I owe a lot to Gordon Ramsay. Back in the period around the millennium while the U.K was going mad for Jamie Oliver’s simple dishes and Essex charm, a foul mouthed chef chasing three michelin stars was bringing the focus onto how life as a chef was in the real world. That man grabbed my attention. That man was Gordon Ramsay.
Now of course Ramsay is the face of cooking on television sets across America and you have to say fair play to him. Building up a multi million pound empire of restaurants that stretches the breadth of the globe can’t have been easy, likewise attaining the trades ultimate accolade of three stars back in London. Who could begrudge Gordon for yelling at Americans for a large paycheck?
Ramsay though isn’t the angry bully that some would have you believe him to be. I watched him do a live demonstration with sous-chef Mark Sargeant at The Good Food Show in Birmingham. Ramsay eclipsed all other chef’s at the venue and turned out to be a fun guy who enjoyed a laugh. His food wasn’t half bad either.
Royal Hospital Road is the flagship restaurant of Gordon Ramsay. The very spot where the three star’s were won. Also the scene of the documentaries ‘Boiling Point’ and ‘Beyond Boiling Point’ which featured Ramsay’s pursuit of the top prize in cooking. Both of which are television gold and available to view on Youtube.
We made our reservations quite easily online and timed it with my 29th birthday celebrations. Menu’s are all accessible online and due to the restaurant being a three star the chances of a menu changing is slim. All menu’s were priced very fairly for this part of London and looked incredibly inviting.
A quick taxi from Sloane Square took us to the restaurant just as the doors were opening. With the Christmas decorations up outside it’s quite a small, intimate place but very stylish. We walked down a long corridor to the cloakroom area where the reservation was confirmed and our coats taken by the friendly staff. The staff then lead us into the dining room which was a lot smaller than I had envisioned.
Straight away the familiar face of Maitre D Jean-Claude Breton arrived extending his hand and wishing me a happy birthday. The man oozes charm and class at the same time putting the guest at ease. It became like chatting to an old friend as we discussed France, rugby, football and food.
The service here is seamless. After perusing the a la carte menu Jean-Claude approached the table casually asking what we would like to choose. We opted for the signature lobster ravioli to begin with and the lobster salad with coral vinaigrette along with navarin of lamb and suckling pig for mains. Jean-Claude noted this without the aid of paper or pen, only the keen eyed would see the assistant lurking somewhere in the background in a classic display of misdirection.
While our lobster dishes were no doubt being assembled in the kitchen we were treated to an amuse bouche of potato mousseline with freshly shaved white alba truffle served in an egg shell. Perhaps inspired by chef Clare Smyth’s time working under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. These were superb.
The starters arrived looking immaculate in presentation. A big dollop of oscietra caviar anointed my ravioli with the lobster salad vibrant orange from the coral dressing. Sorrel veloute was then poured into the dish and the ravioli was all mine. The fresh flavours coming out of this starter were just sensational. Everything works perfectly together and it’s clear to see why this is a signature and a classic all in one. Sublime.
The lobster salad was a little unusual with the lobster served cold but the cooking of the lobster was perfect with the slight sharp hit of the vinaigrette making for another top quality dish. All was well in our world at this point.
My anticipation was heightened for the main course as the navarin of lamb was the first dish that I ever attempted from Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Three Star Chef’ cookbook. The results were just sensational with particular fond memories of the lamb jus. The dish that arrived looked a little on the small side. The jus was far lighter than I had anticipated but the meat and baby vegetables on the side were all cooked very well. The suckling pig complete with sausage was a revelation with a much deeper flavour.
Pudding was kind of a no brainer. Looking through the menu listed superb sounding plates such as lemonade parfait, carrot cake, peppermint souffle with chocolate sorbet etc etc…or you could opt for a plate for two of all the desserts on the menu for just £10 extra. Decision made.
This arrangement is known as the ‘Assiette de l’Aubergine’ a reference to Gordon’s previous restaurant which held two stars. Before the behemoth of puddings landed on our table we got a pre-dessert of pineapple and chilli soup with a mascarpone foam. Delicious as it was it felt unusual drinking through a glass straw.
The most inviting looking plate touched down on our table. A beautiful array of sweet treats. Lemonade parfait, a chocolate cigar, carrot cake with a cream cheese ice cream and following on from that the peppermint souffle with chocolate sorbet and the famous tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream. My god.
Each and every bite was heaven, we ended up fighting each other to finish the plate. Special mention to the perfectly made souffle and the heavenly tarte tatin. Many criticise Ramsay for persisting with it on his menu but we can see why it’s there. Amazing flavour.
With petit fours arriving in the shape of strawberry ice cream balls covered with white chocolate and Jean-Claude threatening to sing happy birthday to me, I decided to get the bill. Our Maitre D had other ideas “I know you like food so I have arranged a little surprise for you” he said before disappearing. What then followed was a tour of the kitchen, moments before we went in one of the staff asked if we needed a taxi, we accepted and left it with them.
I had to be careful not to knock into any of the waiters carrying trays of food out into the restaurant but before I knew it we were standing face to face with Clare and her team. These guys really push themselves day in day out and you can see how spotlessly clean the place is. I thanked Clare for a top meal and after a little chat with Jean-Claude we said our goodbyes. Our final bill rolled in at £275 ($355.62 US) very reasonable for two a-la-carte menu’s, a bottle of gewurztraminer and service on top.
As if by magic our taxi was outside and it really hit home how good these people are at their jobs and providing an experience like we never ever had before whilst eating out. Gordon Ramsay is a self-confessed perfectionist and strives for the highest standards on a daily basis. Don’t let the foul mouth and false antics on the U.S shows fool you, this is a guy who knows how to deliver the best. It really was the perfect experience and still to this day ranks up there in top spot.
Opening Times: Monday – Friday 1200-1415
Nearest Tube: Sloane Square