When I visited: March 2016
Location: London, Knightsbridge
Team: Daniel Boulud (chef-owner), Thomas Piat (Executive Chef), Benoit Massenneau (General Manager), David Vareille (Head Sommelier)
Rating in the Michelin Guide: Recommended
What to wear: Men – jeans or nice trousers and a shirt; women – jeans and a smart top or a smart dress (could go more casual)
Ambience: Busy, fun
Course of the meal: Le Royal: hazelnut dacquoise, milk chocolate mousse, praliné feuillantine, caramelised hazelnuts, chocolate sherbet
If I could change one thing: Quicker service of desserts
Ah, the Mandarin Oriental. Temporary home for lots of royals, and permanent home to the incomparable Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. After a successful shopping trip, my partner Owl and I headed to a late lunch at Bar Boulud, the ‘casual’ restaurant within the hotel.
The atmosphere was busy and lively even in the middle of an afternoon, with a very mixed set of diners including lots of young children as well as adults. The ‘portraits’ of wine stains on the walls is a talking point and the restaurant retains some of the best elements of the classy-yet-fun décor of the rest of the hotel.
We shared a small carafe of fresh white wine and enjoyed a great bread basket of crispy pieces topped with soft, warm butter. My partner Owl had a classic onion soup with beef broth, white wine and gruyère while I had the ‘avocat crevettes’ salad: chilled prawns, avocado, grapefruit, cos lettuce, french cocktail and coriander, which was deliciously summery and light. My partner Owl also had a crab salad with hand-picked Cornish crab meat, olives, orange, cucumber and seeded crackers.
We were impressed by these starters and main courses, but taken aback at how good the desserts were, even if we did have to wait a while for them. My partner Owl’s ‘La sphere vanille à la crème de yuzu’ with yuzu curd, vanilla mousse, pecan crumble, vanilla salted caramel, and St Germain foam was wonderfully light yet complex, while my ‘Le Royal’ (pictured below) with hazelnut dacquoise, milk chocolate mousse, praliné feuillantine, caramelised hazelnuts, chocolate sherbet was one of the best chocolate desserts I’ve had in a long time and reminiscent of Gauthier Soho‘s wonderful Golden Louis XV dessert.
I would definitely recommend Bar Boulud for either a smart or casual lunch, and I think the light and fruity salads would work even better on a sunny day.