F*cking good! (Restaurant Gordon Ramsay)

2nd course seared scallop

We went to Gordon Ramsay’s 3 Michelin star flagship restaurant on Royal Hospital Road–one of Restaurant Magazine’s Top 50 restaurants in the world. It consistently lands in the top 20, and in 2005 and 2004, it was one of the top 10 restaurants in the world, keeping good company with El Bulli, Fat Duck, French Laundry and Pierre Gagnaire.

Gordon Ramsay has a sort of cult status in Britain–he takes up considerable real estate in the cookbook section of Foyles bookstore, and his TV show, The F Word (haha, the very obvious play on his tendency to swear–a LOT) has a brilliant following. Plus, he has at least 9 restaurants in London alone; in a sense, Ramsay is the culinary beacon of England. He burns bright and sometimes, angry.

Americans may know him from his television show, “Hell’s Kitchen” and his new restaurant in New York.

We arrived at Restarant Gordon Ramsay on Royal Hospital Road nearly 45 minutes early for our seating–usually, a bit of an awkward situation at restaurants. Our plans included sitting at the bar and waiting for our seat. At Gordon Ramsay? No problem. We were seated IMMEDIATELY, to our great delight.  (Later, during our chat with the staff, we found that the restaurant normally only does one seating a night, holding that table for one party).

The restaurant is bright and spare–a chic modern space with clean lines, mirrored columns and unique light fixtures, all custom designed by Ramsay’s favorite interior designer. It is a relatively small space, one that seats about 44 covers (and the restaurant only does one seating a night). “Does Ramsay have a say in designing his spaces?” we later asked. The answer reflected a complete trust–No, he does not.

As we opened our menus, my dinner companion and I scanned the menu, perusing both the price fixe menu and the ala carte menu. Before we could ask, “Do we both have to order the price fixe?” the server announced, “You do not have to both order the price fixe”–then asking us for any food allergies. When I decided on the price fixe, he went further by asking if I wanted to make any substitutions to the menu (this is nearly unheard of!). (He further impressed us by asking which of us was hosting the dinner, quickly explaining that this was a courtesy, given that they did not want to make wrongful assumptions).

I gazed wide eyed, and quickly opened the menu back up to scan for any possible substitutions. No dice, every course sounded delish.

mozzarella balls at Gordon Ramsay

After we ordered, we were quickly introduced to several amuse bouche in splendid order. The first was a cornette that I quickly demolished before I bothered to take a picture of it–one with a caviar topping that swam delicious in my mouth. The second amuse bouche was a mozzarella cheese ball. All delightful–off to a great start.

May I say that all this while the service is seamless–a flood of servers upon us with light touches and a warm and friendly flair.

3rd amuse bouche

The third amuse bouche was a notable variation of English eggs and beans, which the server placed at our table with a vague description. So we could be surprised. Which we were: inside the eggshell, topped with tomato foam, were scrambled eggs, atop beans. Fascinating! We ate this with a spoon full of caramelized onions and nibbled on a chip with bacon in the middle.

The first course was a foie gras pate dish, and that was followed by the dish you see up above: seared scallops atop octopus with cauliflower foam and a parmesan veloute. Aside from being very pretty, it was a delicious start to the meal.

At this point, I stopped to take a peek at what my companion was eating, because his first course, a lobster ravioli bisque topped with truffle, arrived.

companion's lobster at Gordon Ramsay

It was, as you can see, something one could not ignore, and he tore into with gusto, stopping only to offer me a bite. It was delicious, a perfectly done piece of lobster meat.

My second course was a filet of wild turbot with coriander and carrot pappardelle in a butter sauce. The fish was simple and perfect, and the pappardelle were fascinating: carrots, shaved so thin, and folded and prepared just like pasta.


The steak was next, followed by a barrage of courses celebrating the meal finale–it was not unlike firework shows on the 4th of July, which also end with quite a bang.

Pre-dessert for me, involved picking from nearly 30 cheeses–for me, that was quite a lot of fun. My companion got a custard pre-dessert (the contents of which I cannot remember right now, sadly).

