The highlight of our recent trip to London was a visit to Gordon Ramsays’ Prestigious, 3 Michelin starred, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. For a foodie, this is probably the best present a girl could get for her 30th! I was so excited. We started off with a bottle of champagne in the hotel room before getting our glad rags on (a suit for Lee!) and set off to the Restaurant.
The kitchen at the restaurant is run by Clare Smyth, who was voted Chef of the Year 2013 in the Good Food Guide and also MBE. She has been with Restaurant Gordon Ramsay since 2002, with a stint under Alain Ducasse in France in the middle of that. She is the only female chef in the UK to run a restaurant with the accolade of 3 Michelin stars.
The restaurant is situated on Royal Hospital Road and is actually relatively unassuming from the front. Stepping inside and you walk through a short entrance corridor and it’s like being in another world. We were seated straight away and offered an aperitif. I went for another glass of champagne while Lee had a vodka and tonic.
The service throughout was something of a wonder – and for this alone I could see why they have 3 stars. It ran like a well oiled machine, the staff seemingly in constant fluid movement, with everyone and everything always in the right place at the right time.
We had a choice of menus, 2 different tasting menus or A La Carte. We went for one of the tasting menus – the Menu Prestige. This I’m led to believe is a combination of some of the signature dishes, as opposed to the other tasting menu which is a more seasonal one. We were also given the option of replacing the ‘pasta’ based course with the ‘special’ of the evening which was essentially based on white truffle. Two huge white truffles were bought around for us to have a look at – the smell was like something I’ve never experienced before and I dread to think how much money we were looking at in that box! We decided against the special course due to the extra £35 supplement pp, but also I preferred the sound of the original dish! We chose a bottle of red off the extensive wine list to accompany the meal – one of the Sommelier’s recommendations, a Chilean Pinot Noir.
The meal was started with a few little amuse bouche. Now I can’t quite remember exactly what these all were (you can’t go jotting notes in a restaurant like this…!) but I will try my best. There were 3 different things – firstly (and the most tasty) were little truffle buns, then quail scotch eggs, and finally fish wrapped with seaweed and roe.
The first course off the tasting menu was Pressed foie gras with green apples, turnips, watercress and smoked duck. The foie gras was velvety smooth and melted in your mouth and the freshness of the apple cut across this perfectly. The smoked duck was so moreish, and something I’d not eaten before – I will certainly be eating it again!
Next up was Ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon poached in a light bisque, oscietra caviar and sorrel velouté. The ravioli was huge and packed with the succulent fish, the oscetra caviar was another new one on me, but was delicious and the sorrel veloute was a vibrant green, well seasoned and really complimented the fish. There was a theme starting to occur of extremely exclusive expensive ingredients being used to go into the dishes,which really made you feel that the whole experience was so much more special.
The ‘fish’ course was Isle of Gigha halibut with Atlantic King crab, finger lime and ras el hanout infused broth. The halibut was delicate and perfectly cooked but the wow in this dish came in the broth – again so so delicate, and an abundance of subtle spices as well as some edible rose petals and other flower petals. One of the prettiest dishes I have seen, my picture does not do it justice.
There was a choice for the ‘main’. I went for Cotswold lamb and winter vegetable “Navarin,” braised shank and confit breast whilst Lee had the Bresse pigeon with grilled polenta, smoked ventrèche, braised shallots and dates. Once again we could have nothing negative to say about either dish – perfect tasty meat and the sauces both had an immense depth of flavour. The confit breast of lamb was out of this world. I snuck a bit of Lee’s dish too and have to say the braised shallot and dates were incredible, the sweetness they had just made the dish so much better.
A choice again for the next course – Lee had the cheese (predictable!) while I had Mango, jasmine and passion fruit soup. This was presented like a drink, in a tall glass with a straw and the instructions to drink it like a cocktail. I did just that and drank it pretty quickly! It was a bit like a very high class, intensely flavoured smoothie, with a hint of the flowery jasmine coming through.
The pre dessert was a Cucumber sorbet, salad burnet, lemon verbena and mint. Some innovative presentation here – the dish came in a little pestle and mortar, with some herbs and ingredients at the bottom with a scoop of sorbet lying on top. The idea was to pound the two together! Such crisp clean flavours, a perfect cleanse to the palate.
Lastly, and possibly the best dish of the night. Lemonade parfait with honey, bergamot and sheep’s milk yoghurt sorbet. This was just one of those desserts that just works. Everything about it harmonised and each bite was just amazing. The subtle bergamot in the gel all over the plate was a revelation. The craftsmanship that must go into each plate is also indescribable – it was a work of art.
As if this wasn’t enough, petit fours arrived; some white chocolate and strawberry ice cream truffles in a smoking dish of liquid nitrogen as well as the more traditional – a chocolate ganache square and a turkish delight jelly. Also a little birthday surprise turned up at the table – Lee is a sneaky one! It’s rare that a picture of me appears on the blog – but here is one of me and my birthday surprise.
To top off a fantastic evening on our way out the Maitre’d asked us if we would like a quick tour of the kitchen. Obviously we weren’t going to say no to this – he told us a little bit about how everything was set up, and introduced us to Clare who was plating up with military precision. She was lovely and took the time to step away from the pass and have a quick chat too.
Overall we had a faultless dinner. The service was probably the best we have ever experienced, without being too stuffy and there was a really nice ambience. The food was refined and gorgeous and some of the best we have eaten, although wouldn’t go quite to the top of our list. All this topped off with a peek in the kitchen and meeting Clare, who could ask for more. It’s not a cheap night out, but for that special occasion it would be perfect. It was for me.
68 Royal Hospital Road
Disclosure: We paid for our own meal, and all opinions expressed are honest and our own