All posts filed under “Gordon Ramsay

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The London Breakfast Post

Breakfast can be exciting.. (really?)

I love my breakfast and that’s the statement I am going to prove in my few upcoming breakfast posts. But, until then, I give you these….

BREAD STREET KITCHEN

Bread Street Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Gordon Ramsay’s new joint at One New Change, opposite Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa, was massive but stood majestically fake, a kind of gritty art deco with so many lamps that, if you snatched one into your shopping bag, the staff might not even realize. I heard of slow service during normal hours so I decided to pop in for breakfast instead. One standard menu. The most unique dish read Ricotta Hot Cakes, Banana, Honeycomb Butter, which nearly convinced me.

The Other Bib and I went for traditional Eggs Benedict (£7) and Full English (£11.95) respectively. I also ask for viennoiserie to share (£4.95). While my breakfast was not entirely bad – scrumptious, albeit oversalted, scrambled eggs and finely herbed sausage – the portion was meagre for £11.95. And, what’s worse, it did not come with any toast (an addition of £2.50). The Other Bib’s Eggs Benedict was less impressive. Nicely poached eggs toppled a substandard, low-end-supermarket-quality English muffin. The kind of stuff that put an Englishman like himself to shame, he said. The Hollandaise sauce lacked acidity. I could barely discern its taste from the runny yolk. The mixed bakery basket – pain aux raisins, pain au chocolat, croissant – came last as a dessert (WTF?). Despite the warmth, they did not taste fresh. The best thing of this breakfast was freshly squeezed orange juice. Exuberant! We had 4 glasses.

 

WOLFGANG PUCK’S CUT

I really like CUT. I like it so much I woke up early for their breakfast. The breakkie menu was audacious and broken into many sections, such as “Starter” and “Sides”. (Do you really need a side for your breakfast!?) American style. Dorchester price tag. Never mind..

My bakery basket (£9.50) was arguably the most expensive I came across in London. It was, however, very good and generously portioned. All the bits came with a real shine as opposed to the dry looking ones at Ramsay (above). Dainty pain aux raisins and flake-y croissant. The star of the bunch was the sticky Pecan bun. Heavenly gooey, toffee caramelisation and nutty bites.

The savoury stuff was good, too. My Salt Beef Hash Cake, Poached Eggs and Bearnaise Sauce (£14) was staggeringly large. Macho flavours came through from the meaty hash patty and crispy leeks, while the combo of velvety Bearnaise and Bordelaise formed contrasting layers of acidity and rendered the dish so delectable. And, the poached eggs? They squirted!! The Other Bib’s Buttermilk Pancakes with Sausages and Berries (£12.50) arrived a pile of pancake mattresses. Thick, fluffy and smelt super gorgeous. The whipped maple butter was a wicked treat. That said, it was too big for a normal human being to eat up.

To answer your question, we no longer required lunch or dinner on that day…

 

RIDING HOUSE CAFE

If you fancy a sighting of quirky rodents at your breakfast table, you will not be disappointed at Riding House Cafe. (I happen to love IT!) Standard breakfast menu with a nice selection of smoothies. The cooked breakfast, however, was just adequate. The Other Bib’s Full English (£9.4) was decent in quantity but trailed slightly behind in quality. The sausage did not taste of much. The black pudding was greasy and under-seasoned. The beans were criminally cold. My Eggs Hussard (£9) was a dish of confused flavours. There were ox heart tomato, spinach, ham, poached eggs, Bordelaise, and Hollandaise. While the same B + H combo worked at CUT, the Riding House version was underwhelming due to the improportionate pool of Bordelaise. The fresh veggies also cancelled out the unctuousness that could have worked from the eggs and ham topping.

Comfortable and charming space to kick back and relax in the morning, though.

Enough said,

My head rating for Bread Street Kitchen, CUT and Riding House Cafe says, “6, 7 and 6″.

My heart rating says, “5, 7 and 6″.

BREAD STREET KITCHEN

10 Bread Street
City of London
EC4M 9AB

Tel. 020 7592 1616

www.breadstreetkitchen.com

WOLFGANG PUCK’S CUT LONDON

45 Park Lane
The Dorchester Collection
Mayfair
London
W1K 1PN

Tel. 020 7493 4554

www.wolfgangpuck.com

THE RIDING HOUSE CAFE

43-51 Great Titchfield Street
London
W1W 7PQ

Tel. 020 7927 0840

www.ridinghousecafe.co.uk



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Savoy Grill

Where should I start? The Savoy Grill is only fully booked until early January? Where should I start? Ramsay was there but disappeared by the time we finished our meal? Where should I start? The red art deco decor did not look as aggressive as shown on the website? Where shall I start? The renovated Savoy Hotel made the Dorchester look like some obscure shopping arcade in Mayfair? But, I suppose I should start by saying that my other bib and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal at the newly reopened Savoy Grill?

Yes, we did.

What’s it like there NOW?

It’s British with European influences, I’d say. The menu was not complicated: no firework, but more of pie-work and the grill. Price-wise, you’d probably be looking to pay the same for a three-course with a bottle of wine at Hawksmoor or The Wolseley. When the bill arrived yesterday, it was rather astonishing. I ordered a £65 bottle of Bordeaux and with that included our meal at the Savoy Grill was still almost £40 cheaper than Hakkasan Mayfair.

The Meal!

Sorry, people, there won’t be many photos in this post due to inadequate lighting in the dining room. I’ll just attempt to round-up my meal. My other bib went for Baked Hereford Snails with Parsnip Root Puree, Shallot Suace, Brioche Crumb. The snails, perfectly cooked and bouncing in the mouth, was served layered on the puree and the sauce and topped by the crispy crumbs. I had the Baked Egg Cocotte, Smoked Bacons, Wild Mushrooms, Red Wine Sauce, served in a pretty jar with soldiers. It was scrumptious. The egg yolk was cooked and bordered on being jelly-like rather than runny. The sