Gordon Ramsay Restaurant
- Tel: 020 7352 4441
68 Royal Hospital Rd, London, SW3 4HP
12:00 - 14:30
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Recipient of three Michelin stars, Gordon Ramsay is a world renowned chef and owner of several restaurants. Gordon Ramsay is renowned for his fiery temperament and excellent French food - as a consequence you will have to book well in advance (about a month) to be sure of securing a table in his small and intimate restaurant that serves a variety of classic French dishes. They have been awarded 3 Michelin stars, and as such are the only restaurant in London with this accolade.
It was even better than we had hoped. From the first welcome to even being shown the kitchen we were made to feel special at every moment. The only problem is we do not now see the point of ever going to another restuarant as it will not compare, so will have to wait another 12 months to save up again. Thank you
We went for the “menu degustation”. Some of the dishes were very good (eg. Beef Wellington, Panna Cotta).
What we didn’t like :
Globally, we were completely dumbfounded that the Michelin awards 3 stars to this restaurant.
At the time of booking, the restaurant asked for payment by credit card of around £500 as an “advanced booking fee” since we were 5 people. I suspect this is to build up the feeling of booking with a “low-cost airline” that one would expect from Michelin starred establishments.
We were literally rubbing elbows with the people on the table next door. I can understand that Mr. Ramsey likes to maximise the profits on his investment, but is that really what we should expect from a 3 star restaurant?
The service was incredibly slow. The staff were clearly too concerned about those who had come for the lunch menu and had forgotten about others like us who had foolishly opted for the “menu degustation”. This meant that the poor waiters felt they had to fill up our glasses literally after each sip - which as a result was incredibly annoying.
The sommelier was completely disinterested and either didn’t feel like informing us about the wines, or perhaps didn’t know. In any case he was useless.
The “maitre d’hôtel” was not at all genuine, he should take smiling lessons. Furthermore, he told us that the chef could prepare for us a Beef Wellington with truffles as an alternative to the main dish in the menu. Either they forgot the truffles, or the chap was telling tales. That said, the Beef Wellington was very good even without the truffles.
As they had forgotten about us, we were the last to finish our meal at around 4-5pm. It is often the case that when we treat ourselves to 3 star restaurants, meals wind up around 4-5pm so this is usually not a problem. Here, however, it was made very clear that they wanted us to leave – they brought us the bill before we asked for it and they informed us that they needed to prepare the table for the evening. This I have never experienced before in a Michelin 3 star restaurant. Astonishing!
We are big fans of the Michelin Guide, and continue to use it as a reference for other countries. However, the fact that Michelin UK has felt it appropriate to award this Gordon Ramsey restaurant 3 stars for so many years completely discredits their reputation and very much calls into question the rating by the Michelin of other establishments in the capital, if not also elsewhere in the UK.
The truth is that to scythe through 900 reservation requests per day (handled by two full timers with resilient nerves) towards one of only thirteen tables, I had to plan nearly two months ahead. The best they could do even then was 2:10pm. Rather more ‘linner’ than lunch. The Editor of ‘G.Q.’ magazine, Dylan Jones, who seems to prefer anything to editing, suggests that accepting a late lunch in an A-list haunt is tantamount to ‘…touching Scarlett Johansen’s breast, but only when she’s asleep, and only when no one’s watching…’ In all honesty, only our Welsh taxi driver seemed bothered by the belated hour of the booking, buttressing his opinion of “lunch is at 1pm!” through the perspex partition. In fact we used our spare time to visit another Ramsay enterprise just down the Royal Hospital Road.
The much-maligned ‘Foxtrot Oscar’ loiters behind a sexy black canopy. It shines like baby-oiled latex. Inside, almost everything is wipe-cleanable. A distant radio ricocheted through the dark floored, pocked ceilinged space. Dramatic, high contrast portraits punctuate walls decorated with wide turquoise fringed verticals. Whilst we only stopped for flutes of Ayala Champagne (of ‘Trust House Forte’ fame, recently revitalised by Bollinger) and a bowl of fruity bread boomerangs, what I saw looked agreeable. The story goes that the chefs from the main attraction used to come down here, to come-down, following service.
Outside, turn left, and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is discreet, discernible only by a signed slate. Inside, all is star-bright, glamorous and fresh. Along the corridor, full-length mirrors echo apertures into the square dining room. This culminates in a modestly sized lounge: textured leather sofas, gold leaf recesses, strokeable walls, and spiky chandeliers. It feels like the waiting room to a private dentist.