Companion's pre-dessert

Pre-dessert was not just one course, but two courses, as I was then presented with a glass of a foamy fruit drink topped with cayenne pepper. Hrm. I peered into the drink and heard a particular noise: that of popping. I held it up to my ear, as it talked to me, and when I sipped it, I recognized the distinct childhood sensation of pop-rocks. Yes, pop-rocks. They were popping in my mouth, cracking. Now, I happen to HATE pop-rocks so I stopped drinking right away–but on a cognitive level, I was delighted by the drink! I held it up to my ear for quite some time, listening to the crackle pop crackle of the drink.

pre-dessert, post cheese course

And finally–dessert. My dessert, off the price fixe menu, was a sorbet atop apple ice cream encased in chocolate. But I didn’t look at it, because my companion’s dessert was absolutely intoxicating. His toffee chocolate souffle with banana ice cream stole the show.

my companion's dessert: toffee chocolate souffle with banana ice cream

No sooner had we recovered from the decadence of dessert–the post-dessert treats began arriving in their delicate beautiful packages. First came chocolates:

post dessert treat #1: chocolates

And following what I like to call the “ball theme,” came strawberry ice cream encased in white chocolate, served in a container atop foggy dry ice.

post dessert treat #2

Alas, the turkish delight did not take the shape of balls, saving the restaurant from what would have been my unending giggling. The turkish delight was, however, incredible all the same–soft, just this side of gelatin’s consistency and insanely delicate.

post dessert treat #3

This was accompanied by the following drinks:
A 1998 Pauillac–Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
And a 99 Chateau d’Yquem and German riesling eiswein for the cheese and dessert courses.

We ended the meal with a lengthy and thoroughly enjoyable chat with the staff–one lengthy enough that we victoriously closed the restaurant.

What did we talk about? We talked about the meal, Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant venture in New York City, Anthony Bourdain, Bill Buford’s book Heat, the interior decor of the restaurant, its previous look, its current look, Parisian restaurants, the service at Gordon Ramsay, their approach to service. By the time we paid our bill and walked out the door (to a taxi called by the restaurant), we were in quite a happy sleepy stupor, feeling very much like we were the last guests leaving a friend’s house (after all, the restaurant is on a quiet street in Chelsea).

And thus, ends my write up. I was as exhausted by the meal as I was remembering it–a good exhausted mind you, but ready for bed all the same.

23 responses to “F*cking good! (Restaurant Gordon Ramsay)

  1. Just visiting from Mark’s. Amazing artestry with food. Wow. Almost too pretty to eat (but of course, not quite). Fabulous!

  2. Thanks Mark and Rosemary. 🙂

  3. Pingback: The Cult of Ramsay « gedblog

  4. karen and richard dyer

    Having just returned from this wonderful restaurant for our anniversary meal this weekend we are still in heaven from the most wonderful culinary experience. Everything was faultless from the service to the exquisite food and wine. We will certainly go again and recommened it to anyone who loves great food.

  5. To Gordon,
    Great rook salad on TV. Am a Kiwi living in Aberedeen area, and we shoot loads of those peasky things. Ignore the RSPB and carry on churning out those down to earth meals. Would be great if we got rook on a menu around here cos there`s about 1000 outside my window as we speak so anytime you want send me an e mail mate and I`m serious. Foody and cook 1/2 year when onshore.
    Dennis Batty

  6. I have to say–the meal at RGR was so great that every meal I’ve had out since then has paled in comparison. (And there’s the added bonus that it helped me get my appetite back (for better and for worse, says my waistline), something that had really been lagging for months in the wake of a weird health predicament of mine)
    Of course, I have yet to go to the French Laundry or El Bulli or The Fat Duck…but San Francisco has its share of great restaurants and still, many of them really lag in comparison!

  7. Sound’s wonderful
    I hope that one day I will try this myself…
    The lobster ravioli and the toffee chocolate souffle with banana ice cream sounds realy good.

