Perched next to the imperious Mandarin Oriental hotel - a whopping great Edwardian behemoth, overlooking Hyde Park like some kind of old-money monolith, Bar Boulud looks dwarfed.
West of the hotel's front-door, Boulud is inconspicuously hidden like a servant's entrance among hedges and six-foot flagstones, only this 'servant's entrance' leads you into one of the finest casual dining experiences in the capital, into the bowels of the 173-room hotel.
The interior was designed by Adam Tihany - a bloke named by New York Times as one of the greatest American interior architects of all time - and you're stunned by the fact that, yeah, this is a bar and restaurant in one of the most exclusive (and expensive) hotels in the country and yet you don't feel out of place. The bar is long and lined with city drinkers trying one of the place's fantastic cocktails (try the espresso martini and thank us later) and the tables are flanked by wooden benches which bely the venue's geography. There are plenty of guys in suits and women in expensive coats - what with this being Knightsbridge and all - but me and a mate rocked up there in denim and casual shoes and weren't meant to feel like social lepers, which was nice. Unexpected and nice.
After sampling a few of the cocktails at the insistence of the maître d', we made our way over to a table in a quiet area of the restaurant having deciding against sampling more of the establishment's wares up the bar. It was early evening on a Monday and the dining area was filling up giving the place a nice buzz.
In the interest of brevity, I'm pretty sure I could accurately sum up five reasons for you to go to Bar Boulud should you ever find yourself in deepest, darkest SW1:
Williams Brothers lager
We were sampling some sausage starters with our beer so we asked the waiter what he recommended, you know, like adults would do, we drink with each plate. They were spot on. The cicerone (which I've just found out is the fancy name for the bloke who chooses the beers, like some kind of really man-of-the-people sommelier) really knew his stuff and the lager we tried first was superb. Perfectly complimenting the strong tasting fancy meats on offer, the Williams Brothers lager on offer was really refreshing, offering a palette cleanse along, a hint of citrus but a hoppy aftertaste to let you know that if you have too many you'd soon know about it.
The Boudin noir sausage
Had you told me a few years ago, when I was a teenager, that I would be revelling in eating a blood sausage I would have told you where to go (with that place being bed because you're clearly off your rocker) but here I am. That's practically just a highfalutin artery, I would've said, and I would've missed out on Boulud's boudin and forever regretted it. With a beautiful texture reminiscent of some properly fancy pâté this worked beautifully with the lager above and I'd probably go back for this one alone. Oh and owner Daniel Boulud regularly pops over from his restaurant at the New York Mandarin Oriental to ensure standards are up to scratch at the London branch, in case you thought this might just be a one-off.
The Somerset sausage
Now you're REALLY talking. A beautiful bit of Somerset pork with a delicious cheddar vein running all the way through it, if I wasn't in such well-heeled company I probably would've smashed the entire thing in my gob like some kind of ground-meat harlot. A slightly messy offering when trying to cut while hiding your palpable glee, the cheesey-pork mayhem that you leave in your wake is well worth it as the tastes are perfectly complimentary and will leave you gagging for more.
Früh Kolsch pilsner
The Germans know how to do three things: produce beautiful women, create tremendous beers and being amazing at everything. A protected mark from Cologne, Früh is light and clean with little aftertaste which means that you can have it with practically everything. How good is that? It's like the Swiss army knife of beers (only its a Swiss army knife that gets you drunk). Refreshing and dangerously easy to drink, it's another that has a hint of subtle citrus and it's cheap too. Prepare the fridge, friends, you're going to wanna pick up a few of these when you get home.
Any seasoned veteran of beer and sausage tasting knows that the human bladder can only take so much before you need to urgently get rid, like a lower-league centre-back. I strolled through the restaurant, past possibly the most beautiful woman I had every seen, with a face that made me almost knock over a passing pensioner, and was met by the most beautiful toilets imaginable. Had someone led me into the bathroom under the pretence that this was actually the restaurant, I would've been like "blimey, this is some fancy-arse place". Hot hand towels and more marble than Chile's General Carrera, had it not been so socially unacceptable, I would've Instagrammed the hell out of it.