Monday, August 11, 2008

REVIEW: Buddha Bar, London

Now, I don't normally review bars and/or restaurants on the blog; I leave that sort of thing to Mr Factory and his fancy mediterranean lifestyle), but as this place only opened on Friday, and I was there on Saturday, I thought I might try to get in ahead of Anton Ego and his colleagues.

If you've not come across it before, the Buddha Bar is a small-ish chain of restaurant-bars at various locations around the world which, unsurprisingly, are themed around the orient and Buddha. The picture above shows the Paris venue, and the London branch is very much the same in layout - the whole place is dominated by a massive Buddha statue, and the restaurant and bar alike are more shadow than light (as I mentioned in point 5 of this post, that can mean you fall over things). But it's certainly got an atmosphere about it, despite effectively being within a hollowed-out leg of Waterloo Bridge (well, they call it Victoria Embankment, but it's inside the northmost stump of the bridge, so)…

Anyway, the London branch was due to open some months ago, and its opening date was pushed back by several weeks if not months, meaning that the laydee and I turned out, by chance not design, to be dining there on what was its second night of actually being open. In terms of the environment, this was fine - the place was clearly finished and ready for business - and in terms of service, it meant that we often had several members of staff looking after us at once, which was a pleasant change from most dining experiences (and only once did one of them bump into a piece of furniture, which is more than I'd be able to do in such a darkened workplace).

As for the food and drink, well, take a look at the menu, and you can see if it's your sort of thing or not. The absence of a specific vegetarian main course option on the menu is something of an omission, because there is one - I had a very nice vegetarian curry served within a hollowed-out coconut, which was tasty but not heavy, and nicely presented. The desserts are very good too, and, again, not overly filling.

If you followed the link above to the menu, you'll see that the prices are pretty high (though if you want to see really big numbers, take a look at the bottom right corner of page 2 of the wine list. Crazy). And I won't argue with that - the Buddha Bar isn't cheap, but I think it's not just a place to eat but also an interesting atmosphere to be in; more a place to go to celebrate an anniversary, or someone's birthday, or a date when you want to do something a bit different.

A lot of reviews of the other branches tend to focus on the prices or to suggest it's a slightly pretentious place, and I can't pretend there isn't some validity to that kind of comment, but if you want a change from the usual sort of environment, and don't take it too seriously, I'd say it's worth a visit.


Stevyn Colgan said...

What? No 'bread and buddha' on the menu? A classic 1970s gag opportunity missed!

John Soanes said...

Shame on you.

But they didn't have any Budweiser on the menu either!