Really like the sound of this place Raistlyn, everything sounds up my alley!
Reserve your table at Bar Boulud Book a table
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
- Hyde Park Corner Station (<0.1 km)
- Knightsbridge Tube Station (0.1 km)
- Contact us:
020 7201 3899
10 reviews of Bar Boulud in English
Bar Boulud can be found in the depths of the Mandarin Oriental, opposite Harvey Nics (perfect pit-stop during the sales). This is a smart (posh jeans-friendly) French with a New York edge buzzy bar/dining room. Highlights are the perfectly porky piggy burger and a rather sumptuous, smooth coq au vin (£17.50 and worth it), although, there is a dazzling range of equally tempting dishes on the menu. Bar Boulud has a surprisingly relaxed vibe in a very poncey postcode.
Went to Bar Boulud to check out the lamb burger specially created for their one year anniversary. I'd been meaning to go to BB for a while, but never quite managed to find the time. This time around, the fact that the lamb burger was only going to be around for a week enticed me to come down, even though I was not able to find a dining companion at such short notice.
Despite the fact that I was on my own and a small eater, the service I received was impeccable. Batiste, my waiter, introduced the special (the lamb burger) right after handing me the menu and helped me choose a nice wine to go with it. I also asked whether I needed to order a side to go with my burger order, and he said, no, as he thought the burger was quite 'significant' in size. I'd read a couple of reviews that said the burgers were a little on the small side but as Batiste mentioned that the kitchen could turn out sides in double-quick time if I thought the burger wasn't big enough, decided to just go with the burger.
And a good thing I did! I'll just say that the burger didn't look that big, but I had to take a break midway because I was getting really full! The lamb was good, not gamey, while the chickpea fries were a delightful surprise.
I really wanted to give the desserts a go, but, as you might have guessed, that simply wasn't possible. Contrary to popular belief, sometimes, there simply isn't space for dessert.
I mentioned it earlier but I simply need to mention it again. The service is incredible. The staff checked on me several times during the course of my meal, but not too many times as to make me uncomfortable. My water glass was topped up almost the instant it was emptied, and my dishes were cleared in an efficient manner. Batiste was also friendly and smiley to all of the tables he served at all times.
I'll have to come back another time to try out the regular burgers. I strongly suspect I'll enjoy the Piggie Burger given my love of all things pork. But, first, I'll need several weeks of gym visits, and a friend to eat here with so that we can order more food!
Anne Hunt, 9 May 2011:
raistlyn, 10 May 2011:
Thanks! It's a great place and I forgot to mention that while it wasn't brightly lit, it was still bright enough for me to read a book, so as to have something to do while all by myself.
Also, my waiter thought I was staying at the hotel because I was by myself, but when he found out I live in London, he bade me goodbye with a "hope to see you again soon!" which is a nice touch.
Anne Hunt, 10 May 2011:
Very much so. It's always the small things that mean the most and quite frankly, make you come back for more.
I have been at Bar Boulud several times, the consistency and quality of each dish in the menu is outstanding. Bar Boulud has excellent service and the ambience of the restaurant is always rocking, and best part is that the staff working there actually look happy doing their jobs, which always is very welcoming and make you feel relaxed! I have to say the burgers are really worth to go for, but I most admit the desserts have really won me over.
6 Rock Oysters – £12.00 (accompanied by brown bread with seaweed butter, shallot vinaigrette, sauce ‘américaine’, lemon )
The plump juicy oysters were served on ice in a raised platter and shucked well enough to be nearly overflowing with briny juice. The homemade seaweed butter was a thoughtful addition but did not come close to the same from god of butter, Jean-Yves Bordier. Their sauce américaine had much more bite and spice than any Heinz replica, a meaty substitute for Tabasco.
Frenchie Burger – £13.75 (includes chips)
This is a burger with confit pork belly, rocket tomato-onion compote and Morbier cheese served on a peppered brioche bun. The bun was delicious and a soft peppery pillow for some serious ingredients. The burger was huge and heavy with meaty flavour thanks to the additional porky belly, the nutty Morbier and jammy compote lifting the meat with some huge hits of flavour. There was some additional french mustard in here somewhere which was not listed in the menu. The chips were good, just good, skinny and lots of them but scoring a 6/10.
