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Wednesday 15 December 2010

London Restaurant Reviews – Bar Boulud with a Sneaky Peek at Mandarin Oriental's Royal Suite

Much has been written about Bar Boulud since its opening in May 2010. Few London restaurants have attracted so much media attention, some may even argue, to the point of exhaustion. This review however has a twist - I made my way to this popular restaurant by Mandarin Oriental's Royal Suite!

My chance to visit Bar Boulud came as an invitation from Travel Onion, an American website that searches the web for travel/review blogs from around the world. Travel Onion lists the favourite blogs they find according to their various locations and their readers will find through these links the recommendations they need when planning their foreign trips. In addition to London, some other destinations include Paris, Tokyo, and New York, with Shanghai and Berlin soon to be added.

I personally use blogs whenever I travel and find them useful especially for restaurant recommendations and for things to do which are off the beaten track. I very rarely use a travel guide these days. Earlier this year in Seoul, through Daniel Gray's blog "Seoul Eats", I was fortunate enough to meet him and a bunch of his friends for a "makgeolli" tasting at a bar specialising in this native Korean rice wine. It was a fantastic evening - I met some very interesting people and learnt more about Korean culture, food and drink that evening than I would have by myself in a month.

Back in London, and more precisely, at the luxurious Mandarin Oriental, I met Cal Simmons (Travel Onions CEO) and Holly Johnstone, the hotel’s PR manager who were to give us a tour of the hotel before our lunch at Bar Boulud.

Few hotels have impressed me as much as the Mandarin Oriental - the rooms we saw, particularly the spa and ballroom were very beautiful and elegant. However, the show stopper was the hotel’s Royal Suite - at a staggering £11,500 per night, the Royal Suite was one of the most luxurious rooms I have ever seen. It was more like an apartment than a suite, and exquisitely decorated with walk-in closets, marbled bathrooms, and original art work.


Heston Blumenthal is opening a new London restaurant "Dinner" at the Mandarin Oriental and we had the chance to see a large poster featuring the famous chef during our visit. It is interesting to see that like in many other countries, particularly in Asia, London hotels are increasingly becoming a restaurant destination for locals as well as travellers.

After our quick tour of the hotel, we headed to Bar Boulud for our much anticipated lunch. The restaurant has a rather casual decor but still retains a certain elegance, and is not nearly as stuffy as I feared.

We shared platters of "Degustation de Charcuterie" (small @ £14 and large @ £28) - one of Bar Boulud's most popular dishes, they were filled with delicious cuts of ham, salami, and various pates, terrines and pickles.

We also had the "Aioli" platter (small @ £9.50 and large @ £18) - a lovely chilled selection of poached cod, shrimp, mussels, baby vegetables (French beans), quail eggs and sweet garlic dip.

For the main course, I ordered a DB Burger (Daniel Boulud) @ £20, only served on Sundays and Mondays, this is the fanciest burger I have ever tried - ground sirloin beef patty stuffed with boned short ribs, foie gras, and preserved black truffle. It was truly delicious, and the foie gras gave a real depth of flavour, although I could hardly taste any truffle in it.

Head sommelier David Vareille was at hand to match our food with four great wines including an 07 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc (California), an 08 Argentinean Malbec by Achaval Ferrer, an 07 Pinot Noir from Domaine Cantin in Irancy (Burgundy), and a fantastic 1995 Chateau la Fontaine de L’Aubier (Bordeaux) which was a perfect match to my "posh" burger and chips.

I truly enjoyed my visit to the Mandarin Oriental - it was a bitter sweet experience as I know I am unlikely ever to be able to afford staying there. I will however return to Bar Boulud (most certainly not via the Royal Suite!) for another burger and to sample some more of their extensive wine list.

Thanks to Travel Onion, Mandarin Oriental and Bar Boulud for a most enjoyable visit and lunch.

Bar Boulud on Urbanspoon


  1. I don't think I'll ever get to see the suite in the flesh (unless TGB has some birthday plans I don't know about!) so thanks for the sneak peek! I really like Bar Boulud and think the burger is excellent. Am still struggling to get a reservation for Heston's Dinner however.

  2. Gosh, the burger does look interesting and quite a mouthful as well. Wait a minute, was that boned ribs stuffed into the sirloin patty?

  3. @ Greedy Diva - well, I can think of one million things I would like to spend £11,500 than a one night stay at the Royal Suite of the Mandarin Oriental. Loved the burger though.

    @ London Chow - yes, and foie gras and truffles, it was worth the £20 price tag I assure you!

  4. I haven't been back to Bar Boulud since my first visit, when the tables were so close together my handbag swiped a glass of water off the next table and smashed it all over the woman sitting there. Deeply embarrassing.

  5. @ Lizzie - oh no, I hope it wasn't a terribly expensive 1960 bordeaux grand cru!?!


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