Love or hate Gordon Ramsay, you can’t deny the fact that he’s the UK’s most decorated Michelin-star chef. His eponymous flagship on the Royal Hospital Road is the only British restaurant in London with three stars, an accolade it has retained since 2001. Add a list of extremely talented prodigies who themselves have their own stars and establishments to humble brag about, and a rather successful showbiz career, Gordon’s commercial success is more than commendable.
This year’s birthday dinner setting had to be somewhere trusted, after the slight disappointment from Marcus in 2017 (which dropped a star this year) and the quietness of Ormer in 2016. In the end, we opted for Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, because surely 18 years of Michelin-starred fame should do it, right?
Side story: Our reservation was up for 6.30pm – the old pensioners’ slot. However, I had a ‘mare heading to Chelsea from The City as rush hour traffic set in. By the time I got to Sloane Square it had started to rain. I didn’t have an umbrella nor could I find a cab until I had walked halfway. I was 45 minutes late and I felt gross. But I was still greeted respectfully and delightfully by the staff.
Once we got to our table, we ordered some celebratory champagne and were given some snacks.
Iberico pork tart – a well thought-out canapé which packed so much flavour in a bite.
Potato crisp with horseradish and salmon roe
Kingfish crumbed in nori flakes topped with shiso – the best of the snacks. Fresh sweet fish enhanced by the natural pungent taste of the shiso? I’m down.
Another amuse bouche: cheddar ale soup. This reminded me of the tunworth and salsify amuse bouche at Fera (Claridge’s) except it’s much lighter and frothier.
The Menu Prestige
We started with a baton of foie gras with figs, hazelnut and a teeny roll of smoked duck. The foie was not lost in all the sweetness, even pressed with a sliver of madeira jelly. In fact, this was a perfectly portioned and balanced foie gras dish.
Next up was a ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon with a sorrel velouté. If you ever opt for the a la carte menu, this is the one to get for starters.
That dish was generous, and the pasta was perfectly cooked. The light velouté was a refreshing touch and enhanced the sweetness of the filling. I loved the textures and the flavours in this dish. Absolutely stunning.
Our fish dish was a piece of Cornish turbot. I’m quite partial to this fish and I thought this was going to be a highlight for me. Frankly, I thought my plate was on the teensy side of over. However, I can’t fault the flavour profile of earthy ceps marrying beautifully with quite a meaty fish.
Also, can we just appreciate the detail that went into prepping those little mushrooms? I mean, I usually just randomly chop mine.
For mains, you can either opt for the pigeon or the lamb.
The pigeon came and frankly, I couldn’t help but compare it – at first sight – with my pigeon dish from Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. This seemed a bit more, er, portion-controlled (then again, we had a tasting menu) but a bit more intricate in prep. Crusted with a concoction of grains and served with a decent portion of foie gras, grilled corn and plum, I sighed and hoped it tasted as beautiful as it looked.
I was taken at first bite. For starters that rich, intense cut was so flavoursome I literally laughed loudly in disbelief. And that vivid pink, reflecting ridiculous culinary skills was… well… ridiculous. I’ve never liked pink, but this bird was a sight to behold. This was an absolute highlight for me.
The other option for main was a Herdwick lamb dish. Two chops, served with autumnal vegetables, and a mini navarin of other cuts.
Lamb won’t usually be my first choice of red meat. In all honesty, I actually dislike the stuff because of the aftertaste. This, however, was rather delicious and tender.
But I still preferred the pigeon.
Now, the next two items on the menu were sort of palate cleansers.
This blackberry and chamomile soup…
…and this lime and shiso sorbet.
Dessert was a lemonade parfait, in between dollops of bergamot jelly and a ring of honey tuille. It’s not particularly a dessert I would perhaps order myself (hello chocoholics of the world) but I can’t deny the quaintness of it.
To be fair, the parfait was smooth, light, and had well-balanced. It was creamy, almost bordering on milky, but teased with hints of tartness. And the jelly was quite a surprise. I had to stop myself from licking my plate.
And then there was this:
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful chocolate cake.
I made my birthday wish and asked to have the cake boxed for home. We were too full to eat, but a part of me couldn’t help but lust over that glistening square of cocoa.
Petit fours came in the form of coconut ice cream balls, blackcurrant jellies, and chocolate shards. It was a sweet ending, but not as sweet as the restaurant’s Maitre d’, Jean-Claude Breton.
JC invited us to the (impeccably tidy) kitchen where we saw a very busy team including resident chef de cuisine, Matt Abé. It was really fascinating to see how staff in a three-Michelin star kitchen work – there was a nice buzz but you sense rigour and concentration as well.
Wined and dined with a big birthday smile, JC and his team bid us adieu and I my cheeks hurt all night from feeling super special on my favourite day of the year.
Oh, and that cake? ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.