London has about 15.000 restaurants listed on Tripadvisor. From these only 2 have managed to get the coveted three star rating from the Michelin Guide, the flagship restaurant of Gordon Ramsay and Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester. Two more 3 star restaurants exist in the whole UK both at Bray. Waterside Inn restaurant of Alain Roux Jr and The Fat Duck by the genius chef Heston Blumenthal.
You could imagine making a reservation at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant, in a city with 8 million people plus who knows how many tourists, that can sits only 45 to 50 diners in one sitting per lunch or diner, can be quite hard. Consider also Mr. Ramsay's fame after his numerous TV shows.
At the time of my lunch the restaurant was full.
Even thought his name is on the front of the restaurant, in Royal Hospital Road, don't expect to see him inside any more. The chef is Claire Smyth, she makes the menu, she cooks every single day in the kitchen. She gained experience abroad at Alain Ducasse's Le Louis XV, (watch my review here ), and then returned to London and promoted to Head Chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
As Maitre d' Jean-Claude Breton informed me, the restaurant sits 45 diners at lunch and maximum 55 at diner. For the amount of these diners there is a 30 members team cooking, serving and so on. The dining options, as for the menus are A la carte, a seasonal inspiration menu and the more affordable lunch menu. Being the white truffle season, there was also a spaghetti dish with Alba truffle, with a supplement. A waiter presented us a big truffle inside the wooden engraved box and informed us that this year it costs about 2000 pounds per kilo, with the last year's price being about twice that, at 4.000 pounds.
We began with bread and butter. Bread was of four different kinds, white, brown, pretzel and brioche with pancetta. All of them were excellent. Butter on the other hand was not like the one you find in France. The amuse bouche, pasta filled with minced meat paired with a quail egg, mushroom and fried leek, served with chestnut veloute. In one word, sublime.
The starter, we both chose, was smoked potato and duck egg ravioli, with mushroom ragout of champignons de Paris, morels and trompettes de mort, in Jerusalem artichoke veloute. The pasta was cooked right on time, pairing very well with the potato and the running egg yolk. Overall a great dish.
The wine we chose was a half bottle red from Provence, that consists of Mourvedre, Grenache and some other varieties. It had spicy aromas and paired very well with the following mutton.
For the main course, I had fillet of Herdwich mutton, cooked over charcoal, with puff rice, smoked aubergine puree , mint and vadouvan, which is a blend of spices. The mutton was cooked to perfection medium-rare, had great flavor without a trace of the unpleasant sheep taste. The puree had velvety texture but I found the puff rice to be a misfire to the dish.
The other main course, roasted rabbit loin with Bayonne ham, salted baked turnips, toasted hazelnuts and pickled mustard seed.
For dessert, we both had the banana parfait with peanut butter mousse and chocolate sandwich with caramelized bananas. This was a surprise. I wasn't really excited about a banana dessert, or by the way it looked but it was very tasty. The mignardises were just ok.
The service was in a league of its own, very attentive, friendly and professional. Maitre d' Jean-Claude has to be the best one around now.