“Dinner at Mandarin Oriental? Why not?!” so that was how it started. We booked a table at THE Mandarin Oriental, and what did we have? We had burgers. Expensive burgers, fancy burgers, luxury burgers.. yes those were the thoughts that sprung onto my mind when I booked it.
Bar Boulud, located inside the Mandarin Oriental is Daniel Boulud’s first London restaurant, he is a French chef based in New York which he is known for to be a star. Why? His high-end restaurants has three Michelin stars and apparently his mid-range brasseries are always packed. So when he arrived at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel it’s something that allows him to show the skills. I had always known the Mandarin Oriental to be high-end, expensive, after all it is in Knightsbridge.
There is a special three courses offer for £32.25 when I booked as well as a average price of £41 per head. Having looked at the menu it was obvious we wouldn’t go beyond £80 in total even after service charge, but we were given the choice so we decided when we arrived.
Bar Boulud had its own separate entrance to the hotel, but as we arrived by cab (London style) we got dropped at the entrance of the hotel where I was kindly greeted by the doorman with a huge umbrella in the rain. I was escorted to the entrance before my partner got off the cab. So we arrived via the grand fandango of the Mandarin Oriental (in style I’d like to call it).
It was different to what I had expected, the atmosphere was informal but the restaurant was near-empty when we arrived. We arrived at 6:30pm it was almost the time where you are likely to start seeing the high rollers drinking in the bar, or perhaps, we was in the wrong place for them (I could see a casino round the corner though). There was a nice dark, relaxing theme to the restaurant, it looked minimal and doesn’t give the impression where you start to wonder how much the bill would be.
We were taken to our seats and had a quick conversation whilst we looked at the menu, the lovely waitress came to introduce herself before she allowed us to continue choosing our choices, she was attentive of course*.
The starter to our meal were Moules à la Crème, steamed mussels in white wine, parsley and crème fraiche. I’m not much of a mussels’ fan, however, this was very delicious. Why? There was a generous amount of parsley and the crème fraiche (or soup as I kept referring it as) was smelt very ambrosial. It was fragrant, sweet but at the same time the delicate smell was made me want to drink it all after eating all the mussels. The size of the mussels was substantial, it was ‘muscly’ [insert muscle jokes]. It had a pleasant taste of sea but it wasn’t ‘fishy’, it was meaty but also tender. It went very well with the crème fraiche. Need I say more? It went very well with the unlimited bread that we had.
The burgers we ordered were the Piggie and the Yankee. I was disappointed that I didn’t see the option to order a ‘Frenchie’ burger, I was super excited when I looked at the menu on Opentable, but it was still a burger at the end of the day which satisfied my stomach.
The Yankee burger consisted of a beef patty, iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle on a sesame bun, we added a cheddar cheese on the burger for an additional cost. I was pretty certain all burger came with cheese but this isn’t the case. The Piggie bun consisted of a beef patty, BBQ pork, jalapeño mayo, cabbage on a cheddar bun.
Both burgers came with fries so we didn’t need to specifically order anymore sides because we are likely to order desserts if we wanted more. The burgers must have been 7 or 8 inches in height, they were huge. But then again with a £19 burger you will expect something ‘a little more’ unlike the burgers restaurants around London costing an average of £13 each. The Yankee burger looked more appetizing than the Piggie burger, although the burger was very tasty, the beef patty fell apart very easily when I sliced the knife through. The cabbage fell out of the burger and it looked like a mess. The way I would describe it was, the patty looked like someone had squished the ground beef together but too much was put in.
To give it credit, it tasted good. But it might be worth considering not to over populate the cheddar bun. There is not a ‘classy’ way of eating burgers (if so please enlighten me) but it was funny to see how easily it broke. The fries were delicious, but I wouldn’t help but think of the crème fraiche and how it would taste if I dipped the fries in it. The Yankee burger was equally as tasty as the Piggie burger, but the sad part was, we didn’t finish them because the starters filled us up.
The dessert choice was very minimal, and there wasn’t something that caught my eye, so unfortunately no dessert this time. But it is worth a visit if you have a big appetite for burgers.
You must have wondered why I had put an asterisk earlier, this is about the service. Our waitress is lovely, but she was too attentive in my honest opinion. We were almost left no time to choose our drinks, although I went for the soft drinks option by choosing a virgin mojito, the wine and cocktails menu was very extensive. There must be at least 100 different types if I am being modest. So I didn’t understand why the waitress came to check on us after 5 minutes when the restaurant was near empty when we arrived. There was a 2-hour limit to how long we were supposed to return the table. This is debatable and a variable as it will depend on how fast the customer is escorted to the table, time to choose dishes, efficiency of the mains etc., but we were on or desserts and paid the bill within an hour and a half. I personally agree that there should be a time limit per table but it’s pretty pointless and insulting at the same time as it can vary. It’s strange that if you book a table for 2 or a table for 4 you are given the same time limit. The wine mark-ups are very high, I believe I saw a bottle of wine for over £900, I forgot the name but as someone who very rarely consume wine, I found it rather pricy. But then again, I do believe it would be a good wine and there is a market for it.
I almost forgot to mention, by the time we finished our starter, we must have had three sets of bread and butter. This is not because we ate the bread, but Bar Boulud appears to have this idea of replacing the whole basket and butter after two or three slices of bread was eaten. It was a nice gesture but at the same time, I think it was a waste because they could have at least waited until we asked for the basket to be refilled or asked if we would like more.
Visit Bar Boulud London at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel at: 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA
Value for money 7/10
Price range: £££
Average Price: £65+
I paid: £70+