B.O.B's Lobster on John Lewis' roof garden
by Nick Harman - Saturday July 2, 2016 10:07 am
After a hard day eating Xmas food in July, Nick finds blessed relief at B.O.B's Lobster on the roof of John Lewis
The Xmas food shows start early, the oddness of eating mince pies and turkey on a sunny hot day made bearable this year by the not so summery weather. So having restrained myself all afternoon from seriously pigging out I was looking forward to the latest Night Tales pop up, this time on the roof of the store that is the undisputed King of Christmas TV ads, John Lewis.
The open space up there has been transformed into a grassy lawn by The Gardening Society and is open until 4th September hosting three unique high rise residences: modern British restaurant The Dairy was first, now it’s the turn of the first restaurant venue from street food favourite B.O.B’s Lobster and next up will be Shotgun, serving up their twist on the British barbecue.
The garden has been designed by gardener Tony Woods, previously RHS National Young Garden Designer of the Year, and has the pop-up restaurant and adjoining bar, with the lawn open all day for lunch, coffee and fresh juices.
It’s fun getting up there, the space was never part of the customer-focussed store originally so you have to ascend via staff stairs, but once up the shock of the view is great. The weather on our occasion was not great for the end of June; a trouser-flapping breeze, below par temperature and ominous skies, so we were pleased to get a table inside the ‘hut’.
The menu changes regularly but is made up of plates for sharing and is compact. The aroma of frying seafood is enticing and the staff are bubbly and helpful.
We had just a few dishes, I was sadly a bit full of Xmas pudding I found, but all were good. A plate of beef tartare shot through with quail’s egg yolk, made crunchy with almonds and with micro celery (celery shoots) was a good take on what can often be a thick-eared classic. The celery shoots were the most intense celery hit one could imagine and that played very well with the rest of the ingredients. We shovelled it up, clashing forks violently.
Tacos with raw tuna and hint of wasabi continued the ‘cold’ theme but the quality of the fish shone through aided by splash of lime and a mayonnaise that glued it all together. This was handy, as while the tacos were shaped and slightly crunchy, the whole lot threatened to disintegrate when bitten. Some finger juggling saved day and we revelled in the fresh flavours and artful simplicity.
Something hot came with excellent crab croquettes on a soft tortilla; we enfolded the croquette in the tortilla’s soft embrace and bit in. Well I did, P decided to be a bit more ladylike and cut her croquette in half to make a more manageable parcel. She ate two of the three, taking advantage of my getting stuck waiting in line for the one bathroom on the roof. ‘It was going cold,’ she said unconvincingly.
We didn’t try the cocktails, herbs apparently picked from the garden, but a decently priced carafe of Barolo did a good job, yes I know you shouldn’t drink red with fish but I’m such a rebel. I don’t know if the plastic glasses supplied were health and safety or ironic picnic, though.
For a last plate we had the ‘cured and smoked’; cherrywood smoked sturgeon, cold smoked salmon and whipped cod. Being something of an enthusiastic cold smoker myself this was also of ‘professional’ interest to me. It was all good, although a bit subtle on the smoke for my taste, and the whipped cod a trifle bland. Fresh flavours all round though.
To end we had the only dessert offered, a Mr Whippy concoction with salt and olive oil; experiential dining crossed with irony I guess you’d call it. It was okay, although the salt was a bit overbearing and I didn’t get to the oil until the end as it was all in a tall glass. I do love Ice Cream van(illa) though so was not unhappy.
I had a quick chat with chef on the way out, he was as cheerdful as could be cooking be in a ‘real’ kitchen and not a campervan, he told me, and enjoying the whole thing enormously. And so will you, with or without sun you’ll be on top of the world.
The roof garden and restaurant is open Thursday to Saturday, midday to 11pm (last entry10pm), midday until 8pm Monday to Wednesday and midday to 6pm Sunday.
The Gardening Society
300 Oxford Street
London W1C 1DX