The same Champagne served down the road puts on four pounds here, albeit served in crystal with blanched almonds that are neatly in harmony with the overall colour scheme.
The picture-less dining room is pretty: a collage of various shades of ivory, with plain, comfortable chairs parked upon deep, fuselage grey carpet. Cream roses rise from sheer vases. Tables are double-clothed. It only just avoids resembling a wedding breakfast.
A prominent British critic once described Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants, from Dublin to Dubai, as being occupied by an identikit mingle of hushed, middle-class, middle-aged, middle-incomed couples stunned to be lucky enough to have triumphed reservations. That has not been my experience at the half a dozen I have ventured into. From tables of women in Burkhas to well-oiled octogenarians, the atmosphere is convivial. Conversations are had continuously, at normal volume.
At Royal Hospital Road, a lady sported a dashing hat. A lank gent braved bureaucracy by wearing jeans. Only my father and I appeared to wear ties. Excepting the elegant lady - and at the risk of sounding like an aspiring cholestosaurus - I lament this loss of decorum. This is a three star restaurant, thirteenth best in the world at last count. Is it too much for a chap to shave (also advisable for some women), bathe and generally beautify himself for a day?
The Maitre’d enquired "Who will be hosting the table?" - an amusing but shrewd gesture to which I volunteered. The menu opened with a watercolour of a younger Ramsay. We were presented with three options: a la carte, tasting menu and the set lunch. I had enticed my father with the promise of the comparatively affordable latter. And now I piled on the pathos, indicating what an adventure it would be to give the place a thorough test drive. Without too much difficulty, we swerved into the Menu Prestige. "Just don’t think about the bill" I counselled, "I will pay the lighter half".
A pungent passenger was presented from a kind of humidor. Apparently it was the largest white Alba truffle in London. Nestling between four subjects, the Buddha of the tuber world and ‘diamond of the kitchen’ (Brillat-Savarin) looked like a sleeping baby. Friends I since sent the picture to described it as ‘something from a Victorian operating table’ which might ‘look better placed on the elephant man’s head’. Either this could be shaved for a fee, or the mattress of preserving rice could render risotto remarkable. The dramatic waft was free, however.
An amuse bouche, arranged ‘especially for us’ featured chilled scallop tartare with tiny black pearls of explosively far-reaching caviar. This was flooded at table with tepid essence of broccoli which transcended the original brassica. Rosemary flecked potato bread was cottony, uplifting and absorbent. Butter was almost tear-salted.
I liberated the last bottle of Clos Poggiale ’05, a vibrant Vermentino from Corsica. It was incisor sharp: granite in a glass with warm garrigue herbs gusting from within.
Pressed, almost Genoese banded Foie Gras with smoked duck came aboard a petrified Madeira consommé. This was overly conceited in my opinion. And the actual foie was slightly underwhelming, especially when compared to another culinary sanctuary like Le Gavroche (or even Le Caprice). Colourful, slender pickles included a curled tongue of carrot. A port reduction looked as if it had been applied with a ruler. The compilation tasted (and looked) symmetrical. In fact a feature of the meal, from attention to portion size and timing was well-judged balance.
A raviolo choc-full of fleshy lobster, tangy langoustine and supple, velvety salmon was crested with tomato chutney formed into a membrillo like paste. This was jabbed by a dried basil leaf. Moisture removed, the flavour of the leaf was made more poignant.
Every time we left a breadcrumb on the linen, a silver comb landed to cleanse our tablecloth.
A fillet of bright tasting Turbot was finely flavoured with a joyously luxuriously, supple texture. Tracing paper of black truffle nudged a soft spun linguine bale bathing within a musky, cep velouté. The Maitre’d reeled off a little history lesson – this dish has been aboard the menu since Ramsay left Aubergine in ‘98. Its indefatigability is not simply attributable to nostalgia, however. As Martial said ‘however great the dish that holds the turbot, the turbot is still greater than the dish…’
I headed for the loos only to have a member of staff dive in front of me to open the padded door. Rather Walter Raleigh. Soon after, my father tried to outwit them, choosing a rare moment where there were fewer staff to hand. The home team still won, however. “One day I’ll get there before you do,” my father warned. Incidentally, I noted a little message carved by the flush. It read ‘Sir G.R. woz ere’.
