Rivea, Bulgari Hotel, Kinghtsbridge
Well, where do we start with this one…the Bulgari Hotel looks like the hangout for the likes of Russian billionaires or footballers who haven’t quite realised that money doesn’t buy class yet, you can’t miss the bling of mirrors, dark crystal and smoked glass. Don’t let this intimidate you; if you like eating then get yourself here tomorrow.
Rivea at the Bulgari is a fairly new restaurant (we visited it in the opening month first then again in January) that aims to be fine dining as it comes under the Alain Ducasse’s portfolio. This is headed up by Damien Leroux, who has worked under Alain for around ten or so years as his protege – don’t mess this one up Damo as big Al’ won’t be happy! I must add this is a legacy post as the menu has now changed, I’ll add to it when get a moment.
Alain Ducasse has brought the French and Italian Riviera to London and offers ‘small plates’ in a fine dining, yet chilled atmosphere, even the waiting staff wear Converse All-star sneakers and cardigans.
If you have been to Alain Ducasse’s gaff in the Dorchester you will instantly feel like you are walking into a more colourful clone; I’ve always heard cloning was a bit dodgy as you never get the same genes and may end up looking like one of the locals from Deliverance; as I slowly edged my way down the stairs I couldn’t hear the banjo playing, so braved it all the way, keeping my bow and arrow close to hand.
I forgot to mention that this restaurant is the basement, there is no natural light. Separating the room from the bar above are thread like hangings from the ceiling, they have this in the center of the Dorchester’s restaurant. That is where the similarity stops. The floor tiles are in vibrant blue white and light grey, which I assume is to mimic the classic Rivera white and blues.
The menu at Rivea is made up of small plates, which they recommend you having four or five per head, we of course started with five each (we ordered some of the same as I didn’t want to share a mouthful) along with bread and that was about right for lunch.
Tigelle – to you and I that’s little bread type muffins
Perfect little morsels to wolf down in no more than two bites (I could do this in one, but Miss Hungry would give me that frown) filled with punchy pesto, rocket and hard cheese. It’s the fastest £7 quid I’ve ever spent.
This is one of Queen Lizzy’s top dishes, so I had to order this to see if the Queen’s taste was as good as mine, she’s done alright here!
I was a bit worried the gelée would feel like cold jelly making its way down my throat, from a dodgy pork pie, but it was light, full of flavour the lobster was gentle and spot on.
Octopus Salad, baby spuds, pesto and garlic crisps
Octopus was super tender, some bits finely sliced almost carpaccio thin and a few tentacles on top which I love, the spud were OK, but I didn’t really get much from this one, looks powerful, but was limp and flavourless even with the garlic crisps. Poor show Damo.
Red mullet confit, sun blushed toms and olives and capers
Crisp skin and perfectly cooked mullet, super sweet sun blushed toms were great as offset by the salty capers and olives. The only gripe I have that it really was small, I picked at it like a Lady at lunch so it would last longer, if only Jesus could have fed the thousands on this one I would have pushed back in line for, seconds, thirds fourths, fifths and sixths.
Rivea salad wrapped in socca – their signature plate
Socca is a super fine crepe made from chickpea flour. This is their signature dish and was filled with what you would expect in a tuna nicoise. This was brilliant, rolled into its little branded cone you picked it up like a Friday night kebab and started to nibble your way down. Flakes of tuna, hits of anchovy, crisps lettuce, ripe tomatoes and olives, hit the spot. Yes Damo, yes, you have seriously pimped a tuna wrap.
Corn-fed chicken breast with macaroni gratin
Mac and cheese is in Miss Hungry’s top three dishes so I had to fight to taste this one and do a swapsy with my main of lobster which is next. This is some seriously posh mac and cheese; long macaroni’s laid next to each other with a rich béchamel sauce with bubbly cheese on top. Chicken was spot on and not chewy and just done, as it should be. I suppose this was a jus rather than a sauce, but deep in flavour and lick the plate yummy. Damo you are doing well – I have a very happy lady.
Blue lobster, purple artichokes from Provence
This was mine, well 90% of it was as Miss Hungry needed a bit in return for the Mac and cheese. Anything with artichokes in, I’ll order it, mix it with lobster it should be a winner. Lightly wilted gem lettuce, a pungent lobster reduction and overcooked lobster, Damo, what have you done here. I’m being super picky, but it’s justified, the claw was near spot on and the tail was a touch rubbery. Flavours perfect, just tripped at the last hurdle. I’ll give you this; it was your first month, but I would rather you cock up on someone else’s plate. You were oh so close, so very close.
Chocolate disc with caramel and candied hazelnuts on top, with salted caramel ice cream
Back in the game Damo, seriously back in. We had one each, no sharing this time, not even a smidgen of hope I was going to give up something that sounded like my idea of ecstasy on a plate. The outer chocolate cracked when tapped with your spoon to reveal a soft inside of caramel. The bitterness of the outer layer was perfect with the inside and with trying to make the little scope of ice cream last was the hardest bit of the lunch. I really can not fault this, quite a statement from me.
Hungry man scores
Fine Dining, French, Italian, London