Piggie Burger – £13.75 (includes chips)
This burger is served in a Cheddar bun with bbq pulled pork, Bibb lettuce, green chili mayonnaise and red cabbage slaw. The cheese on the bun was strong and gave a great pungent bite to the beautifully soft pork and then the firm burger. The lettuce, mayo and slaw added softness, heat and crunch so there was lots going on in every mouthful. The pulled pork was so good we would have easily eaten a whole plate of this smothered over the 6/10 chips.
Soufflé au citron – £9.50
A super light lemon soufflé was served with a jug of spiced sugar poire william and vanilla coulis. A bit pricey but was nice enough.
Île exotique – £8.00
This dessert was amazing, the lime floating island was filled with a mango crémeux and sat on a coconut anglaise. Dotted around the plate were tiny bites of spiced pineapple, pomegranite and basil leaves and little bit of everything on the spoon was divine, it was a random choice but worth the it.
1 glass of Nittnaus Pinot Noir ‘Kurzberg’, Burgenland, Austria (2007) – £8.50
1 Sierra Nevada pale ale – £4.75
2 Peppermint teas – £9.00 (they used fresh peppermint but still expensive for water and leaves)
We ate at 6.30pm on a Saturday and there was a great atmosphere with a busy mix of tables, banquets and booths of dates, family meals, groups of friends and single diners. The open kitchen is exciting and honest and adds to the buzz of the diners and staff. Very attentive service keeps you looked after and there is reasonable 2hr 15mins turnaround in place. Plus, as in all good hotels, toilets are clean and attended.
Three course set menu meal for £20 served seven days between 12pm-2.30pm and 5.30pm- 7pm
We will definitely go back to Bar Boulud. The burgers were ordered medium-rare but were served medium so in future we’ll ask for rare. The set menu looked excellent value and the location is perfect for popping in when shopping around Knightsbridge. Always book, we saw lots of people being turned away.
Had a girly Friday evening at Bar Boulud. Located in the heart of Knightsbridge with its own private entrance at ground level of the prestigious Mandarin Oriental hotel, it's as one would expect, very classy bar/restaurant. I arrived at about 8pm, and there was a nice atmosphere, not too overly crowded, we all managed to get seats at the bar. Dress-wise, there was a mix of people in suits to those more casually dressed. I came smart/casual - skinny jeans and high heels, but my friends braved the cold in their little black dresses. It's a really nice place to catch up with friends or go out on a date, and conveniently moments from Knightsbridge underground station. Would like to go back and try the food next time...
For full review and pictures see
Finally I have made it to Bar Boulud, next to Knightsbridge tube station located in the ground floor of the exceedingly posh Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Bar Boulud has been written up to death (e.g. MarinaMetro, AA Gil, Jay Rayner, and a myriad of bloggers) so I will keep myself short.
The owner and chef, Daniel Boulud, is a successful restaurateur in New York where he doesn’t only have a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars (‘Daniel’) but is also famous for his up-market burgers .
For me – coming from Austria – burgers did not exist until I moved to England apart from in the form of McDonalds hamburgers. It took me quite a while to get my head around the fact that a burger should be taken seriously and can be truly delicious. So the burger slowly made its way from being my favourite hangover food to actually being eaten for real enjoyment even without prior alcohol exposure.
Anyway, what I want to say is that my burger experience is limited and I am far from being a burger expert – so I approached Bar Boulud and its famous burgers (which I of course had to try) with a relatively unbiased attitude but with high expectations.
For Knightsbridge and for being in the Mandarin Oriental I thought the atmosphere at Bar Boulud was rather pleasant and it was frequented by a mixed crowd. It was Wednesday evening and very busy – we only got a table in the bar area (with stylish but hugely uncomfortable chairs). In fact it was so busy that we were more or less ignored by the waiters for the first part of the evening. Later on service picked up however and the waiters were friendly and seemed to be doing their best.
