Looking for restaurants in The City? Read our review of lavish Bob Bob Cité, and check out our guide for London’s best new restaurants here.
Bob Bob Cité in a nutshell
The next gen of Soho classic Bob Bob Ricard, Bob Bob Cité is a special-occasion restaurant amongst the dramatic architecture of The City, with familiar comfort food, fizz on tap, and old-school hospitality.
Chef Eric Chavot has created a menu of French bistro classics that lean unapologetically towards the luxe end of the scale. Steak tartare can be cranked up with 10g of Siberian sturgeon caviar. Beef wellington of 35-day aged Scotch fillet comes with a truffle jus. Rum baba is drenched in vintage Panama rum.
What’s the vibe?
Bob Bob Cité is the sort of swanky where you come out of the loo smelling better than when you entered. Costing something in the region of £25 million, and five years in the planning and making, it’s got the kind of dark mood lighting that makes everyone look fabulous and staff that glide around effortlessly, always appearing miraculously whenever you need them. The American diner meets Russian submarine chic aesthetic has been designed by Brady Williams and there are a lot of lovely details to admire – from a peekaboo window at the bar revealing the wine cellar with magnums of Mumm, Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouët, to Bob Bob’s famous ‘presser pour champagne’ button and a view of the Lloyd’s building.
What’s the food like at Bob Bob Cité?
There’s caviar (Siberian or Russian) on offer, alongside oysters (gratinée with black truffle hollandaise, or au naturel) and starters such as escargots in garlic and parsley butter, and French onion soup with baguette croutons and comté. We’re advised to try the vareniki truffled potato dumplings with pickled mushrooms and shatteringly crisp battered onion rings. They’re okay but don’t wow, while salad waldorf arrives with fresh, crunchy leaves, sweet and sharp apple and giant raisins. It’s a clean and refreshing start.
The mains are the ones to concentrate your efforts on. All the dishes are about feel-good comfort food – fish pie, breaded lemon sole with tartare sauce, lobster thermidor, steak, braised veal, and plenty more besides. Slow-roast chicken, morel and king oyster mushroom pie is packed with tender brown meat, earthy ’shrooms and tender celeriac and carrots with a rounded sauternes and parsley liquor – its crust, a decorated golden, shiny pastry.
Lobster mac ’n’ cheese comes with well-seasoned al dente pasta, four different types of cheese each working hard in flavour and texture (gruyère, cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan), and a generous offering of tender shellfish under a blanket of golden breadcrumbs. Perhaps even better, though – and that’s a hard ask – is the grilled hispi cabbage, which arrived sweet, nutty and charred with a fiery, savoury green goddess sauce. Tongue pricklingly earthy truffle mash is another must order.
Floating island for dessert doesn’t finish the meal with the flourish it deserves – a perfect crème brûlée takes that crown. Vanilla seeds collected at the bottom of the dish like cigarette ash are topped with satin-smooth, cool custard and a hot wafer-thin layer of crisp caramelised sugar.
And the drinks?
The food menu starts here with a selection of russian vodka shots served at -18C, so if you think it’s just about the champagne, don’t be fooled. A dirty martini arrives ice cold, just the right side of briney, has a deliciously silky mouthfeel that it allows it to slip down all too easily, alongside its cocktail stick of buttery, chubby olives. There’s nine champagnes by the glass – starting with Moët for £15, going up to Krug Grande Cuvée for £40 – and plenty more by the bottle, magnum, jeroboam and methuselah. Wines tend to favour the old world. Brandy, by year, is offered to finish – ours is smooth, woody and mellow with layers of butterscotch flavour.
Unless money is no object, your time and money is best spent here on the mains (which are of decent size) and sides (and of course, champagne). Skip the starters and fill up on fizz and fun times, instead.
Bob Bob Cité, Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall Street, City of London, EC3V 4AB
Words by Laura Rowe
Photographs by Sim Canetty-Clarke