Sunday, 21 July 2013

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Bouquets are okay and candy is dandy but nothing says 'Happy Anniversary' to a foodie like a fabulously indulgent three-course lunch at Gordon Ramsay's flagship restaurant in Chelsea. One of only two restaurants in London (and only four in the UK) to hold three Michelin stars, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is headed up by partner Chef Patron Clare Smyth, 2013 Good Food Guide Chef of the Year and recent MBE.

Unassuming at first glance and quietly elegant within, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is situated on Royal Hospital Road, just around the corner from the Chelsea Physic Garden. The recently refurbished dining area is intimate and unfussy and I was relieved to find myself in varied company, having feared an entire roomful of CEOs and Chanel-clad ladies who lunch. In fact, the ambience was relaxed and genuinely welcoming - unlike the starchy self-importance of some other 'top' restaurants.

Greeted and seated, we decided to go with the impressive set lunch menu - considering the location, actually pretty good value at £55 per person.  The first indication of three-star status was the seamlessly professional and utterly charming maitre d' Jean-Claude; think of a conductor directing an entire orchestra of highly-trained musicians with the tiniest flick of a baton or raised eyebrow. His staff ensured we were settled quickly, checking on drinks, any allergies or dislikes and whether it was a special occasion within minutes of us arriving at the table and he personally welcomed every guest with genuine warmth. Our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable, happy to discuss ingredients and preparation methods as we placed our order. We were then brought an amuse bouche of pea and mint mousse with ricotta and baby vegetables which was fabulous; light but absolutely full of flavour and a lovely summery start to the meal.

For the first course I had the tartlet of confit salmon, shaved fennel, radishes, grilled piquillo pepper, quail's egg, rocket and basil, while my companion had the lobster, asparagus and herb tortellini with broad beans, tomato and lobster consommé. If the first bite is with the eye, my first bite of the tartlet was sensational. It was beautifully presented, a larger portion than I had expected (for a sense of actual proportions in the photograph, think about the size of a quail's egg) and delicious from start to finish; a perfect mix of fresh, delicate seasonal flavours. I nabbed a bite of the tortellini, which was also excellent - get used to meal envy here, because you're going to have a real pang every time you see a plate set in front of somebody else.

At the risk of stating the obvious for a Michelin-starred restaurant, the wine list is extensive and not cheap; prices run to four figures. On the more unexpected side, the Head Sommelier (and 2012 UK sommelier of the year) is younger than you might expect and, despite his obvious passion for wine, was refreshingly unintimidating and non-judgemental about us deciding against a bottle and ordering instead the £6 glasses of Bordeaux Blanc sec - which, incidentally, was really good. The selection of breads - sourdough, bacon and onion brioche, wheaten and pretzel - was excellent, readily replenished and served with a choice of salted or unsalted butter.

For our mains we had the miso glazed cod with black quinoa, squid, grilled shiitake mushrooms and lapsang souchong broth, and the roasted rabbit loin with Bayonne ham, salted baked turnips, toasted hazelnuts and pickled mustard seed. Again, these were as beautifully presented as they were delicious, with the individual flavours coming together perfectly; our waiter served the broth at the table, encouraging me to smell it first to appreciate the smoky subtlety. I finished my glass of wine and idly wondered how long it would take a member of staff to notice and offer another. The answer? Forty seconds.


Dessert was roasted pineapple with coriander financiers (tiny French almond cakes), coconut sorbet and vanilla cream for me and banana parfait, peanut butter mousse and bitter chocolate sandwich with caramelised bananas for my companion. These were both wonderful, although I don't really have a sweet tooth; if I hadn't been starting to feel quite full, I would have been almost homicidally jealous of the diner at the next table who ordered the cheese. Available at a small supplement, the cheese trolley selection looked and smelled as good as any I have seen in France and was served with a range of accompaniments from grapes to breads and oatcakes.


Coffee ordered, extremely happy with the fabulous food and outstanding customer service, and starting to feel a little regretful that this remarkable experience was drawing to a close, I caught a glimpse of something spectacular being placed on a nearby table. A lidded silver dish was uncovered to oohs and ahs, and a theatrically billowing cloud of dry ice. Before I could question a passing waiter, the same dish arrived at our table; it was four bite-size balls of strawberry ice cream encased in white chocolate. These were swiftly followed by a glass tray of the most delicately rose-flavoured turkish delight and rich chocolate ganache, on tiny cake servers to avoid those pesky cocoa stains. Yes they really do think of everything.

As if that wasn't enough, we then had a delectable chocolate truffle dessert, complete with single candle, discreetly delivered to the table as a gift for our celebrations. A wonderful touch - but the best was yet to come. Maitre d' Jean-Claude approached the table, leaned close and whispered the question every foodie wants to hear: 'Would you like to see the kitchen?'

Expecting the dining room to be the elegantly gliding swan above the water and the kitchen to be the furiously paddling legs beneath, we entered the inner sanctum. Clare Smyth's team were unexpectedly calm and apparently unhurried, although in the way the workings of a Swiss watch would be: meticulously synchronised. Clare took a minute out to chat although she and her Head Chef personally check each and every dish before it reaches the diners and the standards are beyond exacting.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay deserves every one of its three Michelin stars; the food is exquisite and if anyone wants to learn about customer service, then these guys have it absolutely nailed. This was an outstanding dining experience: not fussy, not pretentious, just totally focused on the diner and delivering more than they promise - this is the dining equivalent of being ushered to the front of the queue, past the rope and bouncers and straight into the VIP lounge.








Yours, lunching it large, Girl About Town xx



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2 comments:

  1. Thanks London - Girl About Town for sharing this, it looks amazing!

    I don't think I'll make it there myself so have enjoyed reading your post (although I was fortunate to make it to Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Cafe before it closed - see http://wp.me/pCISV-6n).

    Thanks!
    Lou 'LardButty'

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  2. I know you never get a true reflection of a restaurants capabilities when you order the "set lunch" but the one you had looks sensational. The loin of Rabbit defiinitely a work of art...beautiful.
    Nice meal and i really must go.

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