6 Jan 2011
Continuing on from my previous post I bring you a few more culinary highlights from 2010:
After looking for an impromptu place for dinner after work on a Friday night we went for a wander around Soho and stumbled across Bob Bob Ricard. The exterior being relatively nondescript, it was not a restaurant I’d previously taken much notice of and often walked past it during my work lunch breaks. However after reading about their rather indulgent sounding caviar and vodka lunch special on Londonist a week or so earlier, my interest was piqued.
So in we went and rather curiously I found myself suddenly transported back to the glamour and decadence of the pre-stock market crash 30s. The waiting staff wore carnation pink uniforms and the décor was lavish with desk lamps and “Press for Champagne” buttons adorning every booth. The luxurious quirkiness of the place was a very pleasant surprise.
Having a soft spot for dumplings I ordered the truffled potato and mushroom vareniki which was served with sour cream and crispy onion rings (which I also a soft spot for). These were delicious and very well made. My dining partner ordered the “Old Bay” crispy chicken which was also delicious – I loved the tomato sauce it was served with.
Alas we lacked the willpower to resist many of the options on the menu so we also ended up ordering some Zakuski (Russian hors d’oeuvres): homecured Russian herring with boiled potatoes and quails egg mayonnaise with anchovies with a couple of vodka shots on the side: Russian Standard Imperia and Bob’s Homemade Zubrowka. And of course we also had to have some dessert and shared a Trio of Creme Brulee: Passionfruit, Raspberry, Pistachio – the passionfruit outshone the other flavours.
We had a very enjoyable time there though we ended up spending much more than intended (considering we only wanted a quick bite), racking up the bill to well over £100 for 2 with wine and service. Whoops!
Bob Bob Ricard
1 Upper James Street
I’d previously avoided Polpo after reading a poor review regarding small servings and high prices but it soon became clear to me that this was obviously a mistake. My mind began to change after increasingly hearing more favourable reviews and that they were opening a sister restaurant also in Soho called Polpetto. We had attempted to visit on the night we visited Bob Bob Ricard but the queue to get in was overwhelming. So when I was treated to lunch (the only time they allow reservations) on a weekday I jumped at the chance.
Polpo serve Venetian style small plates and we ordered a few of these to share – all were amazing! In particular I adored the cuttlefish and squid ink risotto, and the steak in truffle cream. Such gorgeous, mouth watering flavours. The bill came to about £25 per person including wine, dessert and coffee which I thought was great value for a rather decadent lunch. Can’t wait to return!
41 Beak Street
What a day it was for eating, but not so much for photo taking! After a brilliant lunch at Polpo, I wasn’t expecting much for Dans le Noir? in the evening. This restaurant is known for its pitch black dining, that is all meals being served in the dark. Blind waiters lead you to your table and look after you.
I ordered the 2 course surprise menu which at £40 I felt was quite expensive. Not the greatest meal I’ve ever had but an interesting and amusing experience trying to distinguish what and where everything was!
After a couple of unsuccessful stabs at my plate with a fork, I found myself quickly doing away with my cutlery and using my fingers. I was hugely disappointed to find how much my palate struggled to distinguish what I was eating. I could determine some kind of red meat but I couldn’t tell what it was. I felt a bit better when I came out and it was revealed that I’d been eating zebra, kangaroo and crocodile – not meats that I was at all familiar with! However the seafood starter I got completely wrong. How much about eating is in the presentation? I still don’t know but I’d quite like to test my taste buds one more time… perhaps with a cheaper blind taste test set up with friends!
In the end it all got a bit silly as we attempted to sample each others dishes, feeding each other with our fingers, struggling to locate open mouths! And then there was the tickling… oh god the tickling! My squeamishness was much taken advantage of in the most unexpected moments and in the dark. All in all, a fun night out.
Dans le Noir?
30-31 Clerkenwell Green
What a lucky girl I was to be treated to a birthday meal at Richard Corrigan’s Soho restaurant Bentleys Oyster Bar and Grill. Being the seafood freak that I am, it was heavenly! The Lobster Bisque in particular had me in utter rapture.
11-15 Swallow Street
Remaining on the theme of birthday treats my friends surprised me with an amazing Seafood BBQ. After dragging themselves out of bed at 4am on a Saturday morning, they drove down to the Billingsgate Fish Markets in Canary Wharf to stock up on fresh supplies before heading home to prepare all the lovely seafood they had purchased. This also involved their first ever attempt at humanely killing live, squirming crabs in order to cook my all time favourite dish Singapore Chilli Crab. They also went to the trouble to make my favourite cake… black forest! Alas I didn’t get a photo of that but how lucky am I to have such awesome friends?!
The 3rd and final post in the My Year of Food 2010 series to come next!