Ricard is in fact a chap called Richard Howarth and the Bob Bob a wealthy Russian by the name of Leonid Shutov. Richard gave Leonid the nickname of Bob as he found Leonid unpronounceable. I guess Leonid renamed Richard out of revenge. The restaurant name is a bit of whimsical mathematics. Leonid is said to have put up two-thirds of the finance for the venture so he gets twice the mention.
We were going for afternoon tea. Bob Bob Ricard is found at the far end of Carnaby Street. Yes, that bastion of all things tie-dye and joss-sticky has changed out of all recognition into a street of chain boutiques. BBR is, however, a haven of class with a front door and monograms to encourage the prospective diner to expect something a bit special. This prospective diner was not disappointed.
Designer David Collins has introduced the same humour and melange of cultures displayed by the owners into the restaurant itself. It’s a veritable snapshot of an enlarged Orient Express. A stylish impression of a bygone but classy age when there were plenty of staff to polish the brass. It’s a restaurant which would seat 1930’s starlets, spies from Istanbul as well as Ladies wot lunch. On reflection it’s a restaurant that should be appealing to anyone with an eclectic taste for the finer things in life.
We were settled into our comfy blue leather-upholstered booth. Plenty of marble-esque table top and aforementioned brass. Each booth is furnished with a power point. No, dear reader, that’s not for your computer. BBR serves breakfast as well as afternoon tea (and every conceivable meal either side of tea), and the socket is for the toaster. An amazingly practical idea. Aside from the energy outlet there is a button marked Press for Champagne. It doesn’t have a tap, it’s rather just a means of calling the champagne waiter. I am sure that button has an almost hypnotic draw for some.
The afternoon tea here is classic but thoughtful. The crustless sandwiches include tomato bread for the ham and mustard, and coronation chicken on carrot and coriander bread. The ubiquitous cucumber sandwiches are made with onion bread. Nice elevating touches.
Scones at Bob Bob Ricard are served with a liberal helping of clotted cream and artisanal jam. A couple of cups of hot and reviving English Breakfast tea (OK, I know it’s no longer morning but I was the customer and the customer is always right) helped down this substantial spread, and we hadn’t even reached the top of the three-tier stand.
Notice it was “we”. Well, this stand gave enough food for two. I’d recommend you start with just that, if there are a couple of you. In the unlikely event that you are still peckish then try some of the other delights such as crumpets, muffins, teacakes and that toaster.
The top plate would have been beckoning to you while you munched your scones and savouries. It’s the cakes. These were a divine selection of half a dozen miniature fancies that will take you back to your childhood, or they will if you are English and of a certain age. Battenberg, Victoria sponge, Rum Baba and Cream Horn were tempting but the Custard Tart and Chocolate Beleron fair turned this reviewer’s head.
Bob Bob Ricard is ideal for an afternoon break. One can enjoy an unhurried atmosphere of old-fashioned charm and elegance. The staff were attentive and enthusiastic. The location is convenient for shopping trips to Liberty’s and Hamley’s and the prices are no more than one would expect. It’s a spot I’ll return to often – yes, for tea, but I hear the evening menu is well worth exploring.
Bob Bob Ricard, 1 Upper James Street, Soho, London W1F 9DF
Phone:0203 145 1000
Visit Bob Bob Ricard here
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018