Bob Bob Ricard

Did you know that the man who invented Imperia Russian Standard vodka* also invented the periodic table of elements? Or that the liquid is distilled no less than eight times, and filtered twice through Ural mountain quartz?  Or indeed, that “Stolichnaya” is just another flavour in Russia and has been heavily marketed to us in the west, whereas the more discerning Russian connoisseurs are less impressed at its mere double distillation?

I picked up these morsels of information, and so much more at a recent vodka tasting at Bob Bob Ricard. I also discovered that I harbour a predilection for very, very expensive vodka, you know the dahl on toast for a month sort. The sort that’s made using wheat from only the most supreme of harvests. Like the best vodka, Kauffman Special Selected Vintage tastes of nothing when you drink it, but invades the mouth with retrospective floral fumes. Tim Booth once said, “if I hadn’t seen such riches I could live with being poor”, I realise now that the man was clearly talking about Kauffman  vodka – I want to drink it and only it all the time; but sadly it’s only available in Russia.

I’d been meaning to go there for time (BBR that is, not Russia – I’ve been there), the place had become the stuff of legends in my mind. When people talked about emergency champagne buttons at every booth and spotting staff out and about in Soho in their distinctive little pastel coloured uniforms I just sighed and wondered.

So when the gorgeous Kavey invited me along to a vodka tasting paired with matching foods I was like a little labrador of excitement ( Thanks again Kavey)! A couple of Sundays ago Luiz, Neil, Mimi, Kavey, Rachel and I gathered together to share in an afternoon  tasting of exquisite little shots of artisan vodkas paired with artistically presented platters of delicacies  in the glamorous “Orient Express”- esque settings. My sighs had been answered.

The brilliant Leonid took us through our tasting, his incredible passion and knowledge of the clear stuff was apparent. He enthused without a sliver of condescension or assumption and I came away feeling a great deal more informed and curious about the  nuances of this aqua vitae.

The food at Bob Bob Ricard is exquisite. A dish of pelmeni (meat dumplings) with vinegar and soured cream was my favourite, the juicy,  gibbous  pouches of meat slathered in cream and dipped in tang, these were pure nuggets of nirvana and I was most reluctant to share my sharing plate.  I also loved the quails egg mayonnaise with anchovies. On screen, this might not sound like all that, but those anchovies were so dense and meaty – the defined, muscular flavours went seamlessly with the alcohol.  A dish of potted shrimps was just pure sin, the butter to shrimp ratio being way out of kilter, it paired meltingly with some fragile shards of melba. A jellied ox tongue with creamed horseradish came all dolled up in aspic and was almost too pretty to eat. We also tried a Sipsmith vodka, which unsurprisingly had a more juniper-like bouquet. This was served with malosol cucumbers, pickled on the premises and seriously addictive.

After all this we were served a sumptuous roast dinner, each one crowned with a  gigantic nimbus of Yorkshire pudding, bigger than my head and replete with sticky, caramelised roasted vegetables and hefty slices of perfectly roasted 28 day aged Aberdeenshire scotch beef, smothered in a deep, stout gravy.  This was all deeply upsetting of course, as I had gorged like sheriff fat man on the earlier plates, ignoring warnings of what was to come. This was topped off with a smorgasbord of perfectly executed souffles, tarts, jellies, cakes and some ethereally light rhubarb cocktails. Five hours later and defeat was finally admitted. My periodic table will never look the same again.

*Dimitry Mendeleev

all photos courtesy of Kavey


1-3 Upper James Street
London W1F 9DF
020 3145 1000

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12 comments

  1. “gorged like sheriff fat man” Ha haa!
    Thanks for coming, so glad you enjoyed!
    I love Bob Bob Ricard!

  2. This place looks like fun…

  3. Ate here on Tuesday evening for the first time and seriously fell in love. Love the decor, the staff, and the menu. Grabbed me by the heartstrings, it did. Didn’t dig into the vodka–will have to save that for another visit. Which must happen soon!

  4. I’ve been back to BBR since my vodka tasting night for a paid meal so I can do a proper review. I’ve been sitting on it for a while, though, partly so there aren’t too many BBR reviews out in the blogosphere at once, and partly to see if my opinion of it will fade over time, as so often happens. Two weeks on, it hasn’t yet. I am seriously, seriously in love with this place. I want to live there.

  5. Hi Rej, this is by far the most beautifully written review I have read of BBR, I love your writing. You captured our experience there perfectly. Love this place, and cannot wait to go back.

  6. You had me at emergency champagne buttons. A great write up, as always.

  7. What a beautiful writeup as usual – seems a sin anyone can read it for free :P

  8. I loved the voddy tasting. Although, not so much the next day. You could say I loved it a bit too much. The food was so good – I wasn’t expecting it. Those dumplings! Divine. I can’t wait to go back.

  9. Great write up, as always Rej. Loved BBR when I attended a vodka tasting, and have been back since for cocktails (superb)…

  10. gastrogeek

    Kavey – thanks again, it was a delightful afternoon.
    Grafoo – yes, I’d definitely recommend it.
    Chris – I loved your write ups of it – (both of them!)
    Luiz- that’s very kind, it was mucho fun wasn’t it?
    Krista- Isn’t it great? Let me know if you need a partner in crime next time you go back!!
    Katy – thanks! I was v.tempted to press….
    Rashmi – aw, that’s really lovely, thank you!
    Helen – yes, I tried to avoid that by having tiny sips of each one- the dumplings rule.
    Dan- thanks, can’t wait to go back!

  11. BBR is all over the web at the moment – there’s nothing for it other than to visit and see what all the fuss is about.

    I’m not really a fan of vodka, so it’s interesting to read about what tasting a great vodka should be like. You’ve pretty much convinced me to have a go.

    The food does look fabulous. The dumplings in particular. I’m also really interested in the beetroot dish. Is that sour cream?

  12. how lovely to have a vodka tasting. i’d love to try this place. nice write-up, as always, Rej. x shayma

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