What: A reworking of one of London’s most impressive restaurants. Bob Bob Cité has been closed since the first lockdown but has now reopened as Bob Bob Ricard City. As the new name suggests, it’s been given a makeover to bring it more in step with Soho’s Bob Bob Ricard, although it’s far from being a carbon copy of the beloved Upper James Street venue.
Who: Leonid Shutov. The former Moscow ad agency boss launched Bob Bob Ricard close to Carnaby Street in 2008 and followed up with Bob Bob Cité in 2019. He has delayed the reopening of his City site - which is located on the third level of the Leadenhall Building - over concerns the Square Mile is only now busy enough to support such a large restaurant (the space is 15,000 sq ft). He has spent the last six months or so working on the redesign with Shane Brady of luxury interior design agency BradyWilliams.
The vibe: Costing a rumoured £25m to deliver, Bob Bob Cité’s dining room was spectacular, but lacked the cosy, intimate feel of the original Soho site. Tactics to bring the space more in line Bob Bob Ricard include the strategic use of smoked-glass screen to create booths, new lighting, rosewood panelling , the addition of velvet curtains and rugs and new art. While Shutov and Brady have worked largely within the framework of the original design, the pair have succeeded in their ambition to cocoon guests in “warmth, luxury and quality” and the overall aesthetic is certainly reminiscent of the original Bob Bob Ricard.
The food: The kitchen is now helmed by Ben Hobson, who has exactly the right background to deliver the brand’s distinctive take on high-end comfort food with a CV that includes a long stint with the Galvin brothers and Tom Kerridge’s The Hand & Flowers. The menu retains a French twist - at launch the food was overseen by flamboyant French chef Eric Chavot - but now lists more Bob Bob Ricard classics, including truffle and potato vareniki (dumplings); chicken Kiev; steak haché with fried duck egg; and truffled macaroni cheese.
To drink: The drinks programme continues to be identical to that of Soho. Perhaps counterintuitively given its luxury market positioning, Bob Bob Ricard was a pioneer of fairer pricing and continues to offer one of the capital’s most fairly-priced wine lists. Current bargains include Dom Pérignon 2010 for £156, Château de Beaucastel’s Châteauneuf du Pape 2008 for £124 and Domaine Leflaive’s Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Le Clavoillon 2011 for £170.
And another thing: Rather surprisingly given the challenges of the past 18 months, Shutov is poised to push the ‘press for restaurant’ button on Bob Bob Ricard’s first international location. And in Tokyo, no less. While a site has yet to be identified, Shutov is adamant that he will export Bob Bob Ricard to the Far East within the next few years. In fact, he’s gone as far as to list a Tokyo outpost on the group’s website as ‘coming soon’.