Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental is the London outpost of French-born, New York City superchef Daniel Boulud. It is a spacious, relaxed dining area tastefully decorated with lots of oak panelling, and burgundy red leather upholstery. We visited for lunch on a Saturday, and were able to walk straight in without a reservation. The place did fill up quickly though and not long after there wasn’t a spare seat in the house.
From the Little Bites section, we had Rillons Croustillants - Crispy and Tender Pork Belly, Cracked Pepper, Dijon Mustard and Cervelas Lyonnais En Brioche – Lyon Specialty Pork Sausage, Pistachio and Truffle in Brioche. The latter was very nice; quality sausage with a subtle hint of truffle encased in a lovely, light brioche. The former, however, was rather less successful; the pork belly pieces reasonably tender but not crispy, and with a bit too much fat. Still, not too bad.
For my main, Yankee Burger: Grilled Beef Patty with Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato and Sweet Onion, Sesame Bun, Pickle, Cheddar Cheese was juicy, succulent and cooked perfectly medium as requested, but best of all was the awesome bun it came in – light, feathery soft yet crisp, it’s undoubtedly one of the best burger buns around. But whilst the burger was certainly good, and unquestionably one of the best in town (with the proviso that I have still to try the highly-rated offerings at Hawksmoor and Goodman), I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that there was something missing – a relish, a special sauce, or even just a bit of mayo would have enhanced it further. A side of Pommes Frites was also good, but not quite up to the level of those at Byron. Croque Monsieur: Warm Housemade Ham, Gruyère Cheese, Béchamel was fine too.
In a nutshell...
Bar Boulud is a slick operation, with a friendly, accommodating and capable front of house, and a kitchen that churned out plates swiftly and efficiently – just what you want at lunchtime. The food was not great, in the sense that none of the dishes I tried (admittedly a small sample size) were the best example of its kind, but they were all refined, and of a consistently high quality. Couple that with the casual, welcoming atmosphere of the joint, and the accessible menu of many classical favourites, and I can definitely see Bar Boulud becoming a regular hangout for me. A Prix Fixe menu available at just £16 for two, and £20 for three courses makes the proposition an even more attractive one.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA
Average Price: £20-30