In 1998 Gordon Ramsay opened his eponymous restaurant on Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea and in 2001 it was awarded three Michelin stars – the highest possible. Now chef patron Clare Smyth is the only female in the UK to hold such status.
The recently refurbed dining room was absolutely beautiful. It’s only a small space seating 45 or so but it was flooded with natural light and the upholstered chairs and plush carpets made for a very comfortable place to sit.
We decided to skip the set lunch menu priced at £55 for three courses and ordered from the a la carte which was £95 with a more exciting choice for each course – you’ve got to treat yourself sometimes eh! As you can imagine, it ain’t a cheap place to go for lunch. I started things off with a mango juice and although it was the best juice I’ve ever tasted it was £10 a glass! Crikey O’Reilly!
A generous offering of bread started proceedings and was totally divine. The potato bread along with the bacon and onion brioche served with salted or unsalted butter was moreishly good.
An amuse bouche was next; pea mousse with pickled vegetables and ricotta which was a vibrantly summery looking dish. It was like eating something straight from the garden – the crunchy vegetables and the strong pea mousse were full of flavour.
To start I decided to order a dish that has been on the menu, in one way or another, since RGR opened; slow braised pied cochon (that’s pigs trotters) pressed then pan fried with ham knuckle, poached quail’s egg and hollandaise sauce. It was a rich and fatty delight; a totally porky flavour sensation! The knuckle, trotters and black pudding made for a really filling starter.
My gentleman companion went for the pressed foie gras, smoked and confit duck with Tasmanian mountain pepper, pickled pears and pain d’épices. My photos really don’t do the food justice – it looked absolutely beautiful. Pain d’épices is a French type of spiced bread which was perfect for spreading that delectably smooth foie gras all over. The tangy pears added a sharpness which contrasted the rich foie wondrously.
For main I decided to stick with the porky theme and went for the suckling pig which featured crispy belly, roasted loin, spiced shoulder sausage, chou farci with crushed potatoes and spring onions. Chou farci is a stuffed cabbage – which is far tastier than it sounds trust me! The quality of the pork and its cooking was sublime and some of the finest I’ve tasted.
My gentleman companion opted for the Cotswold lamb and spring vegetable “Navarin”, best end, braised shank, confit breast and shoulder with wild and new season garlic. The best end, or rack, was a generous hunk of lamb which was cooked to tender perfection and the fat melted like butter. The flavour combinations were fairly simple but expertly prepared and cooked.
Next was a little pre-dessert which both looked and tasted stunning; shiso, apple, avocado mousse and lime sorbet. It was a strange and unusual blend of ingredients which worked really well together; savoury, sweet and tangy flavours harmonising perfectly.
For dessert, on recommendation from our waiter, we decided to order the assiette de l’Aubergine which was an assortment of miniature versions of all the puddings available on the menu (sounds like my kind of pud!). We were blown away by the beauty of every single dish we were presented with. I’ll start with the simpler items; the creme brûlée and tart tatin. Both were exquisitely good. The coconut soufflé was the lightest we’ve ever tasted; it was delectable. The accompanying mandarin and lime sorbet was in tangy contrast to the sweet coconut.
The smoked chocolate cigar with blood orange and cardamom ice cream looked like a work of art. The chocolate cigar had a real smokey flavour which was really clever and most unusual.
It doesn’t end there, oh no! The lemon parfait was the perfect balance between sweet and sour, the blackcurrant, fennel and yoghurt genoise (sponge cake) was a fruity little number which enlivened my tastebuds and the bitter chocolate cylinder with coffee granite and ginger mousse was a flavour-marriage made in heaven. And speaking of heaven, I thought I’d died and gone to it. What an exceptional array of desserts!
We were then invited into the kitchen to meet Clare herself, which is a lovely touch that we’ve experienced in nearly all of Gordon’s restaurants. She was a really lovely lady – what a great way to end a great meal.
We sat back down to be greeted with a final flurry of tastiness; some strawberry ice cream truffles encased in white chocolate. Quick, someone test me for diabetes! They sat atop a dish of dry ice which cascaded over the table – I do love a bit of dry ice!
So that’s it – one of the most expensive lunches I’ve had but one of the most memorable too. Not only was the food totally divine but the service was the finest we’ve come across. Every single member of staff from the waiter topping up the tap waters to the restaurant manager and the somelier were absolutely faultless. Their charm, charisma and friendliness made us feel as at home in a restaurant as we’ve ever felt. I shall dream of those puddings for the rest of my life.