The road forked for the following course. My tender roast pigeon from chicken capital, Bresse came with a crispy sandwich of grilled polenta, glycerous smoked pork belly and a nutty, glossy concentrated date sauce. The overall aftertaste, a bravura of game, oozingly luxurious pork grease and very posh, lustrous gravy juices stays with me still. A robust, rested, Malbec, which sounds more like a planet than a grape came from Cahors. It added dark, earthy, absorbent tannins.
My father had a Cannon of Cornish lamb which was pinkly centred, with confit shoulder, cossetting ratatouille and a sparky thyme ‘jus’. Appealing, although I was smug in my superior selection.
The cheese cart pulled up next, wheeled in by the deputised mouse with nouse. The fact it constituted a supplementary charge left a slightly disagreeable aftertaste. My father asked whether anyone had ever requested a little of every morsel (there must be no fewer than 57 varieties hectically packed aboard). She said that a gent did once, although he backed down when she informed him that he would have to eat every last wedge. My favourite was a Corsican goat’s, which is apparently very high in protein. It was quiet on the nose, moistly textured, but firm and powerful in its brackish flavours. Bread baked specifically for cheese and a gallion of crackers marshalled, along with crisply skinned Muscat grapes.
The dessert (minor) was a witty prank: a mango and passion fruit soup, with lychee and coconut, drawn through a clear straw. Little eruptions ensued: ‘Fizz-wizz’ popping candy had been layered into the cocktail...
My father suggested that the dessert (major) should be framed. A cylinder infilled with softness: cooling, cleansing ginger mousse, very cold milk ice cream and lagoons of blackcurrant cut into – intentionally or otherwise – the shape of a cockerel.
Cutlery replaced for the final time, we were invited on a guided tour of the tight, hectic - but ordered - kitchen, where a minimum of 18 chefs cook at Michelin’s zenith. A catwalk of recessed blue lights line the floor. A little natural light percolates too. Our guide opened a wine fridge and asked which bin we would like as a souvenir (and then reneged rapidly).
On our return, we were elegantly moved to the lounge for coffee so they could freshen the dining room (we were, as usual, the final diners). Creases were steamed out of tablecloths, silver cutlery and charger plates were polished. Roses were spruced and sprayed with a little mist, beautified for the evening performance. A silver tree bore an unconventional fruit of silvered truffles. Dry ice dramatically overspilled a drum of strawberry truffles.
At only 30, Head Chef, Clare Smyth had steered us through a balanced and entertaining procession of plates. At times they were wry. It may sound sexist, but I could detect an alluring femininity in her dishes.
When I eventually returned home I was told (without irony) that I looked like I had lost weight. This unequivocally serves to prove that lunching at linen is by far the best exercise...
As former bankers replace silver forks for long handled shovels – to deal with a prolonged period of gardening leave – I wholeheartedly recommend mere mortals try their luck securing a table at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Perhaps in time they will consider doing a higher purchase lunch? -And only then can I return...
The whole experience was totally fabulous. From the (of course) incredibly gorgeous food to the "always there but invisible" service to the Maitre d' leading the singing of happy birthday!
We got to visit the kitchen which was a geat experience and the chef took time to explain in a lot of detail how a dish was made.
I have no idea how they get such flavours out of food. I remember eating tomato jelly which was one of the pre-starters - I think my eyes popped out of my head when pure essence of tomato exploded in my mouth! How do they do that??
If you can afford it, and you love love love food, you HAVE to go! Save up or rob a bank but GO!
"I hope so!" I quipped back, but maybe there was a bad line because she didn't seem to find it as funny as I did. To be fair to her though, dining at Ramsays Royal Hospital Road probably isn't something to be blasé about, as we had been trying to get a reservation at this particular restaurant, on and off, for about 3 years. So you can imagine that, during this time, its status as the pinnacle (or at least one of the pinnacles) of international haute cuisine had been built up in my mind to the extent that if we had arrived to the sound of angels trumpeting and rose petals being strewn in front of us as we got out of the taxi, we probably just would have assumed that this is part of what people had been making such a fuss about over all these years.
