A topic that comes up in conversation often is the question of what makes a restaurant successful. I’ve heard many suggestions such as location, price, owner involvement, quality, etc. Yet for each suggestion, I can think of several restaurants which don’t have that attribute and are still highly successful. It seems to me it is a combination of things, but some people have a knack for it.
The Madame Zingara guys are an example of this. From their highly successful Madame Zingara’s and Cara Lazuli to the totally revolutionary and well supported Tent of Dreams, these guys have made it happen. Unfortunately Europe was not kind to the Tent of Dreams and it was liquidated. But the Zingara team is back with a new venture, the Bombay Bicycle Club.
This is an example of location not making a difference. This venue is at the top of Kloof St, opposite Baccini’s. This is a good location, but Amigos didn’t make it and Fabulous couldn’t have seen more than 10 diners before it closed. Within a couple of weeks, Bombay Bicycle Club opened as was packed from the first week. I went as part of a big group for a birthday and we had a set menu, so it’s not the best visit to review, but I think I have a good idea of the place.
The nice thing about having the set menu was that we got to sample a whole lot of dishes. For starters they brought us platters of chicken phyllo parcels (R34 – delicious), deep fried camembert (R33 – amazing but not sure if the tomato coulis adds to the dish), tomato tart (R35 – much nicer than it sounds or looks) as well as some lovely carpaccio (not on the menu so can’t tell you the price) and salad (R33). The starters were all so good that we couldn’t stop eating them and were quite stuffed by the time our mains arrived!
This is certainly in contrast to Mesopotamia where we also had the ‘set menu’ except the starters were merely gestures which reminded us how hungry we actually were. For mains we could select between the chicken pasta (R47 – nice but the promised pesto was not evident and the chicken was scarce too), the Ravioli (R48 – very good) or the Gnocci (R46 – a bit stodgy). I opted to pay the surcharge and have the oven roast fillet (R110 – very rich sauce but good steak, I don’t think I’d come to BBC for steak though, the other dishes are more interesting and better value).
As you can see the prices are very reasonable. We ended with the pavlova (R32 – which was fine, not mind blowing) for dessert. This was much to my disappointment because they do have their famous chocolate cigars (R33 – have them!) and I was looking forward to enjoying those as it has been a while.
Service was under a lot of pressure with our large group of unruly diners but they handled fine. I didn’t get a chance to study the wine list but it is quite short and reasonable priced as one might have expected.
There are some things that bugged me, one was the smoking. I don’t know if it was just upstairs where our party was, but it was very smokey. The other thing is that they have packed the tables in there so you end up trying to squeeze past chairs to get anywhere, like the toilet which is an adventure through the back of the restaurant. If you enjoyed the old Zingara, you’ll like the Bombay Bicycle Club, similar buzz and eclectic decor, even some of the same staff.
Bombay Bicycle Club
158 Kloof St, Gardens
021 423 6805