I started with the beetroot salad with goat’s cheese and walnut (8). I was not terribly impressed actually. Everything, even though tasty, was slightly underseasoned and especially the salad leaves could have done with some kind of dressing.
Then of course the DBGB Yankee burger (12 + 1 for cheese). Maybe I expected something like an orgasmic burger experience (which might be too much to ask from pour Daniel Boulud) but somehow the burger failed to induce any culinary arousal. Don’t get me wrong, it was quite nice. The meat was extremely high quality and perfectly medium rare as requested. It was however bordering on cold when served and in the end it was just a not very exciting burger and I was a bit disappointed.
For full article, please see: http://wp.me/pwXBH-Pk
BAR BOULUD - THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME
I didn’t know what to expect from Daniel Boulud’s first UK outpost. Reviews upon its opening came in thick and fast. Most of the sentiment was positive, though some commented that its interior was devoid of personality. For my part, seated in the bar area on a weekday evening, the place seemed quite lively (this was probably enhanced by the animated and captivating sommelier, who was our unofficial host for the evening) and had a nice buzz to it. The food was generally very good (though desserts were somewhat of a disappointment), the charcuterie was nothing short of spectacular, and the restaurant is not as expensive as you might think. It’s a good addition to the neighbourhood and is a clever move from the prolific and successful Franco-American restaurateur...especially given that Heston will be serving ‘Dinner’ very soon in the same building.
BAR FOOD AT BAR BOULUD
Food blogging is a peculiar pursuit. You often get invited to events, you sometimes go, and once in a while they are really great. This was one such occasion. I met Heather Cowper at a rather random event hosted by lastminute.com a few months back. This was interesting because she is not a food blogger, but a travel blogger – another obscure species – and I had never met one before (I had seen them in cages, though). We had a nice chat and, somehow, I must have not come off as a complete bore and/or tosser.
How do I know this? Because when she organized a meal at Bar Boulud (BB) at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park (MO) for a table of bloggers (Krista and Gourmet Chick were also in attendance), she for some inexplicable reason decided to invite yours truly. Laissez fare enough. Pardon the appalling pun-itive damage (gag), but I am stuck in an airport and my plane is more than three hours delayed and ain’t leaving until midnight at the earliest. So there.
Anyway, back to the task at hand. The big DB and his BB (there are, as of yet, no plans for a BB’s Little Brother). From my experiences of his establishments in New York over the years, I like the guy, his food and the way he has his restaurants run. His flagship restaurant has always served excellent food, if a bit safe, and his less formal offshoots are generally very solid as well (check out a great review from Ulterior Epicure of a recent meal at Café Boulud).
For New Yorkers in particular, and to some degree throughout the US, DB has a big profile – á la GR (apt acronym?) in the UK. Along with Danny Meyer, Keith McNally and a few others, he’s definitely one of the big players on the Manhattan restaurant scene. So it’s interesting that he’s decided to give London a shot, especially when so many NY transplants have bombed so quickly.
BB has its own entrance on the left side of the MO, if you’re facing the building. It’s fairly nondescript, so if you didn’t know about it and weren’t a hotel guest, you’d probably just keep walking, despite the doorman decked out in a black suit.
I managed to find it easily enough and, as usual, arrived a bit early, so took a stroll through Harvey Nichol’s fifth floor of food and drink (well, I just hung out in the wine department and contemplated their exceedingly good range of Champagne). I just barely managed to get out of there without purchasing anything.
Upon entering BB, I wasn’t exactly sure who else I’d be dining with, but was lead to a rectangular raised table in the bar area, which afforded me a good view of the front dining room. There were two other bloggers already there who I didn’t know (Anthony, who runs the very cool Mr & Mrs Smith travel blog and Eva), making me fashionably not first one to arrive.
Before moving on, I would like to clear up one inaccuracy that I’ve noticed in reports about the restaurant. There are windows, and they do provide some natural light – granted this is only in the front of the dining room, but they are there. So there.
