Posted on Monday, 2nd August 2010
I liked the décor at Bob Bob Ricard, a self-billed deluxe diner. A throwback to 1930s glam, I adored the train carriage booth seating and the buttons which allowed you to call for the champagne. Nice! The marble columns and mosaic floor finish off the glamorous look.
But the décor was about all I liked about at the restaurant. My starter of scallop and shrimp pie, set in a scallop shell and topped with piped mash potato was beautifully presented. But the scallop was a bit fishy, suggesting that it wasn’t fresh. The accompanying cream sauce with mushrooms and shrimp was nice, although unpleasantly, there were bits of grit in it.
To the main courses, and it was with great regret that I ordered the lobster linguine. Initially nervous about whether it would live up to expectations, I figured that with its £27 price tag it had to be pretty decent. But as it turned out, I was wrong with a capital ‘W’.
So what was horrid about this dish? Firstly, the portion size was pretty small. If I hadn’t known that this was a main, I would have thought it was a starter. However, this was inconsequential in comparison to how little lobster there was. Let me just clarify that the menu specified that this dish was a ‘half lobster linguine’. Let me repeat, half a lobster. Therefore I was expecting half a lobster tail. After peeking under the empty lobster shell which served as garnish and rummaging through the dish, I discovered one claw and four tiny pieces of chopped lobster. When I questioned the waitress about whether there really was half a lobster on the plate, she ran away without so much as a word and sent the manager over (an admission of guilt perhaps?).
Our conversation was perplexing to say the least. The manager kept insisting that the dish contained half a lobster, and I kept questioning how this was possible. After some to-ing and fro-ing, he eventually changed his story to say that, in fact, there was only a quarter of a lobster’s worth of meat, and that the remaining quarter had gone to make the sauce. Pleasssse!!! To make matters worse, I cheekily sneaked a taste, and discovered that apart from the virtually non-existent shellfish, that the dish was also bland.
The stupidity of it all is that I actually believe the restaurant when they say that there was half a lobster in the dish – whether it be in the sauce or otherwise. This led me to surmise two things: (1) that the lobster was a midget and (2) that at £27, not only was I being ripped off, but I was being royally screwed over with a capital ‘S’.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t in the mood to pay £27 for nothing and so I refused to eat the linguine. More bantering back and forth ensued as the manager insisted that there was nothing that he would do for me, despite me expressing a certain amount of indignation at being ripped-off. After what felt like a lifetime, he eventually relented and begrudgingly took the plate away, but not before I added bad service to my list of gripes about this place.
I chose again and ordered the Chateaubriand for one, a 28 day aged Aberdeenshire Scotch Beef with Béarnaise sauce (£32.50). P was tucking into hers whilst I was having my ‘discussion’, and having tried hers and thought it alright, I decided that something I knew to be safe was the most appropriate option under the circumstances. Clearly seafood was best left alone given the state of the scallop and the lobster dishes. Her steak was under seasoned but cooked to the requested medium rare. My beef could have taken on more salt, although it was still better seasoned than hers. However it was cooked very rare rather than the requested medium rare. I ate it all the same as I didn’t have another ‘discussion’ left in me. The meat was quite tasty, as it should have been for £32.50. But clearly, there are some inconsistency issues in the kitchen.
The beef was served with a lovely piece of portobello mushroom that had been finished with a drizzling of butter, sweet roasted tomato and some crunchy watercress. The Béarnaise sauce was also nicely done and not too acidic. We also selected some truffled mashed potato (£5.50). A nice flavour of truffle permeated the mash, but its texture, instead of being light and fluffy, was quite heavy.
For dessert, a little layered lemon pot (£6.50), with its citrusy flavour, was sufficiently creamy even if it was a bit sour. It was accompanied by some sugar glazed puff pastry soldiers and fresh raspberries. The soldiers seemed superfluous to the dish, although the sweet raspberries were a nice touch.
I cannot recommend Bob Bob Ricard. From the not so fresh scallop, to the greedy pricing of the bland lobster linguine, to the poor service, there wasn’t anything endearing about this restaurant other than the decor. The menu also smacks of other money making touches. It is littered with suggestions for extras which cost an additional £1. Optional bread (which wasn’t particularly good) is also charged at a £1 per head. Yes, restaurants are businesses and need to make money. But there’s a fine line between making acceptable returns and trying to bleed your customers with average food. Maybe this is why on a Friday night Bob Bob Ricard was only half full, whereas Polpo across the road had lines of people queuing up outside for a table.
At this point, I would like to point out that yes, Bob Bob does offer cheaper mains than the ones we had. Some items are priced at around the £12 mark. I dug my own hole by going for the pricier items. But if you are going to order the expensive stuff, then you deserve to be served food which holds up to the price tag.
I am rarely so vocal in my dislike of a restaurant. But given the circumstances, Bob Bob Ricard rightly deserves my disdain. My suggestion – don’t go.