Thursday, July 15, 2010

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay Review

Finally, a few moments to knock out the promised review of "Gordon Ramsay"; the restaurant. It appears that Chef Ramsay has a few restaurants in London, but we decided to go to the one that bears his name. My girlfriend and I went restaurant 'Gordon Ramsay' a few days after the Chelsea Flower Show ended, ingress into the latter had been unceremoniously denied as we had not bought tickets in advance. Like months in advance! Who knew? I had rather imagined we would be able to waltz right on in. Wrong. So note to myself, next time secure tickets to the show, many moons in advance. With respect to Gordon Ramsay, aforesaid restaurant; I did make reservations months before, so that when we showed up at the appointed time on the appointed day in early June, we were expected and welcomed. This, in and of itself, is a wonderful feeling. Naturally, being fans of his shows, we arrived with Michelin scoring cards in hand and promptly started evaluating the experience. First off, the decor is really odd; maybe it was chic in Tehran in the sixties, but the odd glossy white panelling and mirrors and chintzy curtains threw me off. Most disturbing was a light fixture appended to a column that was comprised of steel rods capped with small perspex balls. Then, the tight fitting mess jackets cut at the waist that most of the waiters were attired in seemed also part of the sixties inspired chic; however these signature outfits looked as though they were formerly worn by LNER waiters in the First Class dining car aboard the Flying Scotsman in its steam locomotive heyday.
One aspect of the decor that was most tasteful, timeless really and as apropos today as in the sixties, were the extremely simple but elegant white vases filled with blooms of pure white roses similar to 'Iceberg'.
We ordered from the a la carte menu, although there is an option to order a tasting suite of dishes. I am glad that we did as the portions seemed small., or rather petite. I say that because the waiters all talked with French accents. This would be fine if they were from France but quite a few of them would occasionally lapse into guttural English, which stimulated visions that a Basil Fawlty was in the kitchen in charge of social graces and restaurant service.
So these are my initial impressions, prior to tasting and eating the food, which is after all why we had come to the restaurant.
Before the appetizers arrived we were surprised by an amuse-bouche, a rather delicious savory cornet, which was, I think stuffed with artichoke and crab, and rather delicious. Mine exploded when I ate one half,and it could potentially rather ruin someone's clothes if they were unlucky. By the time the first course arrived the scorecard was generously filled with question marks and exes.
As our waiter informed us in library-level french, we had selected two of Ramsay's classiques. I had ordered the Lobster Ravioli and my girlfriend had chosen the Scallops with Gnocchi. The ravioli, singular, was delicious; a light pasta pillow somehow stuffed to bursting point (but without a breach) with a generous portion of lobster accompanied with a creamy sauce. Pretty good; score 7 out of 10. My girlfriend's selection was impressive; the combination of flavors delighted the palate and the gnocchi were truly ambrosia, the lightest and best I have ever had. Score 9 out of 10.
Then something happened, and though I am not sure what, the change was almost one of alchemy, and my girlfriend and I enjoyed one of our most memorable evenings together in our relationship. The unrelenting attentive and knowledgeable service that was never intrusive, combined with really wonderful food allowed us to feel truly pampered. It was very weird, to say the least. We stopped scoring, and simply enjoyed our selves and savored the entire experience. Once in a while the French veneer of one or two of the waiters would crack and an English turn of phrase would be dropped, and for an instant there was fleeting thought that the whole operation was being run by a bunch of chancers, but I would chalk that up to my mild paranoia.
So was it the greatest food  that I have ever had? No - but ask me how was the experience; and I can definitively say that it was one the most enjoyable evenings that I have spent in a long time.    

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