The flagship restaurant of the UK’s most famous chef export celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018 and remains “10/10” for those readers lucky enough to secure one of its generously spaced tables – expect to book two months ahead, even for a midweek lunch.
The kitchen’s signature dishes demand to be ordered: ravioli bursting at the seams with sweet lobster, langoustine and salmon contrasted with an arrestingly sharp lobster vinaigrette and sorrel velouté, or a plate of suckling pig with crisp belly, roasted loin and spiced shoulder sausage that leaves you unable to decide which porky component is the most delicious.
But spare a thought for roast sweetbread with artichoke, sunflower and brown butter, or Cornish turbot with ceps, black garlic and jus gras: beguilingly simple but ultimately sophisticated cooking which proves that chef de cuisine Matt Abé, who has maintained the three Michelin stars first won by Ramsay in 2001, is more than just a ventriloquist’s dummy for his master’s voice.
Then there are all the extras you expect from this level of dining: vividly flavoured amuse-bouches to create a sense of excitement, butter served at just the right temperature to spread on salted sourdough pretzels, chocolate petit-fours even more alluring than the desserts proper, and perfectly weighted glassware to act as a conduit for the 81-page wine list.
We just wish that the service was every bit as entrancing. While readers report “exceptional” treatment, we encountered frosty, robotic staff who not only lacked intuition and tact but also seemed decidedly unhappy in their work. A shame, because if anywhere in London encapsulates special-occasion, save-up-all-year dining, this is it – but without a friendly welcome, it may remain a once-in-a-lifetime experience.