Ten Michelin Stars, Four Days – Part Four (of Four!)
Ask me what my favourite restaurant is and you will be met with a dumbfounded look. This straight-forward question is a minefield of broken expectations and countless forkfuls for the true foodie. Until now, I would have stared at you in disbelief – unable to comprehend how you could have asked such a painful question.
I have now seen the light. No more subconscious wrangling of heart over mind. No more digging to the deep recesses of my brain desperately searching for a missing flavour. The response is automatic, I no longer have to think.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is my favourite restaurant.
I first visited Royal Hospital Road four years ago. The small restaurant left a big impression – absolutely faultless, show-stopping cooking matched by the finest service you will ever receive, anywhere. I subsequently dined last year and again last month.
The conservative dining room, small and intimate, is a wonder. Koffman-era mirrors adorn the beige walls and tables appear generously spaced. Atmosphere is delivered in spades. Before jumping to the food, I must take time to praise front of house. Headed by the marvelous Jean-Claude, the team are perhaps the most passionate you will ever have the pleasure of dining with. Service is discrete and professional yet admirably friendly. Service of this standard truly makes a meal and plays a fundamental role in determining a restaurant’s caliber.
The food? Incredible. Classic technique and, for the main, classic flavour combinations. Attention to detail is exemplary. The à la carte and prestige (7 course) menus showcase the best of these classical dishes, including the Restaurant’s signatures. The newly introduced ‘Seasonal Inspiration’ menu (7 course) is fabulous – using the best of seasonal produce to create impeccable dishes with under-used ingredients and flavour combinations.
I sampled the menu prestige on my first visit (I just had to) and the à la carte on my second. This visit I ate from the seasonal inspiration menu – the best of all three. The food was, as expected, faultless. I detail the most memorable dishes.
Amuse-Bouche of tomato essence was incredibly pure and refreshing. Beautifully presented.
Scottish Lobster Tail with lardo, vegetables à la grecque and coral vinaigrette was also refreshing. Lobster not quite as well cooked as at Alain Ducasse; however, the overall dish was far better executed. Good acidity was balanced by the rich lardo.
Pig’s Trotter stuffed with Veal Sweetbread, Parsley, Dijon Mustard, Warm Apple Sauce and ‘Waldorf Salad’. A standout dish. The pigs trotter meltingly tender and packed full of flavour. The skin had a texture similar to a Koffmann preparation and was perfect. Sweetbread mixture was well cooked – the flavour not lost amongst the other strong ingredients. Apple sauce had a good amount of acidity and the Dijon mustard gave richness and a little heat without overpowering.
Roasted Grouse with Trompette de la Mort, Livers on Toast, Alsace Bacon, Muscat Grapes and Smoked Chestnut Purée. Grouse was beautifully tender and expertly cooked. Liver threw a strong punch of iron which was curtailed by the grape. Bacon wasn’t too salty. Game chips were perfectly crisp. A beautiful, seasonal dish. Grouse is fast becoming my favourite game and was star of the show – the best grouse dish I have tasted. The perfect accompaniment to a 2004 Chateau Margaux!
Suckling Pig – Crispy Belly, Roasted Loin, Spiced Shoulder Sausage, Chou Farci with Crushed Potatoes and Spring Onions. This was a substitution dish from the menu prestige. Quality of the pork was incredible – sweet and tender. The belly was most impressive. Apple (raw and roasted) offered good texture. A very comforting, classic dish, expertly executed.
‘Cheese Course’ of Black Fig, Colstone Basset Stilton, Cobnut Granola and Ice Verjus. Brilliant. Black fig was sticky sweet and contrasted well with the salty stilton (which was fresh, rather than strong). Granola was super crunchy with real earthiness. Verjus was not overly acidic. A great alternative to the traditional cheese option.
Smoked Chocolate Cigar, Blood Orange, Cardamom Ice Cream. A perfect end to the meal. Rich with incredible attention to detail. The chocolate perfectly tempered. The smoked element did not show too much, but was evident. Cardamom ice cream was glorious.
Petit fours were amazing, the standout being small balls of super-sweet strawberry ice cream encased in white chocolate.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is delightful. The food, the service, the atmosphere – you could not hope nor wish to experience better. Alongside The Waterside Inn, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is flying the flag for British Gastronomy. The food may not break too many boundaries, but if impeccable cooking is what you desire, you could not find a more suited restaurant. It will take a restaurant of mighty caliber to knock Restaurant Gordon Ramsay off my top spot. If there is one place you should dine – it is Royal Hospital Road.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
Food (For Five): £775
Dress Code: Smart (Jackets for men)