Cookery with class. Dining @ Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Cookery with class. Dining @ Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Well you’ve seen him screaming at terrified chefs, hurling abuse at dismal restaurateurs and throwing the occasional plate of food into the ground. This is Gordon Ramsay, or so the media would have you believe. If his flagship restaurant, run by the incredibly talented Clare Smyth, says anything of Ramsay’s true nature then it describes him as humble, extremely dedicated and possessing an eye for detail that makes this restaurant the longest holder of three Michelin stars in all of London. This is Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

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We arrive in beautiful Chelsea to a slightly damp evening, quickly forgotten as we are ushered into the stunning dining room on Royal Hospital Road. Gold and silver glitter amongst the tables. The diners themselves seem to glitter, Katy Perry sits in a corner table with John Mayer causing Jess’s jaw to drop. Celebrity spotting is definitely not what we’re here for however. This is about food.

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Menus arrive and we decide to change pace a little and thought we would eat a la carte. Yes I know it’s not the usual tasting menu straight up but we have a tonne of eating to do here in London and want to be under 300 kilo when we return home. With decisions made and Champagne in hand we relax and let Clare and her team work their magic. Snacks weave their way towards us, a perfectly oozing quail scotch egg is crunchy and creamy whilst a truffle steamed bun sits like a little cloud on the plate.

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As quick as they arrive they disappear and we are presented with a little treat from the kitchen. A cannelloni of leek stuffed with porcini in a velouté of chestnut. Incredible. The soft, sweet leek with slippery, earthy porcini melts into the richness that comes only from wonderful chestnut. This is understated simplicity, the quality of the ingredient, the skill of cookery. It takes a good chef to use ingredients well, it takes a great one to let the ingredients speak for themselves. This was a decadent way to begin the proceedings and left us both wanting more.

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First course arrives, for Jess a Ramsay classic. Having seen the recipe for this in his famous 3* cookbook I was keen to see the dish itself. Ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon poached in a light bisque with oscietra caviar and sorrel velouté. It arrives looking like a perfect dome, black caviar adding an extra layer of lux to what proved to be meticulously cooked seafood served with the lightly citric sorrel velouté. This is classic cookery, though foams, gels and airs are incredible it is not everyday one gets to experience food like this. This is cooking at its finest.

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For me I of course see offal on the menu and dive right in. Yes I’m a chef and these are the tasty bits I love to eat. Forgive me vegos. Sautéed foie gras with roasted veal sweetbreads, carrots, almonds and Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar. Wow, meaty, creamy, sweet, savoury. This dish sang off the plate. The foie is pan roasted and melts like butter, the sweetbreads are fried in nutty brown butter and the vinegar brings the acid to cut down all that delicious fat! This starter had guts, well it had offal, ok a poor joke I apologise, but it is the only way I can describe it. A flavour explosion that had me gobbling mouthfuls and wanting to lick the plate. 3 Michelin stars wouldn’t mind would they?

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Still savouring the fantastic starters and keeping Jess from staring at Katy Perry for too long, main course arrives. Well actually only part of it arrives, my Cornish turbot cooked en papillotte is opened in front of us, the smell is a heavenly scent of ocean, seaweed and butter. Ok I’m salivating, get that fish on a plate lets go. Cornish turbot baked on the bone with seaweed, palourde clams, coco beans and fennel. This is probably one of the best fish dishes I have ever eaten! Yes that is saying a lot and I don’t care, this dish is amazing. The turbot takes on all of the umami flavours from the seaweed, the fennel brings in a lovely liquorice note and the beans are creamy and moorish. I dream of cooking fish this perfectly, the turbot peels away from itself in delicate white flakes, this is the fish they serve in heaven.

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Utterly distracted by my fish course I almost miss a taste of Jess’s Cotswold lamb,
autumn vegetable “Navarin,” best end, braised shank, confit breast and shoulder. If I’d have waited a few seconds more I probably would have missed out because Jess sure looks like she is enjoying it. The lamb is blushing pink, the braise unctuous and sticky and the confit as it should be, rich! There is a tonne of technique going on in this dish. This is not lamb and vegetables, it is so much more. This is treating the lamb with the respect it deserves and serving as much of it as possible. A feast of meat cooked to perfection.

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Now in all honesty I could sit back feeling content for hours, actually I could probably have one more bite of fish, but we must go forth into the world of pastry. Our palates are cleansed with a refreshing mix of goats milk yoghurt and a passion fruit, mango concoction. Then dessert menus arrive. The part Jess has been waiting for, Katy Perry seems like a distant memory now. Dessert time.

imageChoice is agonising but eventually we narrow it down to the two that we must try. Jess goes for Lemonade parfait with honey, bergamot and sheep’s milk yoghurt sorbet. This beautifully plated treat arrives underneath a spun honey tuille, the dish tastes incredibly of lemonade. The honey and bergamot bring both sweet and savoury notes whilst giving the dish a floral characteristic that instantly reminded me of long summers and refreshing drinks.

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For once I went for richness, I know I’m not always the dessert lover but I am an insatiable lover of chocolate, especially chocolate and orange. So for me it is smoked chocolate cigar with blood orange and cardamom ice cream. Don’t be fooled by the effeminate looking plate the photo shows you, this was a dessert straight from a dark place, the rich rich chocolate barely giving room to the tart blood orange. Cardamom is a wonderful spice note with chocolate and here only made the chocolate taste even darker, it was a wonderful take on the classic flavours of chocolate and orange.

