* Please note that this review has been written retrospectively and was of a time when I didn’t feel comfortable taking photographs of food in restaurants. *
My first genuine fine-dining experience was at 3 Michelin starred flagship restaurant of Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea.
At the time it was considered to be the second best restaurant in the country by almost everybody, just behind The Fat Duck who had jumped ahead due to their incredible inventiveness. There is no Snail Porridge or Nitro poached bacon at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay but there is exceptional quality, classic French style fine dining in a wonderful setting with unrivaled level of service.
From the moment we pulled up outside in a taxi to the moment we left we didn’t lift a finger. The restaurants doorman appeared to greet us, opening our taxi door and then holding the restaurant door open for us.
The decor is modern, stylish and very elegant. It was like nothing i’d ever seen before and years later I have still yet to see anything better. The restaurant was much smaller than I expected, I think only around 15 tables. No wonder it had been so difficult to get a reservation!
The Maitre d’ Jean-Claude Breton was the most charming man I had ever met and the rest of his staff worked like clockwork to ensure that we always had the right amount of wine or water, if we needed to leave the table somebody was there to help with out chair, to open toilet doors. It was an unreal experience for me at the time and despite eating at some of the best restaurants in the world since that level of service has never been matched.
Food wise I ate what remains one of my all time favourite starters ‘Ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon’. Two beautiful, delicate looking ravioli made from the thinnest and lightest pasta filled with an utterly delicious combination of perfectly poached lobster, langoustine and salmon. They were surrounded by a delicately light bisque of seafood and lemongrass I think although the details are a little hazy I know how much I enjoyed it.
My partner had stupidly ordered a dish made up of raw fish despite not liking raw fish and being warned by the waiter that it contained raw fish. The carpaccio arrived looking simply stunning, a chess board made up of intricate squares of thin fish. The dark squares were tuna and the light some sort of white fish. The staff immediately noticed that she wasn’t happy and despite the fact that they’d warned her before she ordered they offered to bring her a Ravioli of lobster too which she gratefully accepted and enjoyed as much as I did.
Main courses are unfortunately a little hazy too. I know that mine was a roast pigeon breast with mushrooms and other autumnal vegetables which suited the season and weather perfectly. The pigeon was perfectly moist and pink and it was a great dish.
My partner had a monkfish tail wrapped in confit duck which was again cooked to perfection. Unfortunately neither of us remember what accompanied it.
We do remember the complimentary ‘Pineapple champagne cocktail’ though, not only because it was delicious but because it contained popping candy which was a huge surprise and something that I had almost forgotten existed.
For dessert we both ordered a Chocolate Soufflé which to this day is still the best soufflé i’ve ever had. It looked beautiful, perfectly risen and it was rich, deep chocolate flavour but as light as a feather.
As already mentioned the service was immaculate, other lovely little touches include asking which diner is the guest as they receive a menu without any prices on and at the end of the meal I was taken to the side to pay the bill rather than having a card machine thrown in my face at the table like many restaurants tend to do.
It was incredibly expensive, especially for me at the time but even then it was worth every penny.
Since my visit the restaurant seems to have fallen out of favour with many people, partly because it doesn’t appear to have progressed or evolved very much but I think mainly because there is a trend for more innovative food and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is still serving unashamedly classic dishes. I visited again in 2010 and despite a few of the dishes remaining from this visit it 2006 I had a fantastic time once again. It’s also worth nothing that the restaurant has retained it’s 3 Michelin stars and in the Good Food Guide Top 5.
Date of visit: 14/09/2006.