"a decent restaurant serving a decent lunch at a cost you'd expect"Review Rating: Reviewed by All In London
Where do you go in London when you really fancy a burger at lunchtime? A French restaurant in a swanky hotel obviously! Seeing as a couple of us AIL Staffers were in the area we thought we'd be doing AIL users a disservice by not going in and trying one of the famous Bar Boulud burgers.
We turned up at around 12:30 and were greeted in an acceptable manner by the front of house staff, jackets safely stowed we were taken through the bar area into the restaurant. We passed a fair few very nice tables which would have been ideal, which leads to my first problem with Bar Boulud, our table; we were seated on a bench that had 4 tables for 2 squeezed into a space where 3 would have been the optimum. The person sat on the bench side literally couldn't get out without asking the next table to move their table over, this kind of thing annoys me, in a cafe you let this stuff slide, in a pricey restaurant you expect more (space).
The restaurant is quite a pleasant place to be, nicely decorated in a brasserie style with a sense of quality and tradition, it's not trying hard to be different, and as a result isn't. The only thing I didn't like was the display of meats and other items dotted along the wall between the restaurant and kitchen, they looked interesting from a textural perspective but ultimately quite unpleasant when you're about to eat, kind of like something from the Natural History Museum.
Anyway, on to the food. We were just in for a quick lunch and both decided to go starter and main a la carte with no dessert and no alcohol. My colleague ordered the artichoke soup starter (£9.00) and Beetroot and Goats Cheese tart (£15.00) for main. The soup was perfect in every way; seasoning, depth of flavour; hint of cream on top but not too much; perfect. The main let the side down though; it was far too rich in goats cheese, over seasoned and too greasy. My colleague (not normally one to leave food on her plate) actually failed to finish it. I opted for the Salade Provencale (rocket, buffalo mozzarella, tomato confit, artichokes, tapenade crouton, anchovy £9.00) and the Piggie Burger (beef patty, bbq pulled pork, green chili mayonnaise, bibb lettuce, red cabbage slaw, cheddar bun £14.00) and a side of pommes frites (£5.00).
The Salade Provencale was superb, I don't usually expect much from a salad (even with an e on the end) and I'm usually not disappointed, however this was very good. The combination of buffalo mozzarella, anchovy and tomato confit was very well balanced and made every mouthful taste about 20% better than I'd expect a salad to, very happy with that. The Piggy burger didn't quite live up to my expectations, I asked for the beef patty to be cooked medium and I think it fell slightly short of that, which meant it had a texture that was almost wet, I didn't actually finish it as a result of that. The other flavours in the burger were good but it wasn't the show-stopper I was expecting after reading the reviews. The pomme frites tasted (and looked) re-heated and they were caked in salt, not the best I've had.
The service was ok, I think they were trying to drown us in sparkling water as it was topped up almost as we drank it, this is another no-no for me. The staff were all pleasant and professional (apart from the guy who spilled sparkling water all over the table and seemed not to notice) and apart from the over-zealous water top-ups I couldn't really fault them.
In summary, it's a decent restaurant serving a decent lunch at a cost you'd expect given the hotel that's sat on top of it. I'd like to go back and try some of the other dishes that I saw leaving the kitchen but for me the burger clearly isn't the star of the show here.
All In London reviewed Bar Boulud on Wed 26 Feb 2014