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Andy Lynes

Bibendum

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I ate at Bibendum in Fulham Road last Tuesday and was very pleasantly suprised. It's been nearly 10 years since my last visit, during which time Simon Hopkinson retired from the kitchen and the reputation of the food has been on a steady decline.

I am pleased to report that I had a great evening with some hugely enjoyable food, great service and delicious wines. The restaurant itself it probably one of the best designed in the captial, and despite being 14 years old, looks brand spanking new. It has a timeless quality that will probably still look classic in another 14 years. There is plenty of room between tables (although the twos along the banquette are pretty close) and the high ceiling and stained glass give the restaurant a very spacious feeling.

I ate a salad of foie gras, confit and air dried duck with saute potatoes to begin. It was a generous portion with plently of liver and duck to justify tyhe 17.50 price tag. It was by far the most expensive starter of a long list, supplemented by specials, with many below 10.00. I continued with a dish of salmis of pheasant, squash ravioli and deep fried sage (18.00). The two large breasts (oh er missus) of the bird were incrediby tender and accompanied by a deeply flavoured sauce, tasting more of veal jus than game stock. The pasta was a little on the robust side, but again very nice. I finished with the justly famous chocolate pithivier and jersey cream (8.50) after a single slice of almost liquid vacherin.

I will write a complete review for the food store soon, but in the meantime, I would say Bibendum is creeping it's way back up the restaurant charts and far exceeds it's fairly crappy showing in the current guides. My half of the bill was £70.00 which included coffee, water beer and a half bottle of good white wine (no details I'm afraid). So, not cheap but there or there about the going rate in London.

Has anyone else eaten there recently. Any regulars noted an improvement of late? I would be fascinated to know.  

(Edited by Andy Lynes at 4:26 pm on Nov. 26, 2001)

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I was there a few months ago and had a very good meal.   I truly enjoyed the restaurant's setting and the service was flawless.  It was our first visit to Bibendum, so I can not speak to any improvement or decline in the restaurant.

The food was good but not spectacular, hence I can not remember many of the details of the meal.  I started with very nice soup and had a slightly disappointing fish entree.  My wife had an outstanding veal entree.  The sommelier had recommended an excellent white burgundy that while not cheap, was a good value.  I think I had a crème brulee for dessert, but my memory fails me.

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As I have said elsewhere, I won lunch at Bibendum and we had our meal there yesterday. Although we didn't pay, the lunch is currently £20.00 for 3 courses which I think is to do with the Evening Standard promotion.

Food was fabulous - deep fried calves brains with sauce gribiche, a wonderful  old spot pork chop with anchovy and rosemary butter and champ for me, the duck salad and poached cod with lentils and salsa verde for Gill plus desserts of apple and pecan strudel with maple syrup and a fantastic vanilla ice cream and a very rich chocolate marquise with pistachio sauce.

If you are looking for somewhere for lunch, I would not hesitate to recommend this place especially at these prices.

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Yet another lunch at Bibendum, this time for my mother-in-laws birthday. The price is back up to £25.00 a head and despite the recent loss of Jamie Younger to Teatro, the food was as splendid as ever. Starters of duck terrine, a dish of hot smoked salmon, poached egg, crepe parmentier and buerre blanc and one other which I have forgotten, were excellent as were mains of peasant with juniper sauce, creamed cabbage and its own sausage, salmon wrapped in proscuttio with herb rissotto and a magnificant plate of kidneys, sauce soubise and onion rings.

Side dishes of gratin dauphinoise, new potatos and chard were inclusive in the price. Desserts of Iced Zabaglione parfait with caramel sauce and poached pear, mulled red wine jelly, butter cake and creme chantilly were top drawer stuff. We drank champagne, a bottle of 1997 Verdecchio, some beers, coffee, tea, water and a dessert wine for a little under £170.00 including service.

The room looked lovely decked out in it's winter garb of red chair covers (but to the disappointment of one Chandos Elletson, editor of Restaurant magazine, who was enjoying a steak at the corner table and who told me he had come specificaly to see the blue chair covers against the stained glass windows for a restaurant design article he was researching. He hadn't realised the covers are changed with the seasons. He was off to the Connaught next, for some dessert I expect).

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as were mains of peasant with juniper sauce, creamed cabbage and its own sausage

Good God man that's not very PC is it? Are Cannibalistic tendencies common in Sussex?

Begs the question as to what you have actually ordered for us at the egulllet lunch?? :laugh:

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I forgot the "h" in pheasant. Sorry.

The other starter was a brochette of belly pork and scallops with a tomato and cuecumber chutney BTW.

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A rather startling two years on from my last meal at Bibendum, I returned for lunch last Thursday. The intervening period has seen the departure of restaurant manager Graham Williams to Gloucestershire to open the The Swan at Southrop with fellow ex-Bibendum employee chef Bob Parkinson.

His presence was sorely missed. Service verged on the sloppy and there was a palpable lack of personality in the room. The greeting at the reception desk was less than warm, while at the table, a succession of small but irritating errors added up to a disappointing experience.

A large bowl of olives was delivered to the table, only to be joined swiftly by a second. Not much of a problem in itself, but indicative of the lack of real attention being paid to us. Starters were served to the wrong person (we were a table of two) and main courses were delivered and left uncovered while my companion was away from the table. A request for an additional glass of wine went unheard by the unkempt sommelier who looked like he had just that moment woken up from a nap and the waiter who did the sommeliers job for him had to ask us if he had the correct wine.

Repeated attempts by my companion to engage the maitre'd in conversation fell on deaf ears. Considering that one gambit began "We've just been to Sophie Conran's house to try out her new range of pies", I was staggered at the apparent disinterest this was met with. Even if the member of staff couldn't personally have given a toss where we'd been, I would have thought this was a clear enough signal that the customer would like a chat.