The place does make quite an impression as you arrive though - lots of mirrors and glass, lots of staff, and an atmosphere of a kind of hushed awe, almost as if all the other diners couldn't quite believe they'd managed to get a reservation either. It's all quite overwhelming at first, not least because each member of staff seemed to take turns serving everyone - a different person greeted us at the door, said hello inside, took our coats, led us to the table, served an aperitif, gave us menus and took our wine and food orders. That's about 8 or 9 different people to say hello to within 10 minutes of arriving. Perhaps they each just didn't want to be typecast as 'the coat guy' or 'the menu guy', but the effect was quite disconcerting.
Well then, the food. Canapés were a fois gras and truffle mousse, and a taramasalata with poppy seed crackers and potato crisps. Pretty but nothing extraordinary, which maybe is the point of canapes.
Once we arrived at the table however, things got a lot more interesting. Amuse-bouches consisted of a 'Cornetto' of somethingorother (yes I know I should have taken notes, or at least made an effort to remember, but this is my first blog so be kind), which was lovely, and little cheesey balls covered in breadcrumbs on a green pesto. These were, well, as you would expect - they tasted like cheese and breadcrumbs on pesto, but I don't suppose there's anything wrong with that.
After that, another pre-starter the waiter took great pleasure in describing as a Full English Breakfast. This was quite clever - a bit of lovely spicy sausage meat on a spoon, which after you'd eaten the meat you could use to attack the egg, which was a kind of bacon mousse (I think) on top of lovely creamy scrambled eggs, on top of (a fantastic little surprise) Ramsay's own version of Heinz beans at the bottom of the eggshell. Then that big "bacon" thing which looked impressive but actually just tasted like hard baked bacon rind. You have to admire their ingenuity though.
Finally, the proper starter arrived. This was English snails with vegetables and basil leaves surrounded by celeriac puree and jerusalem artichoke sauce. I've had snails before in various places in Spain and France, usually more out of a sense of "when in Rome" or bravado than actually wanting to eat the things, but these were gorgeous. Earthy and sweet, with a good firm texture and a distinctive taste, and the artichoke sauce worked perfectly. Interesting to note, however, that although this dish was listed unapologetically as "English Snails" on the menu, they still felt the need to describe another dish as "Pied de Cochon". Perhaps the pork wasn't British (I hope not), or perhaps the full horror of Pigs Trotters is too much for delicate British diners just yet (more likely).
Now I have to admit - I always get pigeon when I see it on the menu. I've had it done a few different ways - whole, French rustic style at the Anchor & Hope in Waterloo, or a more fancy interpretation at the Square in Mayfair, and I've never been disappointed. So when I saw it listed at Ramsays (wrapped in fois gras and parma ham) I thought "I always get pigeon, I always like it, but I always get it. I should try something different this time" and found myself ordering the John Dory. A friend got pigeon. When the mains arrived, lovely though the John Dory was (though perhaps a tad on the dry side), all I could do was stare with miserable envy at my dining companion's pigeon. The fish was good though, served on what they called sun-dried tomatoes but actually tasted just like very tasty fresh tomatoes, and cornish crab. With it were two little tortellinis of (I think) caviar, which had the most incredible flavour, and roast fennel. To my companion's credit, he let me taste a bit of his pigeon. It was perfect. I should have had the pigeon.
Pre-dessert a cocktail glass full of some sort of palette cleanser arrived. It was nice - I think - but clearly nothing memorable as I have completely forgotten what was in it. All I remember is that it smelt slightly offputtingly of cottage cheese.
Dessert was apple and champagne sorbet with a very creamy ice-cream and bitter chocolate base. Very tasty - particularly the ice cream which was some of the best I've ever had, almost buttery-rich. Not much else to say about this... sorry I'm sure it's a supreme example of its kind but I've never been much of a pudding person. My companion's Tarte Tatin was incredible though, caramely and decadent with a perfect pastry.
Things ended quite theatrically. A selection of chocolate truffles with a pearly coating (I've had these before at Ramsays Claridges) arrived impaled on a little silver 'tree' and looked very pretty indeed.
Some strawberry ice cream balls covered in white chocolate tasted great, and came in a jar bathed in dry ice spilling over the edges of the container like a special effect from a cheap horror B-movie. And finally turkish delight, which was disconcertingly fluffy, almost to the extent that you couldn't feel it in your fingers, but tasted good.
