Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gordon Ramsay at the London


This weekend, I had the pleasure of eating at Gordon Ramsay at the London. It was my second time in the main dining room. The first time, I loved it. I had eaten at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge'sand found it to be the best meal of my life. To this day, the meal was astounding, the lamb was super-star status, I love this man and what he and his restaurants do with food.

This was no different. We had some fun and interesting cocktails when we arrived. Mine was way too strong to drink more than an ounce, but my friend had a sweet and herbaceous pink thing that I was drooling for. I would go back and sit in the bar for that.

We ordered the tasting menu with almost no substitutions. Everyone but myself went for the warm foie gras and I have no idea what it tasted like because they all inhaled it. I enjoyed my cold foie gras with honeycomb on top but found it somewhat non-discript. I confess I have been limiting my foie gras consumption as of late. Not for reasons that would please PETA or anything. Just that my work at the gym cannot even begin to compensate for something so rich. Still, it was good. Really good.

Next up were the scallops. They had crispy crushed corn, caramel and a perfect golden brown top. My friend and I looked immediately over at the caramel and became nervous. Top Chef, having just finished, had a very excited episode this season in which someone was positively crucified for putting butterscotch all over their scallops.

In this case, the caramel was unnecessary, but not an huge intrusion. I would have liked the puffed corn and the scallops on their own. Still, the scallops themselves were perfectly cooked, and the textures of all of the plate components were terrific contrasts.

The Bacon Haddock was a great dish! The haddock itself was well cooked and perfectly understated, making way for the creamy, thick bacon Jus and the bacon bit crust on top. It was as if bacon had taken on an entirely new, haddock texture. I had a bit of a scuff with the waiter here because Jack asked me what a “Jus” was and when I replied that it was a stock or meat dripping that had been reduced or had very little done to it, the waiter said only half under his breath. “A Jus is a sauce that has been altered or worked on but certainly not reduced.” Give me a break!

For the meat course, the ladies and gentlemen of the table differed. Jack took one bite of his lamb and informed me that it was about to blow my mind. “This is going to kick those short ribs right off your plate.” He was right that the lamb was very good. Meaty texture, a fennel rub that gave new flavors and a good crunch to the meat. Too the ladies’ short ribs were that much better.

They were soft and succulent. Melting against the fork. The sauce (we all questioned it’s Jus-status) was thick and added depth and mystery. This dish won the evening. It was as all good short ribs should be; completely decadent.

The cheese cart is always fun. Especially for me. When I was working at Murray’s, the call came in that Gordon Ramsay wanted to get cheese from us. It wasn’t a huge deal since everyone got cheese from us. Still, the restaurant somehow managed to order enough cheese that they had their own section in the caves. We would be completely out of Constant Bliss and know that there was a beautiful rack of perfect rounds in the caves that were completely off limits.

Needless to say, I am familiar with almost every cheese on the Gordon Ramsay cart. I used to eat my weight in cheese every day that I worked at Murray’s. The fromagier/waiter (I often think it would be the most amazing job in the world to be just the cheese cart guy), was about as enthusiastic as I’ve ever seen anyone about anything. He was surprised that I knew the animal, farm, name and brief history of each cheese, but then more excited than anything to show just how much he knew. He even told us that he comes in an hour early every day just to get to know the cart and that even though there is not an assigned fromagier, he jumps for it every time someone needs cheese.

We each had a delicious plate of creamy, crumbly, or runny goat, cow or sheep cheese. Lucky for me, they had all of my favorites. Constant Bliss, Selle-Sur-Cher, Langres, Pyrenees Brebis. Oh boy do I miss cheese.

Dessert was the Apple Tatin. It had been baked on its head for an hour and a half and was incredibly caramelized and warmed through in a way that says apple cider in front of a fire with fifteen feet of snow. I might have preferred to have that experience in late fall or early winter, but it was comforting none the less.

I would go back to this place many more times. The food is good, the d├ęcor is simple, the exit signs are way too bright, the service is clean and efficient (perhaps a bit impolite) and we had another great time.

Too bad the show isn’t holding up as well as the restaurant.