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|Address:||68 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 4HP|
|Tel:||020 3589 1683|
|Price: £127.00||Wine: £28.00||Champagne: £56.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 12N-2.30pm 6.30-11pm|
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My first time dining at Gordon Ramsay’s signature restaurant to celebrate (?) my 40th birthday – incidentally it’s depressing, if clever, to see that I’ve now automatically become a ‘40’s male’ on Square Meal when only a couple of days ago I was happily a ‘30’s male’ – and it was an amazing, if costly, treat.
Clearly the venue comes lauded with praise from most who dine there, and its one of only 4 in the UK with the maximum 3 stars from Michelin and it’s the first time I’ve managed to attend one of these temples of gastronomy.
First impressions are that it’s compact and sleek, rather than massive and showy. Staff are simply wonderful – you get treated as though you are a regular and everything is achieved so smoothly as to be largely invisible, but you don’t wait, glasses almost appear to fill themselves, you get clear communication on what is on the menu and when one of our party who doesn’t eat shellfish was presented, unknowingly, with a lobster cornet as part of the pre starters it was replaced almost instantaneously with an avocado alternative. We also got a quick tour of the kitchen, which is cleaner than most operating theatres, on our way out.
Some people have noted that it seems to be one of those places you feel you should whisper – we didn’t get that impression; whilst there isn’t any music the atmosphere at 7pm on a Tuesday in January was fine – lots of conversation, but not noise and everyone smartly dressed.
The food is spectacular and it was the best meal I’ve ever eaten. You get a lovely selection of 3 pre starters, including the lobster cornet and a quails egg, each of which tastes perfect and which you’d neither add anything too nor take anything away from, each one having subtle but full flavours, and a delicious selection of bread (I can recommend the rosemary and the potato and honey) before starters of which you can get as much as you’d like.
I started with ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon poached in a light bisque with a lemongrass and chervil velouté – one single large ravioli with the lightest pasta I’ve ever eaten filled with a selection of flavours all of which complemented each other to perfection.
This was followed by best end of Cotswold lamb with confit breast and braised shank, navarin of winter vegetables and vitelotte potatoes – the only complaint was that you wished for more of it as it was perfect, the lamb pink and full of taste, with wonderful contrasts between the different methods of preparation.
In between courses was a pre dessert of a mango and yogurt milkshake – simply wonderful, even if getting the last little bit did entail some rather out of keeping slurping noises.
Dessert was banoffee pie souffle, banana and salted caramel crumble – the only minor quibble was this was just really good rather than wholly exceptional; it’s not better than the soufflé at the likes of Roux.
Overall it was wonderful – thankfully I wasn’t paying the bill though I’d expect something in the region of £150-170 per head given 3 courses on the a la carte menu are £95, then add wine, water, service etc – but it’s a truly magical experience and just about the only thing that made being 40 a little bit better. Hopefully I’ll get to return soon.