Bob Bob Cité is flash. But as Beyoncé says in her fierce 2009 hit Ego, ‘He walk like this ’cause he can back it up’ (in my world, all roads lead back to Beyoncé, just FYI).
The sister restaurant to the legendary Bob Bob Ricard, Bob Bob Cité already had pedigree, and yet it was five years in the making, a real labour of love for owner Leonid Shutov, said to have cost around £25million to create.
You enter the shiny palace of food and fizz – every inch of the 12.5km of mirror-polish steel buffed to within an inch of its life – through a private elevator, manned by a doorman, which gives your ego that little lift from the off – you know you’re heading somewhere special. The look is hard to describe, it’s The Orient Express meets Steam Punk meets Wall Street. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
There are similarities with Bob Bob Ricard – the champagne button, the retro leather-seated booths, the polished surfaces – but you’re certainly not in Soho anymore, Toto. This is the city, meaning the windows are vast (the restaurant is on the third floor of The Leadenhall Building (aka ‘The Cheesegrater’), and in tribute to the Stock Exchange, a dot-matrix ticker-tape strip runs around the room, changing colour when you hit that fizz button (it’s ‘presser pour champagne’ here, merci).
We did hit the button, and selected a couple of glasses of Moët (by the glass you can go as elaborate as a £40 glass of Krug Grande Cuvée, NV, but by the bottle, the sky’s the limit, with the priciest being a Methuselah of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque, 2006, for £12,950), and seeing your table number highlighted on the ticker tape is a little like playing rich-man’s bingo, where you pay the house.
If you’re celebrating a whopping bonus, you may also wish to cast your eye over the menu of 50 vintages of Armagnac available by the glass, as well as a collection of Chateau d’Yquem dating back to 1928 and vintage Ports from 1945. In another nod to the decadent, tables are not turned here, so you can take your time and sip those vintages for as long as you wish.
‘Seeing your table number highlighted on the ticker tape is a little like playing rich-man’s bingo, where you pay the house’
Another way the Bob Bobs differentiate themselves it that, while the Ricard menu has an Anglo-Russian flavour, Cité has gone all Francophile, with Chef Eric Chavot heading up the kitchen, championing meticulously-executed classics such as escargots, veal blanquette and daube de boeuf Provencal.
You’re still encouraged to commence your evening with a frozen vodka shot and some caviar, however. We did not, about which I feel a little remorseful since, when in Rome… But dining at the invitation of Bob Bob Cite (full disclosure), one tries to avoid ordering one of everything from the top shelf (we’ll take the Jeroboam of Pol Roger to go, cheers!).
Following our fizz, we enjoyed starters of French onion soup – rich with gloriously unctuous melting Comté – and duck egg au plat, a soft-cooked fried duck egg laid atop a salt beef hash and pickles with Gruyère and truffle foam. Both were big and hearty, not shy, delicate little fancy numbers one might expect in surrounds that ‘marry elegance and opulence’.
I’d have preferred my beef hash in a pulled, stringy fashion rather than the diced cubes it comes in, so that the flavours might run into each other a little better, but it is an unapologetically bold, beautiful dish (as are the dishes themselves – a 14-piece suite of contemporary Wedgwood bone china, designed by Leonid Shutov himself).
Having failed to persuade my Significant Other to team up with me on the house speciality of beef Wellington of 35-day aged Scotch fillet with truffle jus (almost dumped his ass right there, tbh), I ordered the grilled lobster thermidore with brandy sauce – a whopping 750g of fleshy, buttery lobster meat with oven-browned cheese crust. As conciliation prizes go, it’s got to be up there with the best.
The Wellington-avoider had the grilled 35-day aged Scotch rib-eye steak, which was a beautiful piece of beef. Ordered medium but still with plenty of pink in the middle and a crispy, fat-flashed crust around the edge. Sides of chunky fries and (seriously) creamy mash helped us deal with any juices that tried to escape.
‘Everything here – the decor, the food, the service – is meticulous, and it’s perfect for its postcode’
Dessert was an unnecessary decadence, of course, but after running through the options with our rather wonderful waiter, I was powerless to resist the île flottante, a dessert I’ve never tried before and quite a feat of engineering. A virtually weightless meringue, coated with toasted almonds, floated majestically on a soft toffee base masked by a pool of vanilla Anglaise. Magnifique!
My S.O. ordered the legendary Baba Au Rhum (or rum baba, if you prefer). When it arrived, we thought we should’ve gone for the crème brûlée after all (the table opposite had it, and it looked lovely) – the thing is huge, the size of a large muffin, but inside it’s light as a feather, boozy as hell (that’ll be the vintage Panama rum), and served with chantilly creme and some very thinly sliced pineapple, delicately concertinaed into pretty bows.
Oh what a night. Everything here – the decor, the food, the service – is meticulous, and it’s perfect for its postcode. Looking to splash the cash? Then this is probably your new favourite special-occasion restaurant.
A word of warning though, if you’re going to get on the sauce – tread cautiously when navigating your surrounds (ie. heading to the loo). The super polished surfaces create something of a hall-of-mirrors effect, which means you occasionally have to reach your arms out to check you’re not about to walk right into one of Bob Bob Cité’s very shiny surfaces and make yourself the butt of tomorrow’s trading floor bantz.
Level 3, 122 Leadenhall Street, London EC3V 4AB; bobbobcite.com