We'd planned to go for an aperitif at the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, but it was another warm, sunny evening and the queue to get served lived up to the name of the establishment, so instead we went to Bar Boulud early and had a beer at the bar. The restaurant has its own separate entrance and I'd been under the impression it was in the basement, but actually it was more of a lower ground floor.
First impressions were favourable and there seemed to be a high staff-customer ratio. Although there were no seats together at the bar, three solutions appeared within seconds - someone offered to move up, some people left, and a spare bar stool was brought, so all was well and I had a good view of what appeared to be a jeroboam of rose sitting in an ice bucket ready to be served by the glass. I had a girly Liefmans strawberry (or was it cherry?) beer and M had a blond beer which appealed due to its name, Bitter and Twisted.
After that, we went into the main restaurant where although the tables were very close together, somehow the acoustics were good so that I could hear what M was saying but not what the people on either side of us were saying. Very fine bread and butter were provided and both were replenished the instant we finished, and there was no problem about having tap water which was also assidously topped up throughout the meal.
The wine list leapt into the stratosphere quickly, but there was a good range by the glass and, in the mood for red, we had three options under £30 which at least made choosing quite easy. We decided to pass on the 1990 premier cru Vosne-Romanee and instead went for a gutsy Corbieres for £26.50.
We shared a charcuterie plate to start (£16), which included several hams and terrines, two kinds of mustard, cornichons and cocktail onions, and something that was probably remoulade which I left alone. For main course, it had to be the burgers as everything else is seriously pricey. M went for the embarrassingly-named "Piggie" which came with pulled pork, while I had the "Frenchie" which had what was described on the menu as confit pork belly, but actually looked very much like bacon. Let's just say I regretted not going for the Piggie and if I go back, that's what I'll have. We asked for the burgers to be cooked medium and in fact they were quite rare, but that didn't bother me. Both cost £12.75 and we had to order additional fries to go with them, at a toppy £4.75. Nevertheless, after coffee, the total tab was £107 including service, which I considered pretty good for such a swanky venue. I thought of our meal at Shampers wine bar last year which was a similar price but with nothing like such a sense of being looked after.
At lunch on Sunday we spent some time discussing a perennial favourite topic -why it's better to eat in than eat out, given how expensive eating out is these days and how most of the time you can cook similar food yourself, drink fantastic mature wines from your own cellar with it, and not be bothered by annoying waiters refilling other people's wine glasses but not your own, or obnoxious other customers, or noise levels meaning you can't hear your own voice... I could go on. However, Bar Boulud has joined the select group of restaurants that are actually worth visiting, in my opinion. Thanks to G for recommending it and to M for her company on this occasion.