Before I knew what had hit me, David Vareille, the restaurant’s sommelier had taken the stage at the head of our table and began regaling us with entertaining tales about the fermented grape juice he was bursting to tell us about. This guy is a treasure. He is outspoken, very knowledgeable and definitely beats to the tune of his own drum. There are some real gems within his cellar’s booty, and we were lucky enough to taste a few of them, many of which won’t set you back all that much.
Another great feature of BB is that they feature a large bottle of the day, every day. David picks a magnum (or other large format bottle) that he thinks is interesting for whatever reason and then comes up with a very reasonable price per glass, so that customers can experience a wine they may not otherwise be able to try. For example, if he opened up a Mouton or a Lafite, you might be able to sample a glass for around £45-55 (depending on the vintage), which although still ridiculously expensive, is reasonable within the context of this royal couple of the wine world. It’s worth popping down just to see what the large bottle of the day is. I think he should start a twitter account and announce what large bottle they will be serving that day and name the price.
But once again I digress. We were there to eat some food, right?
A MEETING OF MEATS
As I’ve already written a lengthy preamble – hey, what else is new – I will be sparse with my culinary comments. You may think this is a deliberate choice, but the reality is that I had a bit too much of David’s wines, didn’t take notes, and that my detailed recollection of everything is slightly patchy at best. So I am sparing you from my usual more anatomical dissections. Everyone can drink to that.
Okay, so if you don’t read another sentence after this, pay attention to this one. We were able to sample all of their charcuterie…and it is phenomenal – I would recommend going alone just for this if you’re in the mood for that kind of thing.
All of the chartcuterie is courtesy of Gilles Verot, who (from memory) supplies DB’s establishments on the other side of the pond, so you don’t need much more background than that. Of particular note for me were the Tourte au Canard (duck, foie gras, figs and pastry crust), Pâté Grand-Père (coarse country pâté, foie gras, truffle juice and port), Lapin de Garrigue (Provençal pulled rabbit, carrot, courgette and herbs) and the Jambon de Bayonne (Basque cured ham).
A plate with a variety of vegetables, olive oil-marinated cod, shrimp and aioli dipping sauce was also brought out, and while the sauce was nice, I don’t think I would have paid the £18 for this platter. Strangely enough, the thing I enjoyed most on the plate was the exceedingly fresh and crunchy radishes.
I had read rave reviews of the boudin blanc sausages. They were rich, due to the infusion of truffles, and soft, but they didn’t hold much interest for me. Not bad by any means, just not a personal favorite. The accompanying mash was pretty good.
I actually enjoyed the pork-filled Thai sausages a bit more. They had a firm texture, sort of like a Swedish frank, and were accompanied by a nice spicy sauce and Asian garnishing with papaya on the side – they went down a treat.
The darker boudin noir sausages were rich, but not too rich for my blood (another bad pun, as they are made from blood and pig’s head), and were complemented by scallion potato and piment d’espelette. They would make a nice big appetizer or a smallish main course, and would probably leave you quite content with life.
There has been a lot of hype about BBBs (last B = burgers, keep up already). We were lucky enough to have a sampling of all three. This meant that they cut each burger up into quarters, so we could mix and match. The disadvantage of this was that they got a little bit cold, but I wasn’t complaining. They were all cooked well (medium rare) and had brioche-type buns (the ‘Frenchie’ bun was slightly peppered and the ‘Piggie’ bun had cheddar baked in). As Krista pointed out, though, none of them were toasted, nearly a cardinal sin for some burger aficionados.
The quality of the meat, and the rest of the fillings, was excellent and I enjoyed them all. They didn’t get me particularly excited, but they were some of the better ones (top three) I’ve sampled in London. Out of the three variations, I enjoyed the ‘Yankee’ the best (it’s the plain one, and I usually like my burgers fairly unadorned) and the ‘Frenchie’ (my wife is French, but that’s not why – I particularly enjoyed the green chilli mayonnaise and BBQ pulled pork).
