In the basement of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is Bar Boulud, a welcome addition to Executive Chef Daniel Boulud’s portfolio of French-inspired restaurants and wine bars. Bouloud’s operations include a three Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City, and now he has brought his brilliance to London in this dedication to seasonal French cooking and fine charcuterie.
Boulud’s French heritage and love of charcuterie is on display with the plates of wafer thin and chunky folds of cured meats, sausages and pressed terrines that sailed past our table. To begin, we opted for two French classics: escargots de Bourgogne and a country pate with foie gras, truffle jus and port. The pâté boasted little velvety pockets of melting foie gras between layers of bold French country flavours – an outstanding, rich and meaty offering.
The snails are a Burgundy classic that were bathed in just the right amount of garlic butter, leaving plenty to be swiped out of the little thimbles they were presented in with the excellent bread on offer.
We followed these masterpieces with a Salad du Marché with half a lobster and the ‘DBGB Piggie Burger’. The salad, already good, was made exceptional with the addition of the sweet and juicy lobster meat; the pickled girolle mushrooms were another great addition, adding some earthy bite.
Despite the restaurant’s reputation and emphasis on French heritage, it was the burger that was the star of the show. There were three to choose from – the ‘Yankee’, the ‘Frenchie’ and the ‘Piggie’; I selected the Piggie Burger, a chunky patty of excellent beef topped with a mini-mountain of pulled pork and chilli mayonnaise and served in a cheddar bun. The sweet barbeque sauce in the pulled pork combined with the juicy beef make this an outrageously good burger – indeed, some say it is the best in London – made even better by the accompanying silver urn of flawlessly thin and crispy, perfectly salted French fries. A triumph. The only thing that can spoil this is that because you are among the finery of The Mandarin Oriental, you are unsure whether to eat it with your hands (as you should) or use a knife and fork.
We opted for two lighter puddings – raspberry and hazelnut macaroons and floating islands with strawberries and lemon curd – that were full of wonderful summer flavours and a fine display of French patisserie at its most elegant and tasty.
Bar Boulud is a tremendous addition to the Mandarin Oriental, which, given the imminent arrival of Heston Blumenthal in the main restaurant upstairs, will finally have the gastronomic power couple to rival hotels such as The Berkeley, The Connaught and The Dorchester.