* * Please note that this review is from a time when I didn’t feel comfortable taking photographs of food in restaurants. *
This was where it all began for me almost 4 years ago in 2006, my love of fine-dining started with my first visit to Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. As I say in that retrospective review the restaurant seems to have fallen out of favour with some people, partly because it hasn’t progressed or evolved very much over the years but I think mainly because there of recent trends for more innovative food. Whilst Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is still serving unashamedly classic dishes. As I also said at the end of that review, it is worth nothing that the restaurant has retained it’s 3 Michelin stars and is still in the Good Food Guide Top 5 Restaurants in the country.
On this occasion I took my mother for her 50th birthday. Like myself on my previous visit it was her first time eating in a high end, 3 Michelin star restaurant.
The decor and design appeared to be much the same as my original visit, it didn’t quite have the same wow factor for me the second time around, possibly because of some of the stunning restaurants i’ve eaten in since or perhaps because Royal Hospital Road has been featured on TV so often on various cooking shows including Ramsay’s Best Restaurant and Masterchef. It is still a very stylish and elegant restaurant though.
I was very happy to see that Jean-Claude Breton was still there are he remains to this day my favourite Maitre d’. He was just as friendly and charming as I remembered and seemed genuinely interested in speaking to us.
As much as I tried not to I just couldn’t resist ordering the same starter that I had 4 years ago. ‘Ravioli Of Lobster langoustine and salmon’ was every bit as stunning as I remembered both in appearance and taste. I can understand peoples arguments about the menu not being updated very often but when a dish is this good it must be so difficult to remove it from a menu. If I was a regular I may get annoyed but as somebody who has only managed 2 visits in 4 years I was delighted to be able to experience it again.
My mother ordered ‘Butter Poached Scottish Lobster Tail with english asparagus, morels, swiss chard & truffles’ which again looked amazing. I didn’t try it but was told that it was exceptional. Here was an example of where the Restaurant Gordon Ramsay system of giving the ‘guest’ a menu with no prices pays off as this dish incurred a £9 supplement on top the already expensive cost of the 3 course meal. Obviously I wanted her to pick whatever she liked but I know for a fact that she would never have chosen the dish had see known that it cost extra.
I did manage to order a new main course, ‘Aged Casterbridge Beef Fillet with Fondant Potato, Ox Cheeks, Bone Marrow, Braised Root Vegetables & Red Wine Jus’. A very classic dish with flawless cooking. The fillet of beef was seared and charred on the outside whilst pink and juicy on the inside, the ox cheek slow cooked until they were almost falling apart and just melted in my mouth. All of the accompaniments were very good, the fondant potato had a golden and crispy exterior and a soft buttery interior, the bone marrow added another dimension to the dish and the flavourful red wine jus held everything together. Collectively they made a high quality and tasty if fairly safe dish.
Mother had ‘Roasted Barbary Duck Breast with creamed savoy cabbage, beetroot, caramelised shallots and madeira jus’ which looked so pretty with perfectly equal slices of duck in a fanned out in the centre of the plate, surrounded by shallots and cabbage. I did have a taste of this dish as as with my main course it was beautiful cooking of the highest quality, the flavours all complimented each other very well. Again it could be considered safe, it certainly wasn’t pushing any boundaries in terms of flavour or texture combinations but it was very enjoyable to eat.
For dessert I went for ‘Marinated Pineapple Ravioli with mango and raspberries’. It was good and I enjoyed it but in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have ordered ravioli for 2 courses as they were obviously fairly similar despite the different fillings. It looked just as good as the savoury starter and featured the same beautifully light pasta. It was filled with delicious juicy pineapple, I couldn’t quite pick out what it had been marinated in and forgot to ask. The fresh mango added more sweetness which was carefully balanced by sharp raspberries.
My Mothers dessert of ‘Bitter Chocolate Cylinder with coffee granité and ginger mousse’ was definitely the best looking dish of the night. It looked exquisite. The chocolate cylinder was a thing of beauty, perfectly formed and I know from watching shows like Masterchef and Great British Menu how difficult that sort of chocolate work is to pull off. The coffee granité was inside and added a big kick to the chocolate, I knew that ginger worked well with chocolate but had never come across ginger and coffee before. Well I can tell you that it works, the 3 together were a match made in heaven. A really good dessert!
Remembering that is was my Mum’s birthday Jean-Claude brought over a small ball of ice-cream with a lit candle in it which was very nice, the ice cream was delicious too.
At the end of the meal the head waiter asked if we would like a tour of the kitchen, naturally we said yes but as we were about to get up shouting and clattering was heard from back there. We were told that it was head chef Clare Smyth and as she is clearly not happy we should wait. Shortly afterwards we were taken through to the kitchen. Clare was nowhere to be seen but the kitchen was very impressive, slightly less exciting that it would have been if I hadn’t seen the kitchen many times on TV though.
Service was again immaculate, I stand by the fact that Restaurant Gordon Ramsay still offers the very best service around. Yes the menu hasn’t evolved too much and compared to the food of places like L’Enclume and Sat Bains is not innovative or exciting. It is however still excellent quality ingredients cooked with precision and skill. Clare deserves a lot of credit for taking over a 3 star restaurant and maintaining it at that level whilst gradually introducing her own style. I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as the first visit but then I haven’t enjoyed anywhere i’ve been since quite as much as that. I do understand people’s complaints but in my opinion if you have never been then it is worth a visit to experience top quality classical cooking with no gimmicks.
Oh and my Mum loved it too which was the whole point.
Date of visit: 06/08/2010Follow @FoodGeekUK