Loup de Mer au Citron Confit
Better still was the main course of lemon sea bass which we shared. I only had a few bites, but the skill of the kitchen was obvious here. The fish was very fresh, had been cooked perfectly, with a crispy golden exterior, and kept moist and flaky inside. I loved the accompaniments as well. This was a simple but fairly flawless dish.
I didn’t take a clear photo of it (so no image), but we also sampled the Chop-Chop Salad, an homage to New York I suppose, which was quite refreshing given all the meat resting in our belabored stomachs by that point. It was actually a really enjoyable salad and it’s available at lunchtime for £6.50, though if you want to put a half lobster in it – which I thought was totally unnecessary and counterintuitive as lobster is a luxury ingredient and salad ain’t, right? – that will cost you an extra £15!
Unfortunately, many of the desserts were a disappointment, a shame as they all sounded (and looked ) so good too. The chocolate and raspberry cake was perfectly passable, and was certainly nicely presented, but it lacked that certain je ne sais quoi. No X Factor, so maybe it should audition for Gâteau’s Got Talent.
The humble Basque cake was also fine, and a pretty honest rendition of the classic dessert from the region. I guess these kind of simple cakes are not really my thing, so while it was good (not overly dry and plenty of flavour), it didn’t send my pulse racing.
The chocolate mocha tart was better, with a deep rich chocolate flavor and a luscious sphere of caramel ice cream plopped down beside it.
The Coupe de Fruits Exotiques was as pretty as a picture, and was a refreshing taste after the aforementioned tartage. Again, nothing earth-shattering, but the mascarpone foam and the coconut-passion fruit sorbet were both enjoyable.
Possibly the best of the bunch was the classic French dessert of Íle Flottante. It was pretty perfect, and nearly as nice as the one I had at Arbutus a while back (which, by the way, is currently the banner image at the top of this blog), though it did lack the crunch factor that makes the latter one so memorable. Anyway, BB’s version had air-light meringue and the crème anglaise and strawberries were the perfect foil. It was very moreish.
The biggest let-down of the evening for me, however, was the chocolate mint dessert. Pourquoi? Because, despite my love for fine cuisine, I simply adore mint chocolate chip ice cream – it’s a childhood thing – and always order it if it’s on the list and doesn’t look too fake a shade of green. I pretty much love anything that has chocolate and mint together (Aqua Fresh, you listening?). I don’t know why, but this just tasted wrong. Something in the mint smacked of artificiality. I would doubt that they use any dodgy ingredients at BB, but it just let me down…so I went back to my work as producer of Lost, i.e. I made that floating island disappear.
UNLOVED REGIONS, LOVELY WINES
David walked us through some brilliant regional French wines over the course of the evening, selecting particular bottles to go with the different courses. He is particularly partial to Burgundy as he hails from near Chablis (coincidentally one of my favorite wine regions).
2006 Domaine Sylvain Loichet, Ladoix
My favorite wine of the evening came from the Southern end of the Côte de Nuits in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or. It was a stow-shopper, especially when considering the price when compared to some of the fine white Burgundy that it might be mistaken for during a blind tasting. A complex, exotic and highly perfumed nose of apple, peaches, pears and subtle smokiness revealed a superbly balanced and full-bodied behemoth of soft fruitiness, honey, cream, a touch of spice and a vibrant streak of minerality. This was wonderful stuff, and while not cheap at £15.50 a glass at BB, you can get a bottle at under £25 retail. Highly recommended.
2006 Domaine Didier Charavin, Rasteau (Prestíge)
Many people have probably not heard of the area around Rasteau in South-eastern France (the Provence-Alpes-Côte- d’Azur region)…either had I…but this wine will make you stand up and take notice. The Charavin family are well-known in the region and Didier took over the domain in 1985. They make three cuvées and the Prestíge draws upon Syrah (30-40%) and old vine Grenache for the rest, being aged for 6-9 months in demi-muids. It is certainly a full-on wine, similar in many ways to a powerful Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and it needs a strong dish to bring out its best. A melange of gamey notes, lots of dark fruit, and maybe a bit of leather, it was very round and hugely satisfying. Not one to sip on its own, but when paired with a hearty stew or meaty dish, it is a special wine. It goes for £32.50 a bottle at BB, but I’d be surprised if it cost much more than £15-17 retail (if you can find it).
