Test Driving Bob Bob Cite - a shiny City palace of fine wines and 'country' French cooking

blinisSiberian sturgeon caviar - served with blinis and creme fraiche - £39 for 20g. Because you ought to try and have caviar with something at Bob Bob Cité

So what do we need to know about Bob Bob Cité?

This is the second restaurant from Leonid Shutov - who brought us the wonderful Bob Bob Ricard. His City restaurant has been a long time in the making - around five years and with a reputed £25 million budget. But when you see the place you'll understand why.

Where is it?

You'll find it on Level 3 of the Leadenhall Building - aka the Cheesegrater. Don't try and head up the escalators, instead you'll need the dedicated restaurant lifts to the left of the entrance (the best way to the building is in from Leadenhall Street itself.

Where's good to meet for a drink first?

If vintage chamapagne or vodka martinis are your thing, you'd be better off heading straight to the bar here. But, if you want to meet elsewhere, Black Sheep at the ground floor of the building does cocktails in the evening and Planet of Grapes is just around the corner for a glass of wine. And it's only a 5-10 minute walk to The Ned from here too. 

redblueThe Blue room and the red room. As you can see, it's not understated.  

Is it a place to dress up for? 

Put it this way, it's been a while since a restaurant drew attention to its dress code, which here is "Strictly elegant, ties are not required. Fashionwear, formal or casual, is welcome; everyday comfortwear and sportswear are not". So leave your Gucci sliders and Nike jogging bottoms at home.

So does it look anything like Bob Bob Ricard?

Well yes and no. Yes, in that you'll find the same extraordinary attention to details in the design and its execution here, but the style has been given a bit of a luxe city look and feel. Think luxury superyacht meets The Orient Express.

The tables are still all booths - this would be a particularly excellent restaurant if you wanted to discuss a business deal with a degree of privacy - and we loved the details like the hidden cupboards for jackets at each table (much like you'd find if you were flying Club). The private rooms are particularly striking - one at either end of the restaurant, and each of those has a dedicated bar.

redblueYes, you will want to use this...

And the Press for Champagne buttons?

They've had a modernist overhaul - so here they're "Presser pour champagne". When you press your button - and it had better be for Champagne only - look out for your table number appearing highlighted in the stock exchange ticker-tape design detail around the top of the dining room.

Is the food the same as Bob Bob Ricard?

You'll still be able to order a chilled shot of vodka and caviar and blinis here, nodding to the Russian roots of the restaurant, but the menu is directly influenced by chef Eric Chavot who's running the kitchen here. It's described by them as "classic French country-style cooking" - although it's about as country-style in its execution as Marie Antoinette's hamlet at Versailles was.

Here's what we had:

oystersOysters gratinee - Jersey rock oysters baked with black truffle Hollandaise (£18 for three). A heady mix of that rich Hollandaise and briny oysters.

eggDuck egg topped with gruyere and truffle foam, served on a salt beef hash with pickles (£12.50). Imagine a top French chef has done a haute cuisine spin on brunch. In a good way. 

salmonChunky salmon fume imperial - smoked salmon with lemon jelly, green gazpacho, potatoes and pickled onion served with caviar. (£26.50). Wonderful mixture of textures with that lemon jelly an inspired touch.

pieLe "pie" de poulet - slow roast chicken pie with morels and king oyster mushrooms in a sweet wine veloute (£21.50). We know that some of you question the use of the word "pie" if the crust is the top only - but pie it is. And a wonderfully rich one at that. Note the blue outline on the plate - on all the crockery these were done by-hand in Stoke. Over 6000 of them!

blanquetteVeal blanquette a l'ancienne - braised veal in white sauce with glazed Chantenay carrots and pinhead mushrooms - (£32.50). Comfort food par excellence.

babaBaba au rhum - served with Chantilly cream and doused in Vintage Panama rum (£14). Delightfully boozy - and note that you can see the ticker tape reflected in the top (in blue). 

ilesIle flottante in a pool of vanilla creme anglais, anchored on a layer of soft toffee and covered in toasted almonds (£14). Dessert of dreams with that toffee layer a brilliant addition.

What about vegetarians?

There's plenty to choose from across the menu from French onion soup as a starter to truffled potato and mushroom vareniki dumplings and - our recommendation - the Le Pie Du Maracher - a gardener's pie with Champagne and truffle veloute, Jerusalem artichokes, king oyster mushrooms, celeriac and onion soubise.

And the wine list? Presumably, it's pretty punchy?

Yes, yes it is. We found two bottles of white and three of red coming in just under the £40 mark, but really most of the list is significantly higher than this.

As you'd expect from anywhere with all those buttons for Champagne, the list focuses on the Champagne region, kicking off with Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial at £75 and soaring to just under £13k for a Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque, 2006 - although, to be fair, that's for a Methuselah - the equivalent of eight bottles. We had a very nice Pouilly Fuissé ‘Vieilles Vignes’, Domaine Corsin, 2016 for £97.

There's also some rather old Armagnac and Chateau d’Yquem?

Bob Bob Cité boasts one of the world's largest selections of Armagnac. They have over 100 vintages starting with 1888 so if you want a glass of something from your birth year as a special treat - this is the place to come. There's also a similarly extensive collection of Chateau d’Yquem sweet wine going back to 1866.

Overall thoughts:

We'd follow Eric Chavot anywhere and here in the City, in this jaw-dropping dining room, he's turning out exquisite French dishes with just the right hint of Russian bling. This is 100% the place to come if someone else is footing the bill - and if you're celebrating something special the private dining rooms here are just dazzling. 

Hot Dinners dined as guests of Bob Bob Cité


More about Bob Bob Cité

Where is it? Level 8, 122 Leadenhall St, London EC3V 4AB

When does it open? 10 May 2019

Find out more: Visit their website or on Twitter @bobbobcite 


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