Starters of roast butternut squash, garlic and sage soup and spinach mousse with anchovy hollandaise were judged to be excellent, while my main course of pan fried fillet of royal bream with creamed leeks, tarragon and sauce lie de vin was both delicious and faultless in its preparation. However, skate with confit fennel and lobster sauce went half eaten as the fish was less then fresh, and the plate was cleared away without remark. We skipped desserts as we had a full night ahead of us and I settled for coffee and great homemade chocolate truffles and nougat.

Bibendum is still one of the loveliest dining rooms in London and the cooking is for the most part still top drawer stuff, although it could never be accused of being cutting edge. At the moment, however, the edge seems to have been worn off the overall experience and a front of house shake up seems in order.

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Yes on eve of Fri Dec 22nd with 4 old Friends. Had a very pleasant meal, food and staff were great.


Edited by ermintrude (log)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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Excuse my language but I had a fucking awful meal here yesterday. The Maitre D' was too caught up fawning over a couple of regulars during the meal to notice long delays in service or to even think of asking how the food was (this was probably pretty self evident from the fact that most of mine was still on the plate when they removed it). I caught him staring into space for around 5 minutes at one point - useless.

Onto the food, the "highlight" of the meal was a goulash to start, good paprika flavour and a hearty winter dish. Venison pie with piccalilli was OK but the pastry was limp, thin and heavy all at the same time, a remarkable feat if you were aiming for that sort of texture but guessing that they weren't it was pretty awful. The meat itself was fine if uninteresting and too cold from the fridge.

My Wild Trout (I was assured it was brown trout) lacked seasoning, flavour, was woefully overcooked and served a little above tepid. It came with pasta and a shellfish sauce. It's no exaggeration to say that the pasta was stone cold, like it hadn't been heated in the first place and the sauce quite literally a teaspoon full - not enough to even gather what it tasted like, truly dreadful. Another main of duck with gnocchilooked like it had been sitting on the pass for an hour, this would probably account for its lack of temperature as well. The gnocchi had spread during the cooking process, normally a case of the potato being wet when they were made. Any other day I would have complained but I was taking my Nan out and she was enjoying herself so I didn't like to embarrass her. although she also commented later that her Monkfish was a little cold.

Desserts were unmemorable except for a millefeuille of chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream. This was actually a scoop of chocolate mousse with some sort of pastry on top of it with a scoop of ice cream followed by another layer of pastry. Looked like something a first year catering student would have produced on his first day at catering college.

A Truly awful experience, one that I won't repeat. It's still a lovely room though.


Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I currently (and temporarily) happen to live almost next door to Bibendum and was hoping to take a friend arriving on a late flight to dinner there next week before bedding him down. After reading the reviews I've decided not to do it.

But where to take him then? In Chelsea, within walking distance?

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I currently (and temporarily) happen to live almost next door to Bibendum and was hoping to take a friend arriving on a late flight to dinner there next week before bedding him down. After reading the reviews I've decided not to do it.

But where to take him then? In Chelsea, within walking distance?

Racine? French comfort food a 10 min walk up Brompton Rd.

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Racine? French comfort food a 10 min walk up Brompton Rd.

Sounds like an excellent suggestion.


Edited by TheSwede (log)

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I currently (and temporarily) happen to live almost next door to Bibendum and was hoping to take a friend arriving on a late flight to dinner there next week before bedding him down. After reading the reviews I've decided not to do it.

But where to take him then? In Chelsea, within walking distance?

Racine? French comfort food a 10 min walk up Brompton Rd.

... and founded by Henry Harris who was in the Simon Hopkinson's original brigade at Bibendum all those years ago.

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Bibendum was recently awarded "The Most Consistently Excellent Restaurant award" by Tatler magazine.

Also for user reviews check out top table http://www.toptable.co.uk/venues/restaurants/?id=474

I've eaten here for the last 12 years and yes it has had it's ups and downs - mostly due to service more than the food - but in general out of 4 meals each year out of those I've had 2 bad ones, 4 excellent ones but the others were exactly what I expected and at the moment it seems to be on great form in terms of consistency.

Don't expect fireworks, or flash stuff, just good food, in a great setting. in a great room with decent portions - I.e for the snails - not 6 but 12 etc. Also they don't turn tables - you book at 7pm and want to stay there till 1pm if you wanted - not like many restaurants I could mention

I persuaded my work colleagues to go there for our Christmas event - for many there first experience at this scale of restaurant - they were very impressed. Especially with the somellier, basically told them 'work event', ans we were paying do your best - they came up with outstanding wines and a we huge shock with the bill as it was much lower than people anticipated. Trust me the sommeliers there are good.

Sorry but people always post here when they have an amazing meal or a bad meal - not when they got what they expected. Hence "The Most Consistently Excellent Restaurant award" is very appropriate for Bibendum.


Edited by ermintrude (log)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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you book at 7pm and want to stay there till 1pm if you wanted - not like many restaurants I could mention

Do you get a bed as well....... :wink:

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a sign of the times.

Central London restaurants having to offer dinner, bed and breakfast - will it catch on? Surprised that Gordon didn't spot this gap in the market first.

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a sign of the times.

Central London restaurants having to offer dinner, bed and breakfast - will it catch on? Surprised that Gordon didn't spot this gap in the market first.

Angela Hartnetts new place The York and Albany suggests he probably did....


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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a sign of the times.

Central London restaurants having to offer dinner, bed and breakfast - will it catch on? Surprised that Gordon didn't spot this gap in the market first.

Angela Hartnetts new place The York and Albany suggests he probably did....

so true.

I'd missed it in the great man's eloquent tour d'horizon

http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2008...d-new-york.html

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