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It was nice to eat a la carte for a change. We seem to have become so used to tasting menus it was lovely to eat different dishes and chat about what we love. Dining. Service here is immaculate, sharply dressed waiters are friendly, down to earth and happy to chat about the food and their experiences in the restaurant. You could chat with Jean Claude and hear every story from within these walls. We sit back to some petit four of strawberry ice cream dipped in white chocolate, heavenly little bites that round out our meal with some silky smooth coffees. We head into the kitchen for a quick chat with the lovely Clare and a look around the powerhouse of this amazing restaurant. Clare is so humble and chats about how much she still loves cooking and working for Gordon. Maybe he’s a big teddy bear after all??

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Time for us to mosey out, avoiding the paparazzi on the way we farewell what has been an incredible experience of fine dining excellence. Make the time to get here, make the reservation, do whatever it takes. This is classic cooking at its best and needs to be appreciated, Clare and her fantastic team will ensure an amazing evening.

This is definitely not Hell’s Kitchen.

Josh & Jess

Dined October 2013
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
68 Royal Hospital Road London, England
http://www.gordonramsay.com/royalhospitalroad

Off with their heads. Day 71

Off with their heads. Day 71

Now you have all heard of William the Conqueror right? Well if you haven’t then a quick trip to Wikipedia is a must. One of his greatest achievements is the building of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, known by us today as the Tower of London. Built in 1078, this historic building is one of many must see attractions in London and is on our list for today.

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Now remember when I told you about all the wonderful free things London has to offer, this is not one of them. It will cost you around £20 to get in, however you can spend the entire day here if you want and every half hour a free tour is offered. Led by one of many Yeoman Warders or Beefeaters as they are commonly known, this tour allows you to wander through the tower listening to stories of events that have occurred and get a history on the people that have walked the beaten paths before us. Our guide seemed to have fun when talking about executions on Tower Hill and even added a few beheading puns along the way. He mentioned tails of those who were imprisoned here and those who died a painful death. Anne Boleyn being one of the executed, is said to still haunt the White Tower as a ghost carrying her head under her arm. I definitely recommend this tour to anybody interested in a visit to the Tower of London, you will not be disappointed.

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Looking around the fortress it is easy to envision what once stood here. A moat once flowed around the outer wall and the entrance, now known as Traitors Gate is still standing tall. At the top of the towers are metal archers where guards once stood and within the towers themselves are exhibitions of artefacts and stories of the history of the Tower. Pitch black Ravens in the courtyard remain caged due to the superstitions of previous kings and queens. A giant Wooden trebuchet sits menacingly beyond the Stoney walls.

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Standing in the middle of the fortress is the White Tower. This palace was home to many kings and queens throughout English history and is now the location of the armoury and weaponry exhibits. Walking though the White Tower, personal armour of King Henry VIII is on display surrounded by canons and guns once used to hold down and protect the Fortress. Across the courtyard is the Waterloo Barracks, also known as the Jewel House. It is here that the Crown Jewels are housed and Josh and I cannot wait to go inside. We travel along observing the service ware, royal orbs and ceremonial swords until we finally see the crown. My jaw drops. My eyes widen. My smile grows. Some of the largest jewels I have ever seen are embedded in this crown made entirely of gold. It’s a magnificent sight, I wish I could look at it forever. Looking down I see my own diamonds sparkle and my smile grows even more.

imageThe Tower of London is not complete without standing along the outer wall and gazing along the River Thames towards the Tower Bridge, one of the most spectacular bridges in London. I get a bit trigger happy with my camera before we head home to get ready for dinner. A dinner we have been waiting for since we booked all those months ago.

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Josh has many culinary idols that inspire him every day to be the best chef he can be. One of those idols is Gordon Ramsay. Not because he is a tv superstar or because he screams and shouts, but because he has built an empire based on his skills and abilities as a chef and businessman. One of his restaurants has the title of holding three Michelin stars consecutively for the longest period of time and this is where we will be dining this evening. Tonight dinner is at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay on Royal Hospital Road.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is not what I expected at all. The interior is warm and inviting with guests seated on round tables sprawled across the room. Crisp, long white linen dresses the tables and napkins are wrapped in gold. This restaurant screams elegance and we cannot wait to begin with the food. Restaurant manager Jean-Claude greets us with a friendly welcome and wishes us a pleasant evening. With Champagne in hand it’s time to look over the menu. Something this restaurant does is offer a different menu to the host than the rest of the table. The difference being that the hosts’ menu includes prices and the others do not, I think it’s a nice touch. Spoiled for choice we decide to choose from the al a carte menu, something we have not done in a long time.

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House made bread, canapés and amuse bouche begins to flow to the table. Josh is in food heaven and he only gets more excited as more and more food comes through the kitchen door. “This is the best fish dish I have ever eaten!” Did I hear that correctly Josh? Such a statement is well deserved as Josh devours his turbot before I could sneak any from his plate, so you’ll have to wait for Josh’s review to hear how it tasted! All the food at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay was cooked without fault and each flavour was perfectly balanced. When you dine at Royal Hospital Road you are very likely to run into famous chefs or celebrities, tonight we dined tables away from Katy Perry and John Mayer. I have fallen in love with Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and we can see why this restaurant receives the accolades it does.

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Before we leave we are offered a tour of the kitchen, something we never refuse! Walking through the doors we see Head Chef and Ramsay’s protégée Clare Smyth having a conversation with one of the waitstaff. We thank her for an incredible meal and watch the kitchen team as they work in unison, the clean down is so thorough even Josh is impressed. Our experience at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay was unforgettable and we will be recommending it to all of our friends, family and readers.

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Feast!

Jess and Josh