Churchill said 'although prepared for martyrdom, I prefer that it be postponed.' Our sentiments exactly, but that said, bloggers should never pull their punches, and to introduce an early spoiler, there were things we liked about BBR but there were also some things we did not.
For the next few minutes we then proceeded to breath normally and waited some more. Finally, laying our menus flat in front of us having by then chosen our food, someone came over to take our order. This heralded button, this somewhat gimmicky disappointment of a button - maybe ours wasn't connected - being so ignored by the serving staff was the start of what would be an evening of very mixed service.
The hugely redeeming factor is that the wine list is so reasonably priced. Indeed, they make a point on the menu of emphasising that i) their mark up per bottle never exceeds £50, and ii) that the wines they offer on their menu are priced at so much more on other restaurants menu (they tell you exactly how much). We've never seen anything like this before on a menu but we certainly applaud what they do here and it actually encouraged us to buy more wine and better wine because we felt like we were getting value. Accordingly, we had a Pol Roger 98, a Puligny Montrachet 07 and a Langoa Barton 1997. This latter wine cost us £68 while the menu tell us that this same wine costs £99 at The Greenhouse. Had there been only the usual two of us at the table rather than four of us as there were on this occassion, we would have moved yet further down the list for if the maximum mark up is £50, the more expensive the wine, the better the value as the fixed mark up makes a lower percentage of the total cost when served at the table.
Credit where credit is due, we think their wine policy is progressive and refreshing and really changes the economics of the meal for the customer (and it has to be said, for the restaurant itself I'm sure). Accordingly, we can imagine that BBR becomes a wine destination as much as a food destination.
With the leg of lamb ordered for the main course (a serving for two people), which is cooked to order and therefore can be an hour or so to the table, we had ordered an intermediate course of 'vareniki', a traditional stuffed dumpling associated with Ukranian cuisine and 'pelmeni', unleavened dough dumplings whose origins are based in Siberia. Given BBR's Russian roots, we thought it would be fun to try these. The vareniki was potato and the pelmeni was meat and both were nice. Indeed, there was some votes for this being the dish of the day.
The lamb first, wonderfully presented and good and tasty, this was quite original in how it is offered to the diner and BBR get marks for this. It was certainly appreciated at our table. It does though come with nothing else so be sure to order some sides.
The lobster was pretty good too in quantity and quality and with the squeeze of lemon and the tasty cooking juices, it was a pretty decent lobster showing and certainly didn't leave me hungry by the end. The french fries too were pretty tasty.
The veal got the lowest marks of the evening and was considered a little bland resulting in the plate not entirely being cleared.
However, what really lit the touchpaper is when Mrs CC who is five foot nothing and therefore whose feet and legs often dangle from chairs rather than connect with the floor was told to take her feet of the banquet as she curled her leg up Indian style to sit in greater comfort. Given that the banquet was made of durable leather, she wasn't wearing heels, it hadn't been raining and at the very most, a quick wipedown would remove any dust that might possibly be left, to be 'told off' by one of these surly waitresses when the bill is running up towards the £500 mark did not go down well. It certainly didn't open our wallet any further. We sought Richard for a ruling but he had left for the evening by this point; we shortly followed.
Overall, we can see why people like BBR: the place itself is lively and most probably even fashionable, the menu enjoyable enough (though not challenging) and the drink probably unsurpassed in value within the London serious restaurant scene. And maybe we hit an off day (or maybe our waitress herself hit an off day). The food too was broadly good enough but is it actually a foodie destination or is it rather a fashionable party destination? Most probably the latter. BBR occupies a prime location just off Golden Square but how far out of our way would we go to seek it out? We suspect not too far. With the final bill coming in at around £120 a head, it is moving into proper money territory and yet from a foodie perspective, there wasn't so much that was properly memorable yet there should be. Perhaps what we'll remember most is getting told off but we can get told off for a lot less money than that.
In the end then, is it enough to command our loyalty for a return visit? No time soon I suspect though we might give it another try in due course and see if the experience differs. I guess social media wilderness beckons.