This restaurant is the flagship of the Gordon Ramsay restaurant empire, having opened in 1998. Since 2015 the chef de cuisine has been now Matt Abe, who has worked in the Gordon Ramsay group for more than six years. Prior to that he worked in Aria in Sydney and Vue de Monde in Melbourne. The dining room has had various refurbishments over the years and remains a quite intimate space. Recently a shiny new kitchen has been added, at which at least 16 chefs work at each service. The tasting menu was £155, as well as a la carte at £120 for three courses, or a cheaper lunch menu (with less luxurious ingredients) at £70.
The wine list has been revamped since my last visit and now arrives in a thick book complete with detailed notes on wine regions and even maps of areas such as Puligny Montrachet. Sample labels were Domaine Jean Macla Cotes du Jura 2010 at £65 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £38, J.J. Prum Graacher Himmelrecih Kabinett 2015 at £90 compared to its retail price of £27, and Domaine Jean-Noel Gagnard Chassgne Montrachet Champ Derriere 2014 at £145 for a bottle that will set you back £46 in a shop. For those with the means, Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet les Pucelles 2011 was £625 compared to its retail price of £230, and Vega Siciia Unico 2004 was £825 for a bottle whose current market value is £342.
The meal began with a quartet of canapés. A chickpea tartlet case contained Roves des Garrigues Provencal goat cheese that had been whipped with olive oil, marjoram, salt and pepper. This was garnished with fennel pollen and prettily arranged seasonal edible flowers. This had a delicate base and plenty of flavour. A very thin Charlotte potato crisp was topped with smoked crème fraiche, pickle gel and sea trout roe that had been lightly cured with soy, mirin rice wine and sake. Kingfish was cured in citrus fruit, rolled in toasted nori (seaweed) and finished with ponzu gel and shiso (perilla) leaf. The tart was delicate and pretty and the touch of acidity from the ponzu went well with the fish. Finally there were gougeres made with Gruyere. These were classy examples of the breed, neatly piped out and having stacks of cheesy flavour, the choux pastry having light texture. This initial set of nibbles were terrific. They were followed by the least successful dish of the meal, a cucumber gazpacho with sheep milk yoghurt and melon. This was harmless enough but for me just lacked much interest: melon balls with a bit of yoghurt and cucumber juice just weren’t in the same ballpark as the other nibbles (18/20 nibbles on average, despite the final one).
Bread was a choice of two: pleasant sourdough bought in from the Bread Factory, and pretzel bread made in the kitchen. I am all in favour of kitchens making their own bread, but in this case the sourdough was the better of the two by some margin; I had recently had some superb pretzel bread at Atelier in Munich, and perhaps a trip there for whoever makes the bread here would be useful to see how it can be done.
The first formal course of the meal was pressed foie gras with Bual Madeira jelly, cherry puree, fresh cherry, green almonds, smoked duck and black pepper, garnished with red veined sorrel, with toasted brioche on the side. This was lovely, the foie gras having silky texture and deep liver flavour, the acidity of the cherries and slight tartness of the almonds balancing the richness of the liver (19/20). After this came the signature seafood ravioli with langoustine, salmon and lobster with wood sorrel and sorrel veloute, which has been on the menu since the distant days when Gordon Ramsay actually cooked here. The seafood filling is dressed with basil, coriander and chervil and wrapped in pasta. Much has been written about this dish, and it is a classic, a lovely balance of flavours (19/20).
This was followed by a fillet of braised Cornish turbot from a medium sized fish (3kg when I asked the waitress, growing to 4kg when I asked the chef), served with sautéed green courgettes, pickled yellow courgettes, confit red pepper, Nicoise olives, and a quenelle of romesco (a nut and red pepper-based sauce) and lemon verbena. Finally there was a courgette puree seasoned with basil and verbena. The fish was accurately cooked, though its flavour did not compare well to some that I ate in Dublin a few days earlier (at both The Greenhouse and Patrick Guilbaud), while for me the romesco flavour could have had somewhat more apparent (17/20 at best).
Pigeon from Bresse was glazed and coated with toasted buckwheat, puffed amaranth and fennel pollen. Alongside this was confit leg, heart and liver ragu, served with baby fennel, pickled girolles, apricot gastrique and fennel tops, along with a spiced sauce of the pigeon. The bird was carefully cooked and had good flavour, the vegetables working well to balance the richness of the meat and its sauce. The bird was very good, with plenty of gamey flavour (18/20), if not in the league of the Anjou pigeon I recently ate at Pic.
The cheese board was supplied from Fromagerie in London and was in good condition, a mix of French and British cheeses. Comte was particularly good, as was the Stilton. This was followed by a pre-dessert of apricot sorbet on top of a base of lemon and thyme granite. This was nicely made and refreshing (17/20). The main dessert was “lemonade parfait”. This was confit lemon and bergamot jelly topped with sheep milk and yoghurt sorbet, with a vertical circular tuile of spun honey. This was a very pretty dessert but more importantly one in excellent balance, the citrus flavour, honey and yoghurt combining to excellent effect (19/20). Coffee was from Workhouse Coffee and was very enjoyable. It was served with some excellent petit fours: strawberry ice cream wrapped in white chocolate, macadamia salted caramel and milk chocolate crunch, and some blackcurrant and lime pate de fruits.
Service was very slick, with a knowledgeable French waitress. The bill came to £193 a head for the prestige menu with coffee and just water to drink. If you order there courses and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical all-in cost per person might come to around £170. Overall I enjoyed this meal, which showed plenty of technical skill. The food here is polished and consistent, and the kitchen offers dishes that you actually want to eat rather than trying to push culinary boundaries to show off how clever they are. This may no longer be the most fashionable address in London to eat at, but it does offer some of the best-made food.Book