Gordon Ramsay once said that his Royal Hospital Road is his pride and joy, if all goes bottoms up then he always has that baby. Only open Monday to Friday it's also the hardest place to get a table, and at up to £120 a meal for just lunch, the costliest of his restaurants. To secure a coveted table one needs to ring exactly one month in advance, and to secure the table give them your credit card details and should you not show, they can at their discretion, deduct £100 per person for the meal missed. It's all phrased very courteously but you get the feeling that they wouldn't hesitate in doing so.
Dear sister of NQN,
Firstly let me thank you for your interest in Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
I am pleased to confirm your table reservation at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, located at 68 Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4HP as follows:
Where guests wish to make a reservation, it is the restaurants policy to secure the booking with their credit card details. In the event that the booking is cancelled in whole or in part by you with less than 24 hours notice or results in a no-show it will be at the discretion of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay to charge £100 per person to your credit card.
We are sorry that this has become a requirement but, regrettably, our experience dictates this precaution. We would be grateful if you could indicate your acceptance by completing and returning this form in order to confirm your booking by fax on 020 7592 1213
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, we will have to release the table if we have not received the completed form within 48 hours.As we will call you a day before to reconfirm, may I ask you for a contact number where we will be able to reach you on the working day prior to your reservation. Cancellations must be made in writing and sent by fax to 020 7592 1213 or by e-mail to email@example.com
Verbal cancellations cannot be accepted.
We very much look forward to welcoming you at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
On Behalf of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
The night before, we were left a rather firm sounding voicemail that we were expected at a certain time. The outside of the restaurant is understated elegance, with a simple plaque outside the door and a simple white building as befits the upmarket Chelsea area it resides in. Walking through the corridor there is a small area for guests to wait which also has many copies of his 3 Star chef book for those to read. There is no waiting though as service is brisk, they know who we are and lead us to our table. As it's earlyish (12.30pm) the dining room room is about half full but within half an hour, all tables are full of diners.
The manager Jean-Claude Breton is a smoothie, reminiscent a little of Jerry Orbach. He asks us who is "hosting" the table to which we reply "Umm no-one". Ahh ok not a problem, he smiles and hands us all menus. My sister and I don't have prices on our menu but my husband has prices in his which is a first. It's a nice touch if someone is hosting the table so that other guests feel more comfortable ordering without keeping watch of the price.
On the first pages are the a la carte menu featuring ravioli or lobster, langoustine and salmon poached in a light bisque with a lemongrass and chervil veloute as well as slow braised pied de cochon pressed then pan fried with ham knuckle, poached quail's egg and hollandaise sauce as well as other fantastic sounding dishes. These can be had for £120. There is also following a menu Prestige or a tasting menu made up of 7 smaller dishes for £90. Then there is the Menu of the day, with 3 courses for £45.
Bread with salted and unsalted butter
We order a bit of everything from the Menu of the Day so that everyone can taste all of the dishes. Whilst we are waiting we receive salted and unsalted butter and are asked if we would like olive, white or brown sourdough bread. The olive is my husband's favourite whilst the white sourdough thickly slathered with salted butter is my sister's and mine. The service from the staff is wonderful, quiet and unobtrusive but anticipatory of your needs.
An amuse bouche arrives, a tomato consomme flavoured with coriander. It's poured at the table and is intensively sweet with ripe tomatoes.
After a very brief wait, our entrees arrive. My quail and wild mushroom pithivier with confit leg and celeriac remoulade looks wonderful, like a mini igloo of pastry stuffed with tender quail and mushrooms. The confit leg of quail is a delicate morsel of sweet quail and I always love a remoulade although it's never been as perfect looking as this. Interestingly, when you dishes arrive, they all arrive at the same time, and the person who sets it down in front of you will lean in and almost whisper a description of your meal to you. My sister finds it funny that it's whispered to each of us although I think it's part of the subtle and discreetly elegant service.
The yellow fin tuna and swordfish tartar with cucumber, dill, quail's egg and caviar is so prettily and intricately laid out with it's ring of thinly sliced halved cucumber it's almost too pretty to eat. But of course we do, with the accompanying toast and it's delicious with the softly boiled quail's egg lending a languorous quality to it.
The confit of organic salmon with a salad of tomato, olives and cucumber and baby gem lettuce is lovely and crisp on the skin but tender and barely cooked in the centre, the way I like it. It's surrounded by a creamy gazpacho which is poured at the table.