2009 Domaine Les Yeuses (Vin De Pays d’Oc, France), Vermentino & 2008 Salomon Undhof (Hochterrassen, Austria), Grüner Veltliner
Toward the end of the meal, a pair of whites emerged. The charming Vermentino was a good example of the grape, and produced baskets of exotic fruits and bouquets of fresh flowers in my mind. I had a few glasses of that, and found it more intriguing than the perfectly acceptable but not particularly memorable Grüner pictured above.
As a side note, another wine I really enjoyed during the meal, but forgot to photograph, was the 2007 Benoit Cantin from Irancy in France, which was crafted from 100% Pinot Noir. I have had a few other Pinots from the same appellation and not been overly impressed, but this was a beauty. A somewhat typical nose of cherries and berries, what sticks out in my mind was the elegant and soft tannins and the depth of the cherry flavour. It had a nice finish too, not all that long, but refreshing. It sells for £10/glass at BB, but if buying retail by 6-bottle case, it goes for about £16/bottle, which is good value indeed.
Lastly, as we dusted off the desserts, David brought a nice alternative of a sweet wine out for us to try. Actually it wasn’t wine, per se, but an ice cider (cidre de glace) from Quebec. It was new to me, but it was a wonderful idea, and would complement any dessert with apple or pear very nicely – it was perfectly balanced with great hit of acidity to balance the sweetness of the dominant apple flavor.
PERFECTLY FINE TO WINE AND DINE
My overall experience at BB was a positive one. There were no real duds in terms of the food (and we had a lot of it), although I don’t think the aioli would be worth ordering. As already mentioned, the charcuterie was as fine as I’ve had in London and the burgers were prepared with good ingredients, cooked well and tasted like…well…proper burgers. I thought the sea bass was fantastic, and would order it again. Aside from some of the desserts, many of which sounded and looked better than they tasted, the kitchen showed a very good pedigree and potential.
Of course, I was sitting with a group of chatty and friendly bloggers, and the restaurant did sort of pander to us throughout most of the meal. Plus we didn’t pay a penny. So I can’t vouch for the experience you would have if you came as a couple or small group for dinner at BB, but my guess is you’d like a lot of it, and that the service would be pretty polished. But eating out is a subjective thing, and a lot of it can depend on the day.
It’s a weird thing: while I really enjoyed it at BB, I haven’t felt a strong urge to return since – nothing against them, probably just more to do with my food cravings at the moment, or possibly the fact that we pretty much ate the entire menu so there are no surprises left (?) – although I would certainly drop by to see what magnum they were serving by the glass, and maybe munch on some sort of meaty number(s) to keep me sober.
I also found it personally amusing that DB had decided to come to London at around the same time I had decided to move back to New York – I hope that both of us have chosen the right place at the right time. At the worst, BB can serve as spillover for those who can’t eat ‘Dinner’ with Heston from the beginning of December (according to the good folks at the MO), and he does have all those well-heeled hotel guests, so I would guess that BB will be around for a while.
PS – in the middle of our meal, the former MP and PM, MT, walked into BB with an entourage of about three. I guess right now, this is somehow the place to B.
Note: I have been to Bar Boulud in London once, it was for dinner, and I was a guest of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park (and thus didn’t pay anything toward the bill).
Where: Bar Boulud, The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Knightsbridge
With whom: The Masticator
How much?: £110 for the two of us. That was four courses (Prix Fixe plus an extra charcuterie course)
This was the week that we got news of another American import, Keith McNally, bringing a feted and famous New York brasserie to London (Balthazar, in partnership with Richard Caring's Caprice Holdings). Both McNally and Daniel Boulud, at whose new London outpost we were dining, are considered by many to be American chefs, and both made their large reputations there however both were born in Europe, Keith McNally a few miles up the road from his planned new home.
