Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (London)

Location: London, England
Address: 68 Royal Hospital Road
Website: http://www.gordonramsay.com/royalhospitalroad/
Type of Meal: Lunch



Since Hell’s Kitchen aired in 2005, I’ve wanted to eat at one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants.  The show portrays a chef that’s committed to excellence with kitchens churning out traditional but delicious looking dishes.  Hence, during our visit to London, I knew I had to visit his namesake restaurant – Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.  It’s no easy feat to earn a Michelin star accolade, let alone receive three of them and hold the standing for over ten years (started in 2001). If there was ever a place to experience Mr. Ramsay, his Royal Hospital Road establishment would be it. Of course, with his busy celebrity life, he doesn’t actually cook there anymore; rather, he’s left Chef Clare Smyth in charge.  But, he must have some hand in designing the menu and this would be my chance to try his brilliance.


So, as quickly as I could, I signed up online for a reservation at this 45 seat restaurant months in advance. Although I wouldn’t have dreamt of missing the sitting, you’re required to provide them with a credit card to secure the spot and be charged a hefty fine if you don’t show up.

On the day of the meal, we show up 15 minutes early and found the door locked with several other patrons waiting outside.  For a restaurant that specifies we must be ready to be seated at the time of our reservation, it’s a bit strange that they wouldn’t open up a little earlier to let people in.  About five minutes from our reservation time, the door finally unlocks and we’re greeted warmly and whisked in the intimate dining room. 

The dining area is small with all the tables situated in a square room and fairly close together - to the point that the staff need to move tables for some guests to get in and out which is unexpected for fine dining.  The chairs were plush and cozy but I could only imagine if a heavier set person were to sit in them they may find it fairly snug.

Not long after being seated, the manager arrives asking our table who is hosting.  Finding this to be a strange question, we offered up my husband’s father nonetheless.  It wasn’t until reading other blogger experiences that I realized they only print prices in the host’s menu, with the thought of allowing the other guests to order without apprehension.  The manager also came by later to speak to us and brief us on a bit about the restaurant’s history and answer any questions we may have, a great personal touch.

Gordon Ramsay’s lunch menu offers two three-course options – a set lunch (£55) or an a la carte (£95).  The set lunch’s choices are more limited, but our waiter advised that we could mix and match as we wanted with a slight supplement if we ordered the set lunch and wanted to substitute with something off the a la carte. This freedom is certainly appreciated with one guest substituting his dessert (no extra charge) and another substituting the main for the truffle pasta special of the day (supplement of £35).  The extra charge for pasta may seem steep, but Gordon Ramsay did provide a generous portion of the white truffle, which arrived in a box and freshly shaved on top of the creamy linguine with mushrooms.  Although I didn’t try the dish, my mother-in-law noted that the pasta was great with the truffle blending deliciously into the decadent creamy sauce.

We were first offered a selection of breads so I selected the sourdough and bacon brioche which other reviewers seem to rave about. Honestly, it was pretty run-of-the-mill bread, for a delicious bread basket Scarpetta is by far still my favourite.

Our amuse for the day was a cold refreshing tomato consommé laced with delicate pieces of tomatoes, frozen nitrogen cream and little dots of dill oil. It was a simple but invigorating way to wake up the taste buds.

My husband and I ordered off of the different menus with me getting the lunch (£55) and him the a la carte (£95) to allow us the ability to compare.  Mine began with the tartlet of confit salmon. Upon its arrival, the dish looked anything but a tartlet with it being so big.  The crust was wonderfully delicate and crispy made from phyllo dough rather than pastry. Cool shavings of fennel lined the base adding a fresh salad to the dish.  Numerous pieces of perfectly poached salmon sat on top along with sweet grilled peppers, thinly slice radishes and a soft boiled quail egg. Dots of basil dressing decorated the dish and added further flavour to the lightly seasoned tart. This was my favourite dish from my menu and this easily can be offered as a standalone main at any of Gordon Ramsay’s other restaurants.

