Wednesday, August 03, 2011

london eats: restaurant gordon ramsay

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
68 Royal Hospital Road
London SW3 4HP
Tel: +44 (0)20 7352 4441

A month or two before R & I set off for our trip, we started watching Ramsay's Best Restaurant in hopes to find a couple of restaurants which we could dine at when we were there. The restaurants on the show were divided into different cuisines and the winners in each cuisine category had to battle against each other. There were a few that caught our eyes and we did try the winner of the Spanish category, Fino in the end but the rest were out of London and hence, out of the itinerary.

Visiting a Ramsay restaurant wasn't part of the plan in the beginning. It was only whilst watching the show and seeing the contestants cook and serve in Ramsay's flagship 3 Michelin Star restaurant did I realise that I HAD to get the "Ramsay experience" that he's always been so proud of. Hence, a few adjustments to the itinerary later, we got ourselves a table for lunch!

Walking into the off-white and simply decorated dining room, I realised how small it was compared to how it was on TV (the whole restaurant sits 45). Once we settled in, we were brought our menus. Before that, we were actually asked 'May I know which of you is hosting the table today?' and even when we said 'no one in particular', the menu with the prices was handed to R (chivalry is not dead!) and I got a menu without so that I could order anything I wanted without worrying about the prices. Nice touch there although that ordering anything I wanted didn't really happen in reality.

So after we ordered, the bread basket arrived (with one waiter aka bread guy) and we were asked to choose between cow's milk and goat's milk for the butter (by another waiter aka butter guy). Can someone tell me why the butter in Europe is so much creamier and delicious??! Only regret here is I did not get to try the goat's milk butter cos I didn't see it at any other restaurant over the rest of the trip.

Amuse Bouche: Consomme of Spring Vegetables with Foie Gras Parfait

Off to a good start with the amuse bouche. The consomme was clean and packed full of flavour. The foie gras parfait was light in texture but had a really rich flavour. The starters that followed during the set lunch were equally good. The pithivier (also known as a pie) had an especially good pastry with was packed full of the delicious stuffing. The chicken livers had a strong flavour but was not too overpowering.

Chicken Livers & Foie Gras with Apples & Truffle Vinaigrette

Quail & Wild Mushroom Pithivier with Confit Leg & Celeraic Remoulade

The mains fared even better. The fish was cooked to perfection and so delicate but yet extremely flavourful. Out of the 2 mains, I liked the pork belly better. There was a good amount of fat to keep the meat moist. The apples was a perfect and classic combination with the pork and I loved the addition of the black pudding! The dish was then rounded up with an extremely flavourful jus.

Roasted Halibut with Bacon, Roasted Potatoes and Wilted Spinach

Slow Cooked Pork Belly with Choucroute, Roasted Apple, Black Pudding & Pommes Dauphine

The desserts were good but none too exciting. The Pear Tart Tatin was pretty good but I did not taste much of that shaved blue cheese. In comparison, I'd still have to say the apple tart tatin served as Bistro Vue in Melbourne still wins hands down as the best tart tatin I've ever had. R enjoyed his banana dessert. Although he's not much of a fruit fan, especially bananas, he did like the classic combination of bananas and chocolate and found that the bananas were not too overpowering in this dish.

Banana Parfait, Peanut Butter Mousse & Bitter Chocolate Sandwich with Caramelised Bananas

Pear Tarte Tatin with Walnut Ice Cream & Shaved Colston Bassett

I would have to say that it was pretty bizarre when the petit fours arrived at the table. The whole meal had been so classically French hence when the spaceship-looking white chocolate truffles appeared at the table,  I was taken aback. Even more bizarre was the strawberry ice cream with the dried ice. I guess I'm just not used to such theatrics at a table. If the aim of this presentation was to make a lasting impression, it sure did it for me.
Petit Fours: White Chocolate Truffles

Petit Fours: Strawberry Ice Cream coated with White Chocolate

All in all, I'd have to say that Ramsay's food is classic French, fuss-free and most importantly, delicious. If you're looking for the avant garde style of cooking or a play on classics, you won't find it here. What I would say separates it from many other restaurants that serve excellent food is its excellent service. The staff were extremely attentive and in fact, we saw so many of them but they were never in the same room at the same time. Really made us wonder where they were hiding! Andrew, the head maitre d' during our lunch service was exceptionally charming, friendly and looked as cute as he did on TV! He definitely won my heart over when he offered us to have a look at the kitchen (where the filming was done!). A picture taken and many goodbyes and thank yous later, I walked out happy, armed with an experience that will stay with me for a long time.

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