Classics Revisited: Bar Boulud

BB 24,  beef patty, foie gras, short ribs horseradish mayo confit tomato, black onion
BB 24,  beef patty, foie gras, short ribs horseradish mayo confit tomato, black onion

If the mark of a good haircut is one that nobody notices then Bar Boulud’s recent refurbishment is worthy of Sam McKnight. The restaurant looks exactly the same as it did before, refreshed rather than restyled, its tactile beige fabrics and acres of chunky wood the softly spoken background to a humming Knightsbridge scene that is anything but muted.

It is set in a spacious basement with its own entrance next to Knightsbridge tube, and you’d never know you were underneath the Mandarin Oriental until the time comes to troop off to the loo along serene white corridors with signs pointing you to the spa. 

Roasted beetroot, goat cheese hazelnuts, shallot dressing  

While Bar Boulud was being primped and preened, Daniel Boulud did a pop-up in the food halls of Harrods, which tells you everything you need to know about the chef’s place at the high table of global luxury. There are Boulud restaurants stationed in all the moneyed honeypots of North America, but it’s in his adopted hometown of New York that Boulud is the biggest deal. From Daniel to Boulud Sud, DB Bistro Moderne to DBGB Kitchen and Bar, no iteration of the chef’s name is left unexplored and no eating opportunity left uncatered for, whether Michelin-starred blow-outs or craft beer and hot dogs.

Choucroutie Garnie 26

Bar Boulud is the bistro side of the business and while Daniel Boulud himself is as suavely on-message as any CEO, Bar Boulud is a whole lot of loosened-up fun. There’s nothing earth-shattering on the menu, just ooh-la-la Gallic classics served with five-star friendliness.

Starters of seared prawns and Burgundy snails are both happy conduits for the transformative power of garlic to elevate any piece of protein to the sublime. Lemon sole with Grenobloise butter is a fabulous piece of French sauciness, ditto the crème anglaise pooled next to an Amaretto-sweet slice of gateau Basque.

Meat is the beating heart of the Bar Boulud menu. The piggie burger is an inch-thick beef patty piled with pulled pork, smeared with jalapeño mayo and sandwiched in a Cheddar bun. For something more comme il faut, the wondrous charcuterie is testament to Boulud’s childhood growing up near Lyon where making silk purses from sow’s ears (and every other offcut) is an article of foodie faith. 

Roast chicken at Bar Boulud

But for me the best thing to eat here will always be the croque madame, a dish so beguiling that I seek out excuses to find myself in Knightsbridge to indulge in solo gluttony, pricking the egg with a crisp French fry so that the yolk insinuates itself into every bubbled-up crevice of luscious grilled cheese. Some people might come to Knightsbridge for retail therapy – but I’d much rather cheer myself up with carb-laden comfort.    

Who to take: Bring your family for a classy Mother’s Day lunch
What to order: Meat feasts of burgers and charcuterie 
Bar Boulud Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA
barboulud.com/london