First look: Bob Bob Cité reborn as Bob Bob Ricard City

·3-min read
Glittering opulence: the City site has had a substantial refit  (Bob Bob Ricard City)
Glittering opulence: the City site has had a substantial refit (Bob Bob Ricard City)

After some 19 months shut, Leonid Shutov’s Bob Bob Cité is to reopen this week, albeit in a rather different guise.

While the guts of the restaurant remain the same, Cité is to become Bob Bob Ricard City, following a “multi-million pound” refit that reflects its sister site, Soho’s famous Bob Bob Ricard.

The Leadenhall Building restaurant, which originally opened in April 2019 after a 16-month delay and building costs of an estimated £25 million, has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, Shutov has substantially overhauled the look of the place, changing the lighting, table tops, furniture and artwork. While it opened with both “1980s banker” vibes and some mid-century detailing, Ricard City now has the opulent furnishings that mark the Soho original — described elsewhere in the Standard as “Coke-era Elton John remodels the Orient Express”.

 (Bob Bob Ricard City)
(Bob Bob Ricard City)

Shutov said the new look reflected a market radically redefined by the Covid crisis. “These are different times and we all have to be realistic,” he told the Standard. “This restaurant was originally conceived six years ago, in a very different London, in a very different era. It would have been silly for us not to really scrutinise what the world is like today, and what people are like today. We want to create the best restaurant for this time.”

As such, the restaurant has been “softened”, with Shutov looking to the enduring success of the Soho Ricard for inspiration. “[Soho] is special occasion, destination restaurant, somewhere you go to be a little bit naughty, to mark a moment. It’s not somewhere you’ll just pop in if you’re in the area. In the city, that’s what’s needed: we want to be somewhere you’ll travel to for dinner, not just come in because you happen to be nearby.”

 (Bob Bob Ricard City)
(Bob Bob Ricard City)

The owner-proprietor added that while the millions spent “cost more than we would have liked to spend, especially at a time when every penny comes so painfully,” he had faith in London’s financial district as a site for success.

“We have no doubt that the City will come back,” he said. “It’s one of the most remarkable areas of London — not just for the people who work here, but architecturally it’s much more dramatic than anywhere else in London, and there’s so much phenomenal history, and such a buzz and sense of excitement. And all of that just appeals to us.”

While the two sites will share a similar outlook, the food will differ somewhat. Heading up the City kitchen will be Ben Hobson, who’s perhaps best known for his years at Galvin at Windows. Hobson will oversee a menu that leans towards a blend of French and Russian dishes, while the original is more of an amalgamation of British and Russian food. In truth, the menus don’t appear to differ tremendously, though the decidedly English-inspired Soho plates — prawn cocktail, slow-cooked lamb — have been dropped, and the expanded City menu offers more French favourites, among them onion soup, Limousin veal with Alsace bacon, snails in parsley and butter, and rabbit à la moutarde.

Shutov said that, besides the French onion soup, his favourite on the new menu was the duck confit cassoulet, “such a comforting, lovely dish, one of those that makes you want to come back for it.”

The restaurant’s famous Press For Champagne buttons, which have long been a hit at the original, have been refitted too.

“We’re delighted that it’s lasted so long and the novelty hasn’t worn off,” said Shutov. “As gimmicky as it may seem, the buttons encapsulate the spirit of the restaurant. It’s the epitome of the experience people have here, and why they come here — to celebrate, to be jolly, to spend time with the people that are important in their lives.”

After the City site reopens, the group is set to expand into Tokyo.

Bob Bob Ricard City reopens on October 26 at Level 3, 122 Leadenhall St, EC3. For more information, visit bobbobricard.com

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