Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
I had been waiting for Thursday for a long time. A while ago Ramsey asked me if I could give him a date on which we could do something for my birthday over the summer. He had an idea but would need to book up early. Now, anybody reading this who knows me may know that my birthday is in November so it would seem strange to you that we celebrated it this week. There is method in the madness, I promise. In November I will be in Germany and hence will not be around to celebrate, particularly as it is during the week. Furthermore, Ramsey is likely to be away when I am home for Christmas so we couldn’t do it then.
In the past when he has arranged surprises, his excitement has meant that sometimes the secret has got out before he had planned. However, I remained totally clueless until I was standing outside where we were going. I had been told that we were going into London and that I had to dress smartly. I was to dry clean his suit so that he would look smart too and make sure that I had my railcard as he had prebooked train tickets. We didn’t need to take food with us because we would grab some while we were out and we needed to be where we were going by 12pm. I was told yesterday that we were going to Sloane Square but I was still none the wiser. In fact, even standing outside I wasn’t completely sure as it seemed so understated.
I turned to Ramsey expectantly and he told me that we were going to Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, one of only 4 restaurants in the UK with 3 Michelin stars. WOW. I had never really been anywhere posh before, never eaten gourmet food. Boy did that change today! When we walked through the understated black door (no menu outside this restaurant!) we entered a subtle but plush room. There were lots of mirrors, flowers and smartly dressed staff. I had never been anywhere like it but instantly felt welcome. Entering the dining room, I was surprised. The scene was a lot simpler than I had expected with no pictures on the walls and and very little colour with a beige sort of theme. However, it was neat and clearly designed so as not to distract any attention from the food. We asked to see the wine list and received a leather-bound book. Now, we both know far to little about wine to have any hope of making sense of this but elected for a bottle of Sancerre, one of only a few that I knew we would like. Rams had envisioned that we would have the Menu Prestige which had 7 courses. Having glanced at the menu I instantly agreed and we both giggled in anticipation about what was to come.
First, we were offered a selection of bread. I chose a black olive bread and a brown sourdough with Rams choosing a rosemary and potato variety. All were absolutely stunning. Even the butter was impressive! We were offered two choices, salted or unsalted and they came on little dishes, peppered and in the shape of bee hives.
We were then served an amuse bouche. All I can say about that is that it was immaculate. It was beautifully presented with flowers and green dots round the edge. As the tomato consommé was poured into my dish, the green dots smeared into lines, a lovely detail. It certainly amused my bouche!
Then our Menu Prestige began. We started with pressed foie gras with peppered Madeira jelly, smoked duck, new season rhubarb and blood orange. It was also served with a brioche toast. The dish was perfectly balanced with the toast also not overly sweet, complimenting the sweet tastes of the fruits and jelly.
We then had the ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon poached in a light bisque with a chervil velouté which was also stunning. We were told my our waiter and by the host that it is a signature Ramsay dish and has been on the menu since they opened. I’m not surprised as it was arguably the most lusted-over dish which we tried. I must comment now on the service. It was absolutely impeccable. I couldn’t fault it. Our drinks were never anything less than full, our table was cleared and cleaned after every course and the dining room seemed to be designed to allow the waiters and waitresses to move with military presision around the tables. I could only watch in awe and blush in the knowledge that my waitressing skills leave a lot to be desired!
We were then served Isle of Gigha halibut with Atlantic King crab, cauliflower couscous, finger lime and ras el hanout infused broth. I’m not going to pretend that I know what all those things are but I do know that it was beautiful. The waiter got us to smell the broth before he poured it and the aromas took me by surprise. It smelt of Moroccan spices and tasted delicious.
We had a choice for our main course, suckling pig, crispy belly, roasted loin, homemade sausage, chou farci with crushed potatoes and spring onions or roasted pigeon from Bresse with grilled polenta, smoked ventrèche and date sauce. Rams had the pork, I the pigeon and we were both more than satisfied! I don’t usually like my meat pink but when the waiter had said that the chef likes to cook it medium rare, I decided I knew far too little about food to argue with 3 Michelin stars. I was not disappointed and it was wonderful, as was the date sauce that came with it. Ramsey was equally happy with his pork, barely resisting licking the plate!
We had a choice again for the palate cleanser and both chose the mango, jasmine and passion fruit soup. It was served in lovely glasses with glass straws for us to drink them with. It was unlike anything I have ever tasted and the jasmine worked wonderfully. There was even a fromage frais foam on the top which may have even been better than the ‘soup’ itself!
Agen prune crème brûlée with Granny Smith apple juice was the next course and it was my favourite course of the day. The crème brûlée was exquisite, no scrambled egg to be seen! The apple juice was something else though. The only way I can describe it (and this is going to sound ridiculous) is that it tasted like green apples. It was like eating an apple in liquid form. Absolutely delicious!
The final course (we thought) of our wonderful meal was the lemonade parfait with honey, bergamot and sheep’s milk yoghurt sorbet. The honey was is an immaculate tuile which it broke my heart to break (but it was far too tempting to leave uneaten!). The parfait was really fizzy, just like lemonade and the sheep’s milk sorbet was beautiful. It was the perfect way to finish the meal as although it was still incredibly luxurious, a cold lemon dish was the just right. We realised afterwards that Tom on Masterchef had attempted to make this dish under Claire Smyth’s guidance and I feel privaledged to have tried it!
A few minutes after they had cleared our plates a mysterious steaming box arrived. Apparently this is another Ramsay signature but of course, I hadn’t done any research in advance. Inside the box were white chocolates with strawberry ice cream inside being kept cool with liquid nitrogen. Also brought over was a little tray with rose flavoured turkish delight and chocolate truffles. Turkish delight has always been a guilty pleasure of mine and the truffles were wonderfully dark. They even brought me a raspberry sorbet with dark chocolate drizzled over it and a lit candle which was a wonderful detail :). I had a green tea which was better than any other than I’d had previously and shortly afterwards the main host offered us more chocolates as it was my birthday which we gladly accepted.
As you can probably tell, today’s meal was the best I have ever eaten. I had often watched cooking shows and gasped at how beautiful the food looked but I had no idea that the food could taste so good! While we were relishing our second round of steaming chocolates, the host came over and offered us a chance to look in the kitchen. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited, as was Rams and it was a wonderful experience to see the other side. So many of the chefs were very young and every work surface was beautifully clean. Despite being the middle of service, not a thing seemed out of place. It was lovely to be in a place so sure of itself that they were as happy to show us behind the scenses at they were to show us the main show. The host, Jean-Claude (I wonder where he’s from!), was just lovely and even offered to take a photograph of us in the kitchen :).
All in all, I cannot fault anything about the day. The meal we had has risen skyscrapers above any other meal I have had in the past. The restaurant itself was a delight to behold with every small detail thought of: individual flannels in the bathroom and silky toilet paper, wine coolers away from the table and not in the way, air conditioning that we didn’t even notice, keeping the room comfortably cool but not cold and not making a sound. Everything was perfect. After the meal even, it was such a lovely day that we just sat in Sloane Square for an hour enjoying the sunshine and excitedly reminiscing about what we had had. We had been so excited when we first looked at the menu that neither of us could remember what was coming so every course was an enchanting surprise. As you can imagine I’m sure, it was an expensive lunch and not for anything less than a special occasion. But Ramsey assures me it was so worth it and I have to agree. I can’t remember a better celebration and wouldn’t change anything. Our naivety only made it better too. It was lovely to celebrate my coming of age with a grown-up event which made us giggle like children. I would recommend it over and over and I hope to return within my lifetime!