It’s strangely ironic in a sense that Buddhism, which has been referred to as “the religion of choice” now has it’s very own bar / restaurant in the heart of Knightsbridge, one of London’s plushest districts. What would the Buddha himself have to say on the matter? Would he eat there? If so what would he order? Perhaps he would mooch about looking at the various statues of himself to establish which is most life like. Then again perhaps not.
The first thing that struck me about Buddha Bar on entering was the darkness. It’s mesmerisingly dark. The tables and floor are dark wood, and lighting is moody, focussing on the sculptural objects. Ambient light as a result is dim by contrast, which they’ve fixed so to speak, with red lighting that creates a hue on your table top, causing food to glow dimly, with a sort of Satanic eeriness. As traditionalist as it may seem, I like to see my food in natural lighting, or something close to it at any rate.
We commenced with bubbles then chose for starters Prawn “Rock Shrimp Style” served with a creamy spicy sauce, and squid, which was prepared similarly. I’m not sure whether to blame myself for ordering something deep fried instead of ordering sushi and sashimi, but I found the dishes both basically satisfactory, just nothing remarkable, although the creamy sauce had a pleasant melange of flavours, in spite of the overriding sensation of oiliness.
Next, we shared English beef fillet with black garlic sauce and truffle mash, alongside steamed red Bream with lemongrass broth and Enoki mushrooms. The steak was pretty damn good, cooked to the perfect temperature and deliciously tender. Neither of us had tried black garlic sauce, and found it had a pleasing depth of flavour. Truffle mash was soft, creamy and easy on the palate. The bream dish was interesting and I felt that it would have been a good dish to eat on a mountainside after a long hike, breathing in fresh mountain air. Its a very delicate, light dish although there is a sourness in the broth that I wasn’t quite sure about. Where we went wrong was in sharing the two dishes between us, as the flavours didn’t compliment each other well.
Service was wonderful, and after the meal we took a walk through the extensive space, to absorb some of the cool and laid back atmosphere it is known for. In essence, the Buddha Bar brand is no doubt a recipe for success as there will always be a market for swanky restaurants with pan-Asian influences, set in premium locations.