escargot en persillade. Bob Bob Cité is open and, love it or detest it; you can not in all likelihood forget about it. It is large, eccentric, steeply-priced and vivid – oh so very vibrant, like having dinner at the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. I ate two times right here in a single week, lingering on each occasion for multiple hours, chipping away at Chavot’s international-elegance, robust onion soup with baguette et beurre d’Isigny, or demolishing the extraordinary, albeit extravagant, lemon meringue tart. Because, inside the privateness of a Bob Bob Cité sales space, with such right provider and the actual global so very some distance below, there’s a degree of escapism that is seductive. Restaurant World is on shaky ground in 2019, however at Bob Bob Cité it’s 1997: London is swinging, cash is flowing; permit all have a round of -18 diploma Imperia vodka shots in tiny fancy glasses and stay out until one of us is pregnant with the aid of a Gallagher brother.
I have to strain that Bob Bob Cité is more than a triumph of posh hand cleaning soap, imported lampshades, and over-delicious meals. What Shutov’s strange dreamscape needed was a base of healthy French cooking, and even though Chavot’s fantastically brief menu is rife with Gallic glamour, you’ll be fed. You won’t depart hungry – bankrupt, perhaps, but now not hungry.
There are oysters gratinée teamed with black truffle hollandaise and an amazing, sparkling salade de tomato with silverskin anchovies. There’s a small, fats bowl of Scottish rump beef steak tartare with soft-boiled quail’s egg and, from “fewer grillades,” a ribeye steak with shallots at £32 and lobster thermidor at £forty eight.50. Perhaps the exceptional factor on the menu is the distinctly simple grilled sea bream; its skin rubbed with lemon and saffron, that comes served with roasted cherry tomatoes – a snip at a mere £35.
The language of Bob Bob Cité’s menu is a type of eating place Esperanto: thick slices of smoked salmon on an elaborate, caviar-strewn potato salad are “chunky salmon fumé” – notwithstanding that sounding like something deluxe one would possibly purchase in Aldi for a cat. The vegetable pie has been sent to Siberia, returned to London thru Paris, and is now on the menu as “Le ‘Pie’ du Maraîcher.” It is a delicate, flat, delicious, prettily embossed, coronary heart-valve-clogging dish of Jerusalem artichoke and king oyster mushrooms in a sea-inexperienced champagne and truffle velouté.
“I am eating a small mushroom pie for £21.50, and it doesn’t even have a pastry bottom. The chips are an additional seven kilos,” I text to my brother as an act of wilful and ongoing north/south provocation. “Absolute robbing bastards,” he replies, as is general, consuming a Ginsters Piri Piri Slice in a layby. “You understand not anything approximately great dining,” I respond, airily.