After such a flawless start the miso glazed cod was a bit of a let-down. Don’t get me wrong, all the individual ingredients were cooked perfectly – the fish flakey, squid tender, shitake mushrooms meaty and Shanghai bok choy crispy. Rather, the black quinoa and lapsang souchong broth were throwing me off.  I didn’t realize that black quinoa isn’t fluffy but rather harder, more granular and has a nutty flavour; in the end, resembling sesame seeds.  Somehow, I just didn’t like the grainy texture with the cod. Lapsang souchong is essentially a Chinese smoked black tea which in itself doesn’t have much flavour – in Chinese cooking it’s often mixed with soy sauce or other ingredients rather than being by itself.  The dish did have some miso with it, but I didn’t find it pronounce enough so the fish just seemed like it was sitting in a strong tea broth which was slightly bland.

On the other hand, my husband’s experience with his menu was the complete opposite. His appetizer of seafood ravioli certainly looked promising when it was presented - a single oversized plump ravioli sitting in a sorrel velouté and bisque sauce with a dollop of expensive oscietra caviar on top. The ravioli was wonderful with its thin pasta dough barely containing a hefty mixture of lobster, langoustine (aka prawns/shrimp) and salmon. But the sorrel sauce, a leafy herb, has an acquired taste and personally we found the acidic tang slightly off putting.  I know Michelin star chefs need to be inventive and use little known ingredients, but really, I would have much rather the ravioli just be paired with a simple cream sauce, maybe laced with some truffle oil.

But, his main of pig done five ways more than made up for the lackluster starter.  Distinct portions of each are laid out on a white plate with a simple jus connecting everything.  Starting from left to right was a roasted loin/chop? very tender and went well with the smooth, thick and caramel like apple sauce.  The cute cabbage roll was another traditional but tasty portion to the offerings.  Where the dish shone was suckling pig, so crispy yet light it can certainly stand up to the Chinese and Catalonian versions I’ve had in my life.  Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten much about the next style other than it having a squashed potato underneath it. Lastly, was a sausage which was plump and juicy having just a hint of spice (this also went well with the smashed potato).

Before dessert was brought out, we were treated to slim glasses of passion fruit milk shake to cleanse the palate. I especially enjoyed the glass straws sitting within the thick liquid.

My dessert, a take on the classic banana, peanut butter and chocolate mixture, was delicious.  Each part of the dish was unassuming but went well together and allowed you to mix and match the sweetness of the caramelized bananas with the paper thin dark chocolate sheets.  The middle log appeared to be a banana and vanilla ice cream rolled into a nutty toffee mixture.  Lastly, a scoop of rich peanut butter mousse rounds out everything having a slight saltiness to it.  

The apple tarte tatin my husband and father-in-law shared was much more impressive arriving table side still warm in the pan.  It’s cut in half and then placed onto a caramel drizzle decorated plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.  The flakey pastry was soaked with butter and sweet thin caramel with a generous portion of soft apples in the middle. This was my first taste of the dessert and I love this indulgent take on the apple tart / upside down cake.

Before we moved onto coffee, a silver dish was brought out and when the dome lifted truffles of white chocolate strawberry ice cream sat amongst billowing dry ice. The sweet in itself really isn’t anything spectacular – cold strawberry ice cream encased in a crisp white chocolate crust – but the presentation is certainly exhilarating.  Gordon Ramsay was nice enough to bring another dome just so the one guest who away from the table when the first was brought out could experience it for themselves.

Rosewater Turkish delights and chocolate truffle squares were the petit fours accompanying our coffee and tea. Since I was stuffed by this point, I only tried the Turkish delight which was delicate yet had such a powerful rosewater taste… it’s an acquired taste that I liked.  Thankfully, they weren’t too sugary and were a great last bite.

 

Visiting Restaurant Gordon Ramsay was one of the most anticipated parts of my trip. So much so that I planned this restaurant last so that its magnificence wouldn’t overshadow everything else we tried. Regrettably, I really didn’t need to worry about this happening; overall, Gordon Ramsay was good but really not as magical as I had built it up to be in my mind. But, at least a foodie dream has been satisfied! Although, if anyone can tell me how to get a reservation for the one of Hell’s Kitchen’s final episodes, I can be enticed to try Mr. Ramsay’s creations again.     

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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