Newest Review: ... was great. There were 32 of us, and it was a bit of a squash, I don't think it could comfortably have seated anymore. If we had though... more
Not Blue at Ruby's
Ruby Blue Bar (London)
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Ruby Blue Bar (London)
Advantages: Good value set meal, excellent location
Disadvantages: Long wait for service, offers nothing special.
I was recently invited to celebrate a friend's milestone birthday at the Ruby Blue bar in London's West End. This bar is in an excellent location, just off of Leicester Square; the front part overlooks the Square and would be a great people-watching spot in the summer.
We arrived at about 6.45pm on a Saturday evening, and walked straight in. There is a doorman but he wasn't worried about us, as it was fairly early, and there were some pretty, scantily glad young girls standing outside smoking who he could chat up. We spotted our friends just inside the bar area and went over to join them, I briefly wondered why they were standing by the draught from the door until we walked down to the main bar area. There is a very long bar down one side but as you approach it you get the rather off-putting smell of vomit. There was no visible evidence, but it seemed a bit early for someone to be over-doing it. Happy Hour is from 5-8pm and we partook of a few half price cocktails (queuing further down the bar, where the smell was less noticeable), the bar part was busy but not yet jam-packed. There were lots of bar staff but as most people were ordering cocktails orders did take a bit longer, but the bar staff seemed efficient, professional and quick at cocktail making.
We had a table booked for 7.30, but for due to people getting last minute drinks in, we didn't really sit down until 8pm. We had a private room upstairs, which I believe is normally a conference room with a large wooden horseshoe table and padded dining chairs. It was situated at the side of the restaurant, and overlooked Leicester Square and the cinemas which was great. There were 32 of us, and it was a bit of a squash, I don't think it could comfortably have seated anymore. If we had thought about it we would have bought our wine at the bar during Happy Hour, but we didn't, so paid £16.95 for a pleasant Pinot Grigio (prices started at £13.50 for the house wines). There were plenty of options across the price ranges as well as quite a broad list of champagnes and sparking wines.
As we were such a large party we had been asked to pre-order our food from a selected menu at a price of £22.95 per head. Although it wasn't as vast as the regular menu, and the more expensive dishes weren't included there was generally a good mix of dishes, with one veggie option per course. Although we were late sitting down, they didn't bring our food until 8.45pm, so we had all worked up an appetite. People were getting fidgety, and slightly annoyed. It's not like we had just ordered, they'd known in advance what they needed to cook. I did notice that all courses arrived at fifteen minutes to the hour, so they obviously used that as their timings, when the food was ready a whole team of waiting staff came in with our dishes and worked the room anti-clockwise bringing the dishes. They all seemed to be correct, although one person didn't get the right steak, cooked as he wanted and that was taken away and rectified promptly. I did think that the wait between courses was a bit too long though.
I ordered tomato and basil soup to start and it was pleasant enough with a bread roll (no butter) on the side. It was nothing to write home about, but was certainly edible. This seemed to be the general consensus with the starters, with the chicken liver pate and chicken Caesar salad selected by my dining companions in the immediate proximity, given the overall verdict of "OK" all round. At this point our wine arrived and the waitress said she would come back to collect payment after we had eaten, which was nice of her. It could all have been added on at the end, but in such a large party we elected to either go to order our drinks at the bar ourselves, or with the waiting staff and paying at the time, keeping issues of unfairly balanced drinks bill out of the equation, and thus no potential of ruining the evening.
At 9.45pm they brought out the main courses. I ordered Wild Mushroom ravioli with fresh herbs, toasted pine kernels and a Boursin cream sauce. I thought it was very nice and managed to eat it all. I don't often manage that with cream based dishes as I find them a bit rich and it can be a struggle, but in this instance I managed to clear my plate. The steaks and burgers generally seemed to be well cooked and the crisp skinned sea bass was pronounced to be very good, with the crisp skin being spot on. I have to say that plates were all empty as they left.
Desserts came at 10.45 and I wasn't sure I really wanted a dessert at this time of night, and was still quite full from my main course. However the desserts were not huge and I managed my three Naughty But Nice Profiteroles quite well. I had picked them as the contained ice cream and the other dessert alternatives were heavy on the whipped cream which I am not a fan of. They were very edible and a good size after a large meal. I have it on good authority that the Eton mess was delicious and its strawberry liqueur sauce being "to die for". Again plates went back empty.
The bar is open until 3am so thee is plenty of opportunity for drinking and dancing until late. I visited the toilets on the first floor and they were cramped but clean with a toilet attendant. She wasn't the most pro-active toilet attendant however handing me only one thin paper towel - I had to finish drying my hands under the hand drier. Of course there were sweeties to buy and perfumes to try if you wished. There is a cloakroom for coats and bags downstairs as you come in, but that is not open until 7.30. It is £2 per coat, but I believe bags are free. There restaurant area was quite large, and there was some live music in the main area - a man singing cover songs - and I don't think we missed much by only hearing him in the distance.
Overall I would recommend this venue as an occasional destination; I wouldn't want to go there too often. I would normally eat and drink more locally, but this is a great central location. If you are in the area and the simple classics on the menu appeal then this is worth a visit. I think the set menu we had represented good value, especially if you had the steak, this compares well with other three course all-in dinner-disco venues I have been to. Purchasing the courses a la carte means that it is more expensive, and in this area there are plenty of places which can offer you something different for less money and it is probably worth shopping around. Saying that, apart from the cocktails and some of the top end wines the drinks were reasonably priced too. If you take into consideration some of the prices in similar places in the West End they are actually quite competitive. I would advise booking, or at least arriving early if you do want to eat.
Summary: Lively venue in the heart of the West End