I finally made it to Bar Boulud at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel to see what all the fuss about and after an incredibly disappointing experience at 'Daniel' in New York, I must admit my expectations of Bar Boulud were not high. Perhaps this is the best way to tackle these foofy, over-hyped places, but on arrival I see the venue is not so much the 'Bar' that it claims to be and in fact crams double the amount of covers I would have thought to be sensible for a venue of this size, making it more of a full service restaurant than just bar. I don't like this at all, not one bit. If anything, when you first open a restaurant quality of service and attentiveness should be your key focus surely? Not so at 'Bar Boulud'; it's most definitely a "Cram 'em in and kick 'em out" type affair, with fabulously snooty French service to boot. This may wash in America, because Americans love our Euro-snobby ways and find it endearing, but we Brits expect better.
I wonder why they call it 'BAR Boulud' when it's really more of a Brasserie. Doesn't Brasserie Boulud sound better? I digress. Chatting to my companion we quickly realised how the interior reminded us of the formulaic standard decor of the 'Strada' restaurant chain. Bizarre considering how high profile the brand is, did they not think to try and do something a little better suited to Knightsbridge and the 5 star hotel that houses the restaurant? 'Null points' for decor.
Food wise, I dont buy into paying twenty quid for a charcuterie platter. Stuff that, if I want sliced meats I will nip to my local deli and get them there. I ordered the New York Burger (DBGB or was it DBBG????) and actually it was as good as I'd hoped albeit a bit on the small side, but accompanied by some pommes frites it was just enough for a greedy girl like me. My friend has the steak which she seemed to enjoy but she said her chips were hard and not as hot as she has specified she would like them to be. The devil is in the detail you know and the detail was clearly not high on the agenda tonight.
Dessert was not very good. My friend said "A meal without dessert is like sex without the climax" which made me laugh although I knew she was right. The dessert choices fell flat and we opted for some Madeleines and a trio of not-so-nice sorbets and ice cream accompanied by the ugliest biscuits I have ever seen, which needless to say we didn't touch. And to think we were charged so much money for the pleasure of desserts that we didn't even enjoy! The even bigger disappointment lay in the fact that they charge a fiver for the Mignardises of Madeleine cakes when in fact they are usually complimentary at 'Daniel'.
What a shame, I really thought they would exceed my minimal expectations tonight, but sadly the mediocrity of the experience did nothing but reinforce the fact that I was right in my pre-conceptions and that unless you are in the area and fancy a quick bite, you are probably better off avoiding 'Bar Boulud' altogether.