Love him or loath him, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is where a certain famous Scottish chef made the step up to become one of the world's culinary elite. It's a location steeped in gastronomic history, having previously housed the legendary La Tante Claire for more than twenty years. Chef patron Clare Smyth may now run the show, but Ramsay gives a subtle middle finger to those who feel his role is now simply that of a loud mouthed TV personality by maintaining his name on the door and even a rather artsy image of himself cooking away on the menu.Personally, I couldn't care less what the place is called but there's no doubt the Ramsay name does give the place a certain gravitas for overseas tourists, of which there were many on the Friday evening I dined with my wife. The restaurant itself is stunningly finished and you certainly get an immediate sense on arrival that this is a top class venue. Tables that rotate to allow easy access are a nice touch and although you're sat fairly close to other people, it doesn't feel at all cramped. Even the resplendent toilets are rather interesting; one outer door to three cubicles, one for men and two for women, with shared basins. There's something very grown up about that arrangement; indeed I enjoyed a nice chat with a never before met lady whilst washing my hands; you can't say that in many restaurants. Well, not many restaurants of this class anyway. As you might expect, the service throughout was simply sensational. Maitre d' Jean-Claude Breton runs the front of house with a calm experience and was a delight to talk to; you know he must have heard everything you could possibly say a thousand times before, but that doesn't prevent him taking the time to talk to good old normal guests like me and the wife. He is of course backed up by a great team; we were served by a variety of waiters throughout the night and they were all that perfect combination of warm yet professional. The only person who I found a little bit off was the head sommelier; it wasn't anything major but whilst he spent time canoodling other guests he knew at a different table, his approach to myself and my wife was noticeably frosty. Perhaps he didn't like my shirt. Dinner began with a fabulous G&T; for my wife there wasn't much of a non-alcoholic selection, which was a shame, but she enjoyed a nice verjus fizz nonetheless. We selected the Menu Prestige which turned out to be an excellent choice, although it's difficult to imagine being served anything less than a stellar plate of food here from any of the menus. The canapes included some beautiful salmon and then came a glorious egg, potato and truffle amuse bouche; quite simply the most delicious egg I have ever had the pleasure of eating - seriously stunning flavours. The main event was, as you'd expect, absolutely world class. An extremely eloquent pressed foie gras was followed by the lobster ravioli; it's been on the menu for fifteen years and it's not difficult to see why. Equally good dishes of halibut and lamb followed (pigeon for my wife); you can just feel this is a menu that really has been perfected to extreme heights of excellence. One thing that really sets Restaurant Gordon Ramsay apart from many other restaurants is the menu pacing. The courses were delivered with what I felt was almost regimented timing; there were no long delays sat looking at my gradually warming glass of wine as so often occurs in many restaurants; the pace of delivery was absolutely flawless. That's not easy to achieve. There was a small and perfectly formed pause for a lovely mango and passion fruit soup and then dessert began. The next course was a bit of a do it yourself cucumber sorbet; I have to be honest and say it did nothing for me (although perfectly acceptable as a palette cleanser) but my wife absolutely loved it. It's strange as I am a big cucumber fan so was expecting to enjoy it; the waiter did point out it does divide opinion regularly. There was no question of anyone not finding the lemon parfait to finish absolutely delightful however; another truly top class dish in my opinion. The wine pairings were very good as you'd expect; don't be put off by the lack of set wine pairing pricing, it just gives them a bit more freedom to choose what they think is best for you. When I asked for wine pairings I was told up front without any request what the cost would be ("Between £90 and £100") and they're listed by the glass on the final bill. They were delivered with great authority by our waitress who we thought was a charming mix of undeniable confidence but also genuine warmth. All was going swimmingly until the last course when sadly the food arrived before the wine, although admittedly the wine did follow seconds later. With the aforementioned waitress delivering the food, unfortunately this meant our table again had to inconvenience the head sommelier, poor him. He poured the final wine without any explanation whatsoever; admittedly he was caught off guard but surely he must know the script for each wine? I can only assume he still didn't like my shirt. I must just mention my wife's next drink as well; after her enjoyable vejus fizz she wanted to try something different. There was a bit of uncertainty about what to offer, the range of non-alcoholic drinks here really is quite poor, but in the end a strawberry fruit juice from France was suggested. A charming waiter brought it and presented it like a bottle of wine before pouring, it seemed quite an over the top ceremony for what was essentially just a bottle of juice. That was until I saw the bill. Ten pounds. Ten. Pounds. For juice! Suddenly it all made sense. It was nice though and I really can't complain given how much my wife's generous avoidance of alcoholic beverages saves me on every bill. But still, ten pounds! It was around this point that Jean-Claude invited us for a kitchen tour. As my wife discussed the finer details of the frantic kitchen with him, I gave a distant hello and a rather sheepish wave to the imperiously calm Clare Smyth, busy watching the pass like a majestic hawk. Admittedly, I was fairly merry by this point in the evening but she gave a very genuine smile and a hello back; I was perfectly happy with that. We always prefer an early sitting and to be honest I do enjoy seeing a kitchen in full swing mid-service, even if that means not so much chit chat. Dinner finished with some delightful petit fours; the cold white chocolate balls seem to be a theme in a few restaurants now; these particular ones weren't the best I'd had, but the chocolate praline was absolutely divine and I can honestly say the best praline I've ever tasted. The bill was delivered promptly and after offering to ring for a taxi, our waiter did seem to appreciate that I was manly enough to walk to the tube station. In summary, it's very difficult to fault the place. The food is stunning, the service is incredible and the venue is just sublime. It's a restaurant that seems to have fallen out of fashion a little in recent years, but despite lacking the bells and whistles of some of today's most in demand restaurants, this is still, unquestionably, a world class food experience.
|Ratings||Michelin Guide||AA Guide||Good Food Guide|
|At time of review||10|