I came to praise Daniel Boulud, but instead walk away strangely unsatisfied. As a dining experience overall, it wasn't one that will live long in the memory.
It wasn't the staff. They were as well drilled, knowledgable and friendly a brigade as I've seen...
It wasn't the decor. The light, well proportioned space is a graceful place for the well heeled to dine... Admittedly I was less sure about the arty splashes on the wall. The blot art of famous red wine vintages intrigued but were only vaguely reminicent of blood stained rorchach drawings.
Sadly, and more fundamentally, it was the food.
We went for a so-so Corbier, fair enough, but a little too earthy for both of us. It came from a large and excellent winelist priced squarely for the Four Seasons clientele. There are only a handful below £50, the rest quickly hit hedge fund levels.
The relatively long and involved menu presented a thrill as it was knowledgeably announced by our gallic host. There were certainly sparks of excellence here. Themes of charcuterie, sausage, pâtés and burger were highlighted and so we decided to go for the Prix Fixe with an additional charcuterie course (supplied by expert Parisian charcuterie supplier Gilles Verot). The small plate was more than ample and made a very good pre-starter paired with a moreish (light in texture but richly flavoured) boudin blanc sausage and its accompanying garlic mash. A very good salami made up for the dry and too subtle ham. Pâtés (particularly the tagine dagneau, a heavily spiced Maroc influenced lamb and aubergine mix and a superb pâté grand-mère) really excelled and the portions of the small plate were the ideal way to sample.
The chilled pea soup was simple elegance and one dish I'll remember for a long time. Fresh, creamy and with an occasional snap of tiny rosemary flavoured cruton, it hit the spot perfectly.
Sadly it went a little down hill from here. The Masticator's burger was initially dry, tasteless, unseasoned and lukewarm with a shredded lettuce, 'special sauce' and thin, limp tomato combination eeriely remenicent of a certain golden arched chain. Only a tasty brioche bun saved it. The team were swift to offer a replacement due to the temperature but this arrived in the same state (albeit warmer). The chips were inedibly saline.
My roasted chicken breast had a rich rustic and flavoursome taste of pure perfect poultry and arrived, in comparison, piping hot. Slightly dry too though sadly, it was helped by a rich (if salty) gravy but badly let down by rather floury fingerling potatoes and overcooked artichokes.
The Masticator had further problems with his desert (though this time arguably of his own making). A pervading scent of lavender that put him off his two (small) scoops of mint and coconut ices was tracked down to the overpowering handwash in the Mandarin Oriental bathroom. That aside, a powder dry hazelnut cookie didn't add to the experience. My exotic fruit sundae was preceded by a long spoon hightening childish anticipation before it arrived in a Martini glass. A pleasant but not earth-shattering mélange of passion fruit purée and cream came with nuggets of an excellent coconut macroon to give some needed bite.
Will I come again? Absolutely. It's a great space for a business lunch in the area, a safe menu overall with some excellent notes and very good charcuterie. It isn't somewhere I'll be rushing back to though. For the price, I'd rather take a day trip to Paris and pop by Gilles Verot's shop in person.
For photos see Greedy Diva @ http://greedydiva.blogspot.com/2010/05/bar-boulud-french-...
Daniel Boulud is pretty much a superstar of the USA dining scene. He can lay claim to being the chef patron of many an acclaimed restaurant and his 3 Michelin starred Daniel in New York (a darling of The New York Times - it has received 4 stars from 3 successive critics no less than 5 times since 1986) was recently ranked 8th in San Pelligrino's World's 50th best restaurants. (The Greedy Diva had a solid but slightly less dazzling experience there in 2008 - which I'm sure has The New York Times thinking twice.) And now Monsieur Boulud has pitched his flag in the heart of London. I had my table booked before you could say "steak fri...".
While M. Boulud was born in Lyon, which plays a heavy influence on the food at hand, Bar Boulud has a swanky, New York feel (the music on it's website says it all).
