* * Please note: 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 much over the years but I think mainly because of recent trends for more innovative food. Whilst Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is still serving unashamedly classic dishes. However, 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 Mum 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 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, probably because of the stunning restaurants I’ve eaten in since then. 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’s still a very stylish and elegant restaurant though. Perfect for any special occasion.
I was happy to see Jean-Claude Breton was still there as 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 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 people’s arguments about the menu not being updated very often. But it’s really hard to complain when a dish is this good. And as somebody who’s only managed 2 visits in 4 years I was delighted to be able to experience it again.
My Mum 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 see probably wouldn’t have chosen the dish had she known 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 classic dish with flawless cooking.
The fillet of beef was seared and charred to perfection on the outside yet pink and juicy inside. The ox cheek slow cooked until falling apart and melted in my mouth. All the accompaniments were good too. The fondant potato had a golden, 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 top quality and tasty if fairly safe dish.
Mother had ‘Roasted Barbary Duck Breast with creamed savoy cabbage, beetroot, caramelised shallots and madeira jus’.
A very pretty dish.
Perfectly equal slices of duck fanned out in the centre of the plate, surrounded by shallots and cabbage. I did have a taste of this dish and as with my main course it was beautiful cooking of the highest quality. The flavours all complimented each other well. Again it could be considered safe. It certainly wasn’t pushing any boundaries in terms of flavour combinations but it was flawless cooking and very enjoyable to eat.
For dessert, I went for ‘Marinated Pineapple Ravioli with mango and raspberries’. It was lovely. But in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have ordered ravioli for 2 courses as they were obviously fairly similar.
It looked as perfect as the savoury starter and featured the same beautifully light pasta. It was filled with delicious juicy pineapple, I couldn’t 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 was exquisite.
The chocolate cylinder was a thing of beauty. Perfectly formed which I know from watching shows like Masterchef and Great British Menu is incredibly difficult to pull off.
The coffee granité, hidden inside, added a kick to the chocolate. I knew ginger worked well with chocolate but hadn’t come across ginger and coffee before. I can tell you that it works, the 3 together were a match made in heaven. A really great dessert visually and in taste.
Remembering it 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 our meal the head waiter asked if we’d 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 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.
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 it’s not innovative. It is however exceptional quality ingredients cooked with precision and skill. Clare deserves so much credit for taking over a 3 star restaurant and maintaining it at that level. Even more so as she is gradually introducing her own style.
I can’t say I enjoyed it quite as much as the first visit. But then I haven’t enjoyed anywhere I’ve been since quite as much. I do understand people’s complaints, but in my opinion, if you’ve never been it’s worth a visit to experience top quality classical cooking with no gimmicks.
Oh and my Mum loved it too which was the whole point.Follow @FoodGeekUK