While we weren't to know it yet, it was Paulo himself who greeted us on the entering the restaurant and his easy going yet slightly quirky charm made us feel most welcome from the moment we stepped inside the door; like we've said, we've been there before but every time that first impression counts, and at Bar Boulud, they really do do it well.
A drink at the bar first and some convivial chat with the barman further highlighted the friendly ease with which they treat customers. Together with @winechapUK, we moved to our table and settled on oysters, the charcuterie board and individually selected mains.
A dozen Fine de Claire oysters started proceedings: simply delicious. This was followed by the small charcuterie board that included the fromage de tete, tagine dagneau, jambon de paris and country pate. It is well known that first class charcuterie is one of the 'brand signatures' of Daniel Boulud and today's offering didn't let him or them down.
On the mains, we were torn, so many good things including their renowned burgers (of which in our time we've had several). Last time though we selected (amongst other dishes) the coq au vin and thought then that it was the best we'd ever tasted. We couldn't resist ordering it once again; we also ordered the lamb ragu tagliatelle. The mains though, sadly, turned out to be the weakest link of the meal.
In the case of the lamb, the ragu was simply too salty (especially when combined with olive and parmesan) and the ragu overwhelmed a relatively small amount of pasta. On the coq au vin, the plate was busier than before and the flavours offered less depth, a major contributing factor being the sptzle that previously was served in its own separate pot was now integrated in the overall dish. There was a lot of it too which sadly pushed the dish out of balance.
They redeemed themselves though on cheeses and dessert. The Chocolate tart, peanuts, salted caramel guanja ice cream was especially good. The chocolate tart itself was reminiscent of the much loved Golden Louis XV at Guathier Soho (right down to the gold leaf) though our comment on Gauthier Soho's dish was that while it may be a deep chocolate experience, the plate seemed incomplete. The impact of the addition at Bar Boulud of salted caramel chocolate ice cream was to clear and refresh the palate between bites of rich chocolate so as to provide an overall more satisfying experience; wonderfully done. Last time there, we had the Coupe peppermint which we also delighted in.
In that small radius around Knightsbridge, there are many good restaurants and deciding which one to visit if you're in the area is always hard. And yet Bar Boulud tempts us again and again because it makes food, and indeed the enjoyment of food, so easy. We've already used the adjective relaxed to describe the experience of eating at Bar Boulud yet it's worth repeating that while acknowledging how hard every member of staff there is working to make it that way for their guests.
The bottom line is that we have a very soft spot for Bar Boulud. For sure today, and so far only today, the mains were a little disappointing, yet we remain of the opinion that Bar Boulud is special. The menu is populated by all manner of temptations while the front of house do a brilliant job in looking after you. We started this post by suggesting we've been to Bar Boulud on a number of occasions in the past year, we'd expect to be going again on a number of occasions in the coming year also; we recommend you do too.
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