Sister to New York's Bar Boulud, the London bistro decor is intended to be a modern interpretation of a wine bar. Elegant, sleek and sexy, there's a zinc bar, oak panelling and wooden floors (intended to be reminiscent of wine barrels), chandeliers, and swathes of red leather (intended to "conjure the warm depths of a delicious Burgundy" - the hint was lost on me at the time, but I suppose I get it in hindsight). Overall, the decor is fairly understated - it's not going to bowl you over before you taste anything.
The classic French bistro menu holds much to allure. We took longer than usual deliberating over so many appealing options - the Boudin Blanc truffled white sausage with mashed potato is calling me, but so is the beetroot with horseradish and hazelnut, the fish soup and the coq au vin. But then what about the signature charcuterie plates from renowned charcutier, Gilles Verot - such as the Lapin de Garrigue - Provencal pulled rabbit, carrot, courgette and herbs terrine? Tempting.
In the end, we opt for the £20 menu prix fixe (we'll come back again if we like it), before my deliciously oaky Marsanne steals the last shred of my decision making ability (Andre Perret, Marsanne, Vin De Pays Des Collines Rhodaniennes 2007 - £6.50 - absolutely lovely).
I start with the luxurious rabbit terrine with cornichons and cocktail onions, toasted bread and a hearty mustard. Elegant and wantonly good, the 2 Frenchmen on the table next door have a serve each, then order another to share. Oui.
The Peanut Gallery starts light, with the Salade de Roquette - rocket salad, garlic confit toast, stewed tomato, tapenade and buffalo mozzarella. Each element is nice enough, although, not surprisingly, there's nothing here to showcase the kitchen's real strengths. TPG is pacing himself. I'm still in some shock over his choice here, but if we're looking for that silver lining, it certainly gives us just one extra excuse to come back for a face to face with the Boudin Blanc. (Can you tell that it's still playing on my mind?).
It's hard to go past the chance to devour a New York style burger - it's been a while. We both order the DBGB Yankee Burger - a grilled beef patty, iceberg lettuce, tomato, sweet onion, sesame brioche bun, cheese pickle and fries (£13 with cheese on the a la carte menu). In this price bracket, it's got to compete with my beloved burgers at Hawksmoor and Goodman. It does.
It might be the messiest thing I've eaten for some time (think shredded lettuce in a train wreck), but this baby is the closest thing I've had to that much sought after, but highly elusive, US style burger in London. It's reminiscent of Shake Shake (and this, for me, is a mighty accomplishment). But it's loftier, even if there's a little too much foliage. The meat is loosely packed, moist and sumptuously flavourful and mine at least was perfectly cooked to the recommended medium. Surprisingly, TPG's patty was a little more well done than mine. (But I still didn't share). The accompanying thin cut fries were are good as they looked.
On the a la carte menu, the Frenchie Burger comes with confit pork belly as well as the beef patty and there's a Piggy Burger with a beef patty and BBQ pulled pork. While these other combos sound tempting, the flavour of the beef can really sing in the classic DBGB Yankee burger.
Quite satisfied, I could eat no more than 2 scoops of refreshing mint ice-cream and a decadent chocolate sorbet. More could be made of the sugary biscuit in between if they're going to bother at all.
TPG finished with the Gateau Basque - custard cake with brandied cherries (£6). The cherries packed a strong punch, but the custard cake itself was boring and dry with a hint of orange that didn't succeed in lifting it out of the doldrums. Disappointing.
Next time, I'll be trying the freshly baked madeleines (£4 - if they're the same ones we had at Daniel, they're divine) or the macaroons (£5) - among other things.
We finish with a sweet Domain De Trapadis, Rasteau 2007 (£9) (rich, grape juice flavours, although nothing earth shattering here).
Although there's a wine list fit for the snobbiest of vinophiles, with a particular focus on Rhones and Burgundies, there's also plenty to keep the rest of us happy at a reasonable price range.
Prices generally are reasonable, and surprisingly so given BB's location in the heart of Knightsbridge. Service was friendly, helpful and generally faultless. It will be interesting to see if the standards keep up once some of the staff return to M Boulud's New York ventures in the coming weeks. I'll be going back to just to make sure.
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