  8. Pingback: Gordon Ramsay’s restaurang « Kockar och mat

  9. how much did all that wonderful ramsay food cost you?

  10. julian: I honestly don’t remember–I think I’m blocking that out…because it was the most expensive meal we have ever had. It was expensive to start, and then the GBP/American Dollar exchange rate made it worse. But, like I wrote, if you want to splurge on a meal in London, this is it.

  11. It is a different world isn’t it? In Gordon’s defense being a top chef is like being a brain surgeon. You need a strong ego and dominant personality. His doesn’t say anything you don’t hear everywhere these days. I have a new found respect for him after watching his new series of renovating nightmare restuarants. It makes you think twice about eating out in ordinary restaurants. But he does manage to revamp not just the restaurants but the recalcitrant employees for the most part.

  12. Pingback: Gordon Ramsay rules!!! « Kamelfotens jakt på det nya livet!

  13. WOW!!!! I can’t wait to eat here one day.

  14. Teddy & Anette

    We visited the restaurant 2 weeks ago when we stayed in London for a few days. It is a splendid and very special experience and we can recommend the restaurant to everyone who enjoys life and want a great experience with excellent food, very nice and personal service and finally a pricing level that is very fair -compared to overall experience.

  15. Jason and Gwen

    Thanks for the review!

    My mouth is watering from the pics.

    The wife and I have our anniversary dinner here in October, we can’t wait!

  16. dont they say in england “bloody good!” lol, the lobster and tubot look soooooooo good. i guess he’s earned the attitude 😉

  17. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  18. What we did like :

    We went for the “menu degustation”. Some of the dishes were very good (eg. Beef Wellington, Panna Cotta).

    What we didn’t like :

    Globally, we were completely dumbfounded that the Michelin awards 3 stars to this restaurant.

    At the time of booking, the restaurant asked for payment by credit card of around £500 as an “advanced booking fee” since we were 5 people. I suspect this is to build up the feeling of booking with a “low-cost airline” that one would expect from Michelin starred establishments.

    We were literally rubbing elbows with the people on the table next door. I can understand that Mr. Ramsey likes to maximise the profits on his investment, but is that really what we should expect from a 3 star restaurant?

    The service was incredibly slow. The staff were clearly too concerned about those who had come for the lunch menu and had forgotten about others like us who had foolishly opted for the “menu degustation”. This meant that the poor waiters felt they had to fill up our glasses literally after each sip – which as a result was incredibly annoying.

    The sommelier was completely disinterested and either didn’t feel like informing us about the wines, or perhaps didn’t know. In any case he was useless.

    The “maitre d’hôtel” was not at all genuine, he should take smiling lessons. Furthermore, he told us that the chef could prepare for us a Beef Wellington with truffles as an alternative to the main dish in the menu. Either they forgot the truffles, or the chap was telling tales. That said, the Beef Wellington was very good even without the truffles.

    As they had forgotten about us, we were the last to finish our meal at around 4-5pm. It is often the case that when we treat ourselves to 3 star restaurants, meals wind up around 4-5pm so this is usually not a problem. Here, however, it was made very clear that they wanted us to leave – they brought us the bill before we asked for it and they informed us that they needed to prepare the table for the evening. This I have never experienced before in a Michelin 3 star restaurant. Astonishing!

    We are big fans of the Michelin Guide, and continue to use it as a reference for other countries. However, the fact that Michelin UK has felt it appropriate to award this Gordon Ramsey restaurant 3 stars for so many years completely discredits their reputation and very much calls into question the rating by the Michelin of other establishments in the capital, if not also elsewhere in the UK.

  19. Impressive Article , I considered it special

    I look forward to more great postings like this one. Does This Blog have a RSS I can subscribe to for anymore information from you?

  20. Pingback: The Cult of Ramsay

  21. Earlier this year 2012, I ate at Gordon Ramsay. Clare gave me the best meal I have ever had. Back there again in November. Gordons the best!
    Great pics and write up, by the way.

  22. The tasting menu blew us away! So Good everyone should eat at Gordon Ramsay at least once.

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