We were booked for dinner at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, the flagship of the Ramsay Group. The Michelin Guide for 2014 has just been released and this restaurant continues to have three stars.
The last couple of years have not been kind to Gordon Ramsay, he nearly went bankrupt, he had a massive fall out with his father in law who was the CEO of his organisation, he lost many of his very talented protégés, he has had to shut down some restaurants, and, in a bid to save his empire, moved to the USA where his television appearances have earned him millions. Soon things got better and he is back to opening restaurants.
When concluding my post following our last visit to the restaurant I had written.
Last impressions? Great food, high quality, highly refined, impressive use of techniques, skill and presentation. Service to match the food. Very ordinary atmosphere and ambience in the restaurant, much too busy with all the staff bustling and frenetic.
Has this bested our favourite restaurant overall - Le Gavroche? Nope. Has this bested the most charming restaurant – Galvin Le Chapelle? Nope. Has this wowed us with the food like Koffman did? Nope. Is it very good and should you go here? Of course. Does it deserve 3 Michelin stars? Yes.
We reached the restaurant some 15 minutes early as there was no traffic. An effusive welcome and soon we were seated. The Maitre D’ Jean-Claude Breton then accompanied us to our table. Then came a moment of what I think is rather silly. The Maitre D’ asked, `who is the host’? On being told that it was me, I got the menu with prices. This, I heard being repeated at other tables, which caused much confusion and in some cases I am sure, embarrassment. It is an awkward question to be asked. The reason for this question was that the `host’ was the only person who got a menu with prices. At Le Gavroche, where both Ramsay and Jean-Claude Breton worked, this matter is done in a far more subtle manner. The person in whose name the reservation is, is regarded as the host and gets the menu with prices. Anyway, you can imagine the consternation this question causes with the many Japanese who turn up here to eat and have not such great English skills.
3 menus were on offer. A 3 course a la carte, a 7 course Prestige menu and a 7 course Seasonal menu. Unlike other restaurants, all people on the table did not have to order the same menu. HRH the Queen could, for instance, have ordered a 7 course Prestige and I could have ordered the 3 course a la carte. This takes considerable service skills as well as tests the kitchen to the maximum. We have grown a bit tired of these long multiple course meals for two primary reasons. First, it does get a bit boring waiting for all the courses to come, plates getting cleared, resetting the cutlery and crockery and so on and so forth. Secondly, the portion sizes are small, obviously, to cater to having 7 courses. We prefer the a la carte, 3 courses, decent portion sizes and no time wasting and you can choose what exactly you want. So it was a la carte for us.
Once the menus were in our hands, we were offered an Aperitif or Champagne. We got our glasses of Champagne and settled down to order our food and select the wine from a really large wine list. Once that was done, the Champagne arrived and with that the Canapés. I asked if I could take photographs and was told of course I could. The things I do for you readers!!
Then we could let our breaths out and have a look about the restaurant. It had a most happy buzz and this time most people were dressed in jackets. I was pleased to see that. Then of course, a table of 4 Japanese came in, wearing jeans and carrying massive cameras. To make matters worse, their mobile phones started to ring. Thankfully they were silenced.
A small footstool was discreetly placed between our chairs where HRH the Queen of Kutch could keep her purse. I took advantage of that and kept my camera on it. The staff was absolutely charming. All of them smiled and exchanged pleasantries with us. Everybody was really nice. Soon our food started to arrive. I will not describe every dish to you. You could have a look at the photographs I took.
The food was absolutely stunning. Every dish was served at the correct temperature. Every dish was seasoned to perfection. Every dish was superbly conceptualised with great ingredients. The Amuse Bouche we got, Baby vegetables, Horseradish Snow and a cold Tomato Consommé was an absolute stunner of a dish. The baby vegetables were just that, babies. Minute Tomato, miniature Radish and small Cucumbers. It was amazing, cold and refreshing. A real stunner. Mind you that was just the Amuse Bouche. I must also mention the fantastic Onion and Bacon Brioche that was offered as one of the breads in the bread basket. This was what dream breads should be. Intensely flavoured and light and airy.
When the evening ended and I asked for the bill. When I did so, I was asked if I wanted a taxi ordered. They had seen us coming in a taxi. Then, when leaving the Maitre D’ Jean-Claude Breton, asked if we would like to see the kitchen and meet the Chef. We of course said yes and we were whisked into the kitchen. It was large, probably as large as the restaurant, and clean. Spotlessly clean. We were introduced to Clare Smyth the Head Chef at the restaurant, a lady handpicked by Gordon Ramsay to head his flagship restaurant. She was charming and happily posed for a photo with us, which Jean-Claude Breton took. What a charming moment.
For those of you who will ask, was Gordon Ramsay not there? No he was not. I would like to tell you what the great Paul Bocuse once said – `Who is doing the cooking in my restaurant when I am not there? The same person who cooks when I am there.’
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay has Gordon Ramsay’s name on the door, but it is Clare Smyth who cooks. Let me assure you she is a brilliant chef and Ramsay need not worry.
In light of this meal, I think it is only fair to say that we had a truly wonderful evening. This second visit was so much better and more satisfying than the first. The food was top notch, the service superlative, the charm factor stratospheric. This place beats many restaurants hollow. To conclude, has this bested our favourite restaurant overall - Le Gavroche? Nope. Has this bested the most charming restaurant – Galvin Le Chapelle? Oh yes. Has this wowed us with the food like Koffman did? Very much a resounding yes. Is it very good and should you go here? Of course. Does it deserve 3 Michelin stars? Yes.
|Choice of salted or unsalted butter. This was salted
|Canape - Parmesan and Truffle in some sort of Crepe
|Canape - Scotch Quail Eggs
|A canape - Nori and some sort of meat stock
|Amuse Bouche - Baby Vegetables with Tomato Consomme and Horseradish Snow
|Ravioli of Lobster, Langoustine and Salmon poached in a light Bisque with Oscietra Caviar & Sorrel Veloute
|Poached Scottish Lobster Tail with Lardo di Colonnata, Pickled Vegetables & Coral Vinaigrette
|Suckling Pig - Crispy Belly, Roasted Loin, Spiced Shoulder Sausage, Chou Farci with Crushed Potato & Spring Onion
|Fillet of Line Caught Sea Bass with Cucumber, Samphire, Steamed Charlotte Potato, Oyster & Caviar Sauce
|Second Amuse Bouche - Mango and Passion Fruit with Yoghurt. This was like our Amarkhand.
|Tarte Tatin for 2
|A seving of Tarte Tatin with Caramel Sauce delightfully poured on the plate
|Vanilla Ice Cream to accompany the Tarte Tatin
|Petit Fours - Dark Chocolate and Turkish Delight
|Petit Fours - Strawberry Ice Cream in White Chocolate
|With Clare Smyth - in a clean kitchen