The damage? £155 each, which obviously is a lot by the standards of your average restaurant but seemed more than reasonable for the effort that had gone into the food. This amount included a fair selection of champagne, wines and dessert wine and we didn't feel like we'd held back on this front, so it all seemed quite fair. It’s also worth pointing out that even though we’d ordered the cheaper(!) £85 a la carte menu rather than the £110 Menu Prestige, if you add up all the amuse-bouches and canapés it comes to about 8 courses. As an extra little treat, we were invited by a very friendly waiter called Bernard to have a quick peek at the kitchen, where GR's executive chef Mark Askew held fort. The kitchen was a lot smaller than I'd expected and there hardly seemed any room for the hundreds of chefs packed in there, but it was fascinating to see them all beavering away.
And there we have it. Much of the food was cooking of the very highest order, but is it enough to tempt me back in a city that includes so many other great restaurants? And was it really worth a 3-year wait? If nothing else, it's an albatross off my back and at least I can say I finally made it, I finally ate there. But I'm not going to start queuing up again just yet.
Almost everything was absolutely perfect. The food, the staff, the wine.
The cheese was unbelievable, every single one of them was perfectly riped.
This is an absolute must, but best take a big wallet
Ramsey was a great Chef and is now a great restaurateur !
Enough praise though in the world of 3 Michelin stars he has not manged in my humble opinion to reach the heights of MPW in his heyday ( sad to see him promoting Knorr stock cubes) Nico Ladenis or indeed Pierre Koffman's La Tante Claire in the same site.
The secret of extracting this much money so willingly from diners is the way in which every diner is treated as the most important table in the room. Whether you choose the gastronomic heights of the tasting menu at £115, or stick to the astonishingly good value set lunch menu at £40, the attention is just the same. Service is very French - lots and lots of immaculate waiters shimmer up to do everything from taking your order to bringing you the truffle of the day to admire - but you never feel 'bothered', and staff can read tables well. If you want the full flourishing experience, it's yours; if you'd prefer a lower-key meal, you'll barely notice the magical way plates appear and disappear.
And the details! The explosion of flavours in the amuse bouches, the strawberry ice cream chocolates on a cloud of dry ice, the little silver tree of truffles... Admittedly, options on the set menu are limited if you're a veggie, but that's about the only drawback I can think of.
My boyfriend and I reward ourselves with lunch here as often as we can persuade ourselves we really deserve a treat. It might end up costing the same as a cheap European minibreak, after he's had a go on the astonishing winelist, but by the time we leave, Chelsea has taken on a rosy glow that makes us feel as if we ARE abroad. In short: the most expensive place we eat at in London, but the only one that I come out of feeling it's been money well spent.
I dined with my wife and two friends. Two of us ate one tasting menu and the others had a different one allowing us to consume some 25 or so dishes. I am really struggling to find a way to convey just how good it all was. At times I thought I might be dreaming and had to pinch myself to make sure it was all happening. The balls of strawberry ice-cream coated in white chocolate arrived at the table with dry ice spilling all over the place, adding to my dream theory.
The service was fantastic. They knew all our names and charmed us all night. We even met Mr Ramsay who chatted with us and was very funny. A tour of the immaculate kitchen followed and by the end of the whole experience I was wondering if anything I would eat in the future would ever be that good again.
For full review, please see: http://wp.me/pwXBH-Ha
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay – The Royal Treatment
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay – Royal Hospital Road provided us with a highly enjoyable and satisfying evening. The food was mostly classic in nature and nearly all of the numerous dishes we ordered were executed with a fine precision, with a few bits of fun thrown in for good measure. The service is simply extraordinary, and we were treated like regulars even though it was our first visit. The young Head Chef, Clare Smyth, is clearly talented, and it will be interesting to see how she develops over the coming years. It’s easy to see why people like eating here: its formula is tried & tested, but it works.
Driving to hospital
So, first of all: a little apology.
I’ve been busy recently: busy working, busy eating, busy drinking (wine mostly), but not busy writing blog posts about what I’ve been eating (or about the wine I’ve been drinking).
In any case, my parents were in town a few months back, in the heart of what then seemed like London’s everlasting darkness, and I wanted to plan a special meal while they were here. Given that, at the time, there was only one 3-starred Michelin restaurant in central London and that we hadn’t made it there yet, I thought it was high time to pay Gordon Ramsay’s flagship outfit a visit. (Since then, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester has been elevated to 3 stars as well).
