Buddha Bar. A bar with a Buddha. No expense was spared with marketing teams when naming this pan-asian restaurant and bar. Halal chicken is served here, though I’m unsure if this is upon request only, so please check yourselves if visiting. Alcohol is served.
For any of you who read my posts in the Dentistry section (none of you), you’ll know that Buddha Bar was the venue for our halfway dinner. There was no shortage of second opinions on this occasion. My pre-order included a “Budu” mocktail, prawn and pineapple salad, chilli honey-glazed chicken with sweet potato puree, and a mango panna cotta. Exciting stuff on paper.
First to arrive of course, was the Budu mocktail, consisting of red grape, lime juice, pomegranate juice, and caramel syrup. It was mellow and sweet, with a lovely strong and smooth essence of caramel syrup, which snuck in from the background with each sip before having the final word.
Next came the prawn and pineapple salad which wasn’t quite as impressive. Sitting on a bed of lettuce and cabbage, with the odd carrot shaving thrown in, it was a pretty boring salad, even for salad standards. And those are pretty low standards in a carnivore’s book. The prawns were soft and well-cooked, but ultimately rather bland, whilst the pineapple pieces were far too scarce to add anything substantial to the plate. The dressing (which was supposed to be a sweet chilli), was also far too sour for my liking, and rather overbearing.
Next came the chicken, which also took a little bit of a funny turn. Instead of the sweet potato puree everyone had ordered, the kitchen sent out spinach puree instead. (Initially, I thought my sweet potato puree had developed gangrene).
Overlooking this odd substitution, we tucked in. The chicken breast was soft, tender, and moist in the centre, with a firmer outer skin which had a mildly sticky texture and a lovely sweetness, owing to the honey-glazing. However, whilst the outer section of the chicken was quite flavoursome, the central sections were a little bland, though this wasn’t too much of a bother.
The spinach puree was of a moderately thick and smooth consistency. However, whilst spinach and chicken is usually a great combination, on this occasion, I felt the mellow spinach somewhat overpowered and dampened the chicken, and I think the sweet potato puree would have worked a lot better to complement and enhance the sweetness of the chicken breast. (I promise, I’m not bitter about the sweet potato. Though, taking away a man’s carbs is a dangerous game to be playing with your life expectancy). Meanwhile, the spinach and beetroot that littered the chicken provided some texture contrast to the chicken, with the beetroot providing a third element to the dish with it’s sharp and strong flavour.
Finally came the mango panna cotta, the finale, the piece de la resistance, the great redeemer. Or so I had hoped. Whilst the mango puree that surrounded the panna cotta had a strong and smooth sweetness, the panna cotta itself was rather bland. As for the consistency – well, it wasn’t consistent. The insides of the panna cotta had somewhat curdled, and as a result, the smooth texture on the outside did not follow through the rest of the panna cotta. That said, the mango puree and the sharpness of the carefully placed raspberries helped to salvage the enjoyability somewhat.
All in all, it was a fairly disappointing meal, but then again, formal dinners rarely consist of great food. Mass production never bodes well, especially for consistency. I mean you can take a look at some of my cousins. A lot of them were mass-produced by my aunts and hardly any of them turned out right.
Value for Money: 1/5
Our “meal deal” came to £33 each which was extremely reasonable for a three-course meal and a drink. However, on the regular menu, starters cost around £10, mains anywhere between £20-£50, and drinks around £10-£15. Though for a bar/restaurant in Knightsbridge, this isn’t unreasonable, given the fairly mediocre nature of the food and the minuscule portions, I wouldn’t say Buddha Bar is worth your money. A very nice place for a large social, but in terms of food and drink alone, perhaps look somewhere else.
Staff were very pleasant and friendly, and managed well with our 60-or-so-strong party, though they were a little slow at times. Good hosts nonetheless.
Buddha Bar is very well decorated. Dark-lit with dark-wood furniture, and dynamic lighting that leaves you wondering whether you’ve accidentally taken LSD. A Buddha sculpture also takes residence in the basement dining area, which makes for an interesting sight. Though it’s held up by string which means that every time someone brushes past, it bobs around and everyone screams for an exorcist.
Buddha Bar is located a short 3 minute walk from Knightsbridge station. I don’t need to say that parking may be tricky to impossible to find.
I can’t really make a judgement on the atmosphere during a more regular visit given the fact we were having a 60-strong dinner. But given the fact that we could be ourselves, utilise the dining space as we so desired, and the fact that we had a fantastic night, I’d say Buddha Bar can provide a great atmosphere. (Though I’m sure the atmosphere was almost entirely down to us).
Whilst Buddha Bar is an attractive establishment, it’s food doesn’t live up to the expectations of it’s surroundings. Perhaps the lacklustre meal was simply a result of the large volume of food being made at once, but sadly, Buddha Bar has not qualified for a second visit from me. You are the weakest link. Goodbye.
London SW1X 7PA
Telephone:0203 667 5222