Boisdale hold regular wine and food events, so when I was invited to the Boisdale Belgravia and Champagne Dinner with Bollinger event I simply had to go. Boisdale Belgravia was the first Boisdale restaurant to come to London, and it still remains popular and in high demand.
Boisdale captures the essence of centuries of proud tradition with its warmth, informality and end of empire atmosphere, reminiscent of a highland country house. Boisdale is named after the remote port on the beautiful Isle of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, off the northwest coast of Scotland. Boisdale was home to the Macdonalds of Boisdale – the senior cadet branch of the Macdonalds of clanranald, the largest and most anciently royal of all the highland clans. The Boisdale emblem is derived from the family crest – a seal stamped into the molten glass of an 18th century claret bottle found in the vicinity of Castle Tioram, the ancient 13th century home to the Macdonalds of Clanranald. The seal depicts the crest, a hand holding a sword, representing Clanranald’s legendary fighting strength and the family motto in Gaelic “dhandeon co heiragha” which translates as “he who dares wins”.
It is now the well known regimental motto for the SAS, Britain’s elite military fighting unit.
The inside of Boisdale Belgravia is intimate, and oozes the high quality décor and red style you expect. Furnishings are traditional and heavy – thick rugs, oak tables solid well padded seats.
The tasting was presented by Bollinger, with tasting notes and commentary provided, which in turn stimulated conversation amongst the diners. Each Champagne had about 3 minutes of talk, so nothing too onerous, and nothing too scary for people who just wanted to try them – this was not a place for wine snobs, and fortunately, none were there. It was much more friendly and relaxed, people enjoying the meal as well as the fine Champagne.
The set meal to go with the tasting started with Lobster Thermidor which was a generous size and beautifully presented. To complement the Bollinger Champagne, the lobster was cold and only the topping was warm; not the usual way of serving, but it worked well, especially as the quality and size of the lobster meat and claw was very impressive.
With this we sampled the NV Bollinger Rose. Made by adding red wine to NV Bollinger it creates a very smooth but bright wine that is delicate enough to be refreshing and uplifting, but strong enough in taste to work well alongside a white meat.
As ever, the food was up to the usual Boisdale standard, although this was the first time I have been to Boisdale and not eaten one of their world famous steaks. Being a set meal the food was served with vegetables and sauce already applied, but this did not detract from the meal at all (and left more room on the table for the bottles!)
The bottles were left on the table for us to top up our glasses as we wished. this openeness from Bollinger was very generous, but also helped get real discussion going between members about how they saw Champagne and its place alongside food.
The last cousre, cheese and biscuits looked a bit disappointing – none of the branded Boisdale oat biscuits or speciality makes, but the cheese was very fresh and tasty, the Brie being particularly smooth. However, it was reprised by being matched with Bollinger La Grande Annee 2004 Brut, produced by Bollinger only when there is an exceptional harvest . Crisp, bright, full of flavours with fine bubbles. A perfect way to end a meal.
If you want a cigar or whiskey before you go then there is a special smokers terrace, bar and very well stocked cigar cabinet. Boisdale is well famed for making the whole meal an experience to share with friends, and the move from table to bar to cigar deck is as seamless as you want it to be. Overseas visitors clearly enjoy the hospitality that Boisdale is so well known for.
Membership of the Club at Boisdale is £250 – but there is a generous discount for members who choose to attend the special tasting dinners and many of the tastings are free of charge to them. This particular dinner was priced at £39.50 for members (£75 for non members) including all wine and food, which is less than you could get the champagne alone for.
Boisdale of Belgravia
15 Eccleston Street