While it has become easier to book lunch at Restaurant Gordon Rasmsay – Royal Hospital Road (RHR) in Chelsea, due to the fact that you can reserve a table directly on their website, it is far more difficult securing a dinner reservation, and thus I made mine approximately two months in advance. The difficulty likely stems from the fact that RHR is a very small venue, with only about 12-14 tables in total, and also due to the obvious factors of it holding 3 Michelin stars for years and being the pinnacle of Mr. Ramsay’s little (well, shrinking) restaurant empire.
A few other tidbits to note about the restaurant: it is one of the few remaining places requiring men to don jackets for dinner; it is only open Monday to Friday (so don’t think on planning a special occasion on a Saturday or Sunday there); and, of course, Gordon is not usually there himself (though he does make appearances). Since 2007, the kitchen has been run by Head Chef Clare Smyth, a very pleasant young lady in her early 30’s and one of the few women to run a 3-étoiles establishment.
Entering Ramsay’s world
As readers of this blog will probably know, I have been to a lot of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants, both in the UK and the US – when Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) still ran them – and I have generally been impressed with the quality of the food and service levels. Sure, there have been the odd fumbles and occasional disappointments, and they are not generally given to the most creative and inventive style of modern high-end cooking (though a few try to do this; I’m looking at you Maze), but overall I haven’t had all that much to complain about within GRH establishments.
Poor old Gordon has gotten it quite bad from the British press over the last year, and he’s certainly out to makeover his public image (having recently done the same for his face) and reinvent himself, both of which I suppose were inevitable given the nature of the British press and his own personality. I have to say that I do have a lot of respect and admiration for the man’s drive, ambition and achievements. Whatever you want to say about his restaurants, their finances or his diction, he certainly created a lot out of very humble beginnings and has both directly and indirectly helped to regenerate and re-energize the movement towards better food in Britain over the last decade or so. But enough about the big man himself, as he wasn’t in the kitchen during our meal.
Mrs. LF and I drove my parents to the restaurant and were graciously greeted and shown through the little hallway to a small bar which serves as a holding area for the restaurant. The entrance is funny because there are slits in the wall to your left, behind which lies the dining room. Some of these slits are mirrored on the side and some are compeltely empty, so you’re not actually sure if you’re looking into the dining room or not (you are). Anyway, after a little kafuffle over the position of our table (my father is even more particular then moi when it comes to table choice) – which the staff handled effortlessly – we had arrived and were ready to get this show on the road, or on the table as it may be.
Speaking of the table, I have to say it was a beautiful little arrangement. There were fresh flowers on each table (and in the bathrooms), as well stunning modern lanterns with blue flames and luxurious tablecloths and cutlery. It is really a tiny room, but it doesn’t feel crowded and it isn’t loud. And it is one of the few restaurants in London that doesn’t have ANY background music, which is a godsend in and of itself.
We were shown the menus on offer, of which there is a 3-course à la carte, a 5-course seasonal, and 7-course tasting (‘Prestige’) menu at dinner time. But of course at these prices, and with its reputation, there are many other little treats awaiting you before, after and in-between your main dishes. Consensus dictated the 3-course menu and we all eventually agreed on what everyone else would order :).
As we were deciding all of this, the exceedingly lovely Maître d’, Jean-Claude, presented their quite impressively sized Périgord truffles within a wooden box that looked like it could have doubled as a jewellery display case.
We were brought a good selection of breads, of which I liked the sourdough the best. I was a little surprised to see Poilâne on offer, as I figured a restaurant of this caliber would bake all of its own bread, but it is always good (we get it fresh from Waitrose as our mainstay bread for breakfast), so it wasn’t the end of the world! The butter, which was presented in beautiful cone shapes that reminded me of bee hives was excellent (salted and unsalted were provided), as you’d hope it would be.
Amuse Bouche 1: Basil Encrusted Potato Crisps
Then the food began arriving, and it kept on coming. The first teaser was an elaborately presented row of very thin fried potatoes. Encased within in each was a line of basil, which added a nice herbaceousness. I also detected a hint of cheese (most likely parmesan). I thought it ironic to start off such a luxurious meal with what were essentially crisps, but they were damn good ones.
Amuse Bouche 2: Cornets of Crab & Avocado
The second amusement in Ramsay’s culinary park was a cornet of crab and avocado, again fancily presented on a silver vessel. It was a very fresh, zesty and slightly creamy yet light morsel which went down a treat.
