There are so many restaurants and dishes calling out to be tried in London, with nowhere near enough time to ever do so. The bacon naan roll at Dishoom, anything at Antidote and Hedone, that other-worldly potato purée with gravy at Dabbous, the meat fruit at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner.
I came geographically close to the last of those in a recent lunch at Bar Boulud. In common with Dinner, both share a home at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and both are helmed by a truly world class chef.
Daniel Boulud is rightly a global brand with iterations of his bar in New York and Boston, db at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and his breathtaking signature restaurant Daniel in Manhattan’s upper east side – amongst others.
Bar Boulud is his French-inspired bistro and wine bar offering a full à la carte menu, served all day. You enter direct from Knightsbridge, not via the hotel, to be greeted by a zinc-topped bar. A pretty sleek open kitchen features Exec Chef Thomas Piat behind it, in the zone and hard at work overseeing the pass.
The dining room’s buzz is already considerable for a weekday lunchtime – when you see some of the set menus, you can understand why. A £17 two or £19 three course ‘Bouchon Menu’, changes daily, available until 7pm. For the venue, service and, most of all the cooking, it’s an absolute steal.
The world of charcuterie and big burgers is however a very difficult one to avoid, so the set was eschewed in favour of a look around the menu. Starting with a perfect summer drop of Rosé from a beast of a bottle:
What’s there to say on these that hasn’t been said before? They represent near enough the pinnacle of the art of charcuterie, served in a seriously generous portion for fifteen quid. In Knightsbridge. Amazing.
Moving on from meat…to more meat, in the shape of the Piggie Burger. Of the four on the menu, it’s the only featuring bbq pork and, as regular readers will confirm, anything featuring bbq pork has to be ordered. It’s written in stone. It’s a glorious, sticky, sloppy delight thanks to the jalapeño mayo and seared beef juices. As it darn well should be – who ever heard of a polite, tidy burger? Boulud also puts the French in fries.
To wrap up, chocolate lava cake with aerated hazelnut sponge, bicoloured crumble, vanilla chantilly and
raspberry sorbet. All the techniques, innovation, textual contrast, colour and flavour you can put on a plate – and all in harmony.
In a part of London where restaurants are closing down due to a lack of regular local diners – such as the lovely Racine, highlighted here – it’s gratifying to see somewhere thriving and delivering excellent plates at very fair prices. While the rarefied surroundings certainly help, the mix of faces and voices show that visitors and Londoners alike know a good thing when they see it.
Bar Boulud London, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
Tel +44 (0)20 7201 3899 http://www.barboulud.com/london/