Our mains arrive after a break and the sauces are poured onto the mains at the table. The first is a glistening Aged rib of Casterbridge beef, fondant potato, bone marrow, caramelised shallots and red wine sauce. It's a generous serve with almost a dozen slices of the beef although on a couple of slices the fatty part is a little too chewy. The fondant potato is marvellous, stuffed with two perfect pieces of delicious bone marrow. I only wish there was more potato to go with the beef it's so good.
The Braised milk-fed Suffolk pork belly, caramelised endive, apple, grelot onions and Madeira jus comes in two round discs of juicy pork belly. It tastes almost like a confit in that wonderful juicy yet soft meat falling apart kind of way. The grelot onions are like tiny ends of the eschallot and the Madeira jus goes perfectly with this.
Fillet of Royal daurade with artichokes barigoule, navet, carrots, radish, baby gem lettuce and chervil butter sauce
The Fillet of Royal Daurade with artichokes barigoule, navet, carrots, radish, baby gem lettuce and chervil butter sauce is admittedly not my favourite dish, the white fish needing some seasoning and a personal preference of mine is to have the skin burnished, not as silver although it is not bad by any means, just not as comparatively good as the other two mains.
Of course my favourite part of Gordon's 3 star chef cookbook was the desserts so I am waiting for this course with a lot of anticipation. My Chocolate and lavender tart with toasted milk mousse and milk ice cream looks as pretty as a picture.
The toasted milk mousse is toasted under a grill (or blow torch most probably) and is still slightly bubbling when we get it. The tart isn't particularly strongly lavender flavoured but the toasted milk mousse and vanilla bean milk ice cream is a lovely complement and the little "flowers" are delicate crunchy accents.
The Pear tarte tatin with walnut ice cream and raspberry sauce is simply breathtaking with detail surrounded by halved raspberries in perfect condition (whenever I've tried to cut a raspberry it turns into mush) surrounded by a raspberry coulis and a sweet clear jelly border. The vanilla bean ice cream is heady with vanilla and wonderfully creamy and I savour and enjoy every bite of this dessert.
The last dessert, a Rum baba with strawberry and Chantilly cream arrives, glisteningly huge and puffed up. The centre is like a tender brioche soaked in syrup and the accompanying small jug of rum and Chantilly cream complements it. Even my husband who doesn't like spongey cakes is enamoured of this although we do go lightly on the rum.
We're entirely stuffed by now so we forego the coffee and tea and instead we are given our "space agey" looking dark chocolate truffles, dusted on the outside with silver dust. They're stuck on the ends of the silver display and turning a truffle and popping one in your mouth is a treat not to be missed as they are sublime. If only they sold these I'd be buying displays of this for gifts.
And if the experience wasn't fabulous enough, we get another surprise, another dessert, brought out to us in a cloud of dry ice. Presentation like this doesn't get any better and when the lid of the silver container is opened and dry ice clouds erupt around it we can't wait to peek inside to see what they reveal... and it is white chocolate coated strawberry ice cream truffles! We pop them into our mouths and they are so very, very good.
Jean-Claude, ever the gracious host, enquires about our photo taking and when we explain he offers us a visit to the hallowed kitchen. It's controlled but extremely busy and hot (well ok the last two points were obvious) where everyone is busy plating together these wonderful dishes. And of course it's clean as a whistle, after watching so many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares, that is the first thing I looked at. And they thoughtfully give us a copy of the menu. I can definitely picture the ladies swooning over the food as well as Gordon himself.
And for those who love Gordon (and who doesn't nowadays?), we also ventured to another of his restaurants, Petrus, so stay tuned for that story :)
To see Gordon at the Sydney Good Food and Wine Show click here
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
68 Royal Hospital Road
T: 020 7352 4441
F: 020 7352 3334
Set lunch 3 courses for £45
A la carte 3 courses for £90
Menu prestige 7 courses for £120
Reservations are taken by telephone on the above number exactly two calendar months prior to the requested booking date. They do not accept reservations by fax or email.
Lunch 12.00pm 2.30pm
Dinner 6.30pm 11.00pm
Smart with jackets preferred for gentlemen. Jeans, T-shirts or sportswear not accepted.
All major credit cards.
Smoking is not permitted.