Amuse Bouche 3: Pumpkin Soup with Raviolo of Duck Confit, Truffle, Mushroom & Purée of Celery
A waiter explained that the last of the three amuse bouches was a seasonal one. A single raviolo was presented all by its lonesome inside a beautiful, shallow white bowl with wide-rimmed edge and then a bright orange pumpkin soup was poured carefully around it. The presentation was simple yet striking. The soup itself had a wonderful consistency (it was thick but not too much so) and also a real depth of pumpkin flavor. It married well with the raviolo, of which the delicious, slightly salty and crispy duck stood out nicely, with the vegetables playing their supporting roles well.
I would give the three opening dishes a score of 8.5 overall as they were cute, fun and had very good flavor and seasoning running throughout. They made an enjoyable start to the meal.
Starter 1: Ravioli of Lobster, Langoustine & Salmon Poached in a Light Bisque with a Lemongrass & Chervil Velouté
My mother and I opted to start off the meal with one of Gordon’s signature dishes. It has featured on the restaurant’s menu forever and I was really excited to see what one of the top dishes from such a famous chef would be like. It arrived sans sauce, and then the waiters poured the velouté onto the base of the shallow bowl (note: it was a different shallow bowl from the previous one housing the pumpkin soup, and was part of the Gordon Ramsay Royal Doulton collection from Wedgwood (I know, you were gagging for that little pearl).
Anyway, I have to say that I thought it looked rather odd, sort of like a brain vacuum-packed inside a thin covering of soft homemade pasta. When pierced, an abundance of seafood was revealed. It was all moist, flavorsome and fresh, and the sauce’s rich creaminess and lemongrass hint provided a nice coating (it wouldn’t have hurt to have a dash more sauce). But the idea of stuffing it all so tightly in inside the pasta seemed strange, as it appeared to be more naturally suited to the world outside the ravioli. The pasta itself was very good, but it was as if it was not really part of the dish and just got in the way more than anything. Overall, I thought it was a pleasant but pretty average dish for a restaurant of this level and I was let down by the fact that this was ostensibly one of the ‘best’ dishes that Gordon could create. I have no doubt it had been executed faithfully by the kitchen, but the overall effect for me was rather muted. 7/10.
Starter 2: Linguine with Shaved Périgord Truffles
Mrs. LF went for one of the simple specials, which was a linguine pasta dish served with a little bit of sauce and sprinkled (quite generously) with the Rolls Royce of French black truffles, those ginourmous globes from Périgord that had been presented in a royal box a bit earlier. It looked fantastic.
Mrs. LF described her dish as such: “The linguini were al dente and had been cooked perfectly. And I prefer linguine to tagliatelle for this type of dish, as I find the latter to be too flat and lack a bit of bite in texture. The buttery sauce was somehow light (not like the significantly heavier version we had at Michel Rostang in Paris a few years ago in the exact same dish) and each bite was fabulous; you just wanted to come back for more. The Périgord truffles were nutty and sooo good. But I remained quiet eating my dish, careful not to over-promote it too much as I wasn’t willing to share it with even one, let alone tree other, gourmets! :) 9/10.
Starter 3: Pan-fried Sea Scallops from the Isle of Skye with Leek & Pancetta Ballottine, Sage Gnocchi & Caper Beurre Noisette
My father had opted for a dish which sounded very appealing to me, the pan-fried sea scallops. It also arrived bare, and the waiter poured the little beurre noisette over it. It was a very attractively presented plate. The scallops were large, meaty, sweet and perfectly cooked, and I thought all of the flavors worked well together. There was no rocket science going on here (nor any vegetal rocket either), but each element was executed precisely and gelled effortlessly. No fireworks, but very solid cooking. 8/10.
2004 Lafon Meursault, Burgundy
My father had kindly allowed me to choose the first wine of the meal, with the only caveat being that it should be “within reason.” His “within reason” can be bent slightly when it comes to wine, so I was able to get away with ordering one of the top white Burgundies on offer, a Lafon 2004 Meursault. It was divine, and did everything a Meursault should do for me. It was rich, complex and opulent, with a vivid streak of citrus and lively minerality. It also just happened to go very nicely with the seafood starters, as I had hoped it would. I think the rather pronounced acidity came from the fact that it was still quite young, as I would guess it would age well for another 5-8 years. It wasn’t ludicrously overpriced for a 3-starred restaurant as the mark-up seemed to be just under 2x the retail price (other wines were marked up much more, however).
Extra ‘Middle Course’ for the Table: Pressed Foie Gras with Peppered Madeira Jelly, Smoked Duck, Rhubarb & Walnut Crumble
Me being me, I had coerced the family into opting for an additional ‘middle-course’. And I can proudly say that this was a good decision. The pressed foie gras dish was superb, and by far the best one of the meal at this stage, in my humble opinion. It was daintily presented and while there were no huge leaps of faith flavor-wise, I thought it had a nice little flair of creativity about it. The foie gras itself was exceptional – smooth, rich and deep – and it was complemented splendidly by the thin layer of Madeira icing, the sharp notes of rhubarb, the sweet crumble and the smokiness of the little parcels of wrapped duck. The accompanying toasted brioche was also excellent and overall it was a flawless dish which I was very happy to devour. If Gregg Wallace had been there, he might have remarked, “Foie gras doesn’t get any better than this.” 10/10.
1999 Chateau Coutet, Sauternes
As this had turned into quite an indulgent meal (hey, we were celebrating a number of different occasions, and it’s rare to have my parents in London), we decided to have a glass of Sauternes each to go with the foie gras. It was a terrific one: tons of ripe honey on the nose and very round and broad in the mouth, with some orange and floral notes, and a good deal of length. We ordered this extra wine on the spur of the moment just before the foie gras was to arrive, and had I thought about it earlier and more clearly, it probably would have made sense (at least financially) to get a half-bottle of a top Sauterne (I always dream of Yquem…) for around the same price as the glasses had cost us, but I wasn’t too disappointed.
Main Course 1: Roasted Fillet of Line Caught Turbot with Langoustines, Linguine & Wild Mushrooms
My main course of turbot was again simply but beautifully constructed, with the fish resting on a bed of linguine and surrounded by langoustines, a few greens and wild mushrooms, underneath which laid a splashing of sauce. The fish itself was cooked very well, allowing the delicacy of the turbot to shine through. Although not the most obvious accompaniment, the strands of pasta actually worked quite well with the fish and were perfectly cooked, as they had been in Mrs. LF’s starter. The langoustines were sweet and there was a nice rich fishiness running through the sauce. The wild mushrooms themselves were excellent and were one of my favorite things on the plate. The portion size was very generous and it was a straight-forward but excellent dish that had again been cooked to an exacting standard. 8/10.
Main Course 2: Roasted Loin of Monkfish with Chorizo Cous Cous, Baby Squid, Artichoke & Spiced Tomato Jus
Of her main course, Mrs. LF commented: “Sometimes it is difficult to remember what you ate, especially after a few months or so, but as soon as I saw some photos of it, all the flavours came rushing back into my mind. My monkfish dish was really excellent. All of the ingredients that had been gathered together managed to create a near-perfect balance, both in taste and texture. The chorizo cous cous with the spiced tomato jus energized the monkfish as well as my taste buds. I wish there had been a little more of the sauce, but I am sure that it was a case of asking the waiter for more, and it would have been provided to me. The Mediterranean touch brought warmth and an unpretentious quality to this lovely dish.” 9/10.
Main Course 3: Aged Casterbridge Beef Fillet with Fondant Potato, Ox Cheeks, Bone Marrow, Braised Root Vegetables & Red Wine Jus
My father had been naughty and opted for the richest-sounding dish of all the main courses. It looked quite stunning on the plate, but may have been a bit ambitious if you weren’t too hungry by this stage
The service was so good that I feel bad to leave only the 12.5% tips they put on the bill! We live in the US and I am more than happy to tip 20+% for this kind of great service!
Is 100+ pound a la carte menu a good value? I think so. Just imagine how many Friday night drinking you need to forgo before able to afford one Gordon Ramsay meal! Not that many, really! So treat yourself, at least once a year.
However, Ramsay is the best place I have ever eaten - period. I can see why it's got those three little Michelin stars. I went with eight mates for a 40th Birthday treat. We had to have the tasting menu. Eight courses of delight followed! My taste buds have never thanked me so much. The wine list was reasonable too with some good finds for not too much, although there were one or two that I would have needed a second mortgage to even have considered. For the experience and the fact that we were treated like royalty for over four hours, I thought the £160 a head bill was very reasonable. If only I could afford to eat here more often.......
Do yourself a favour and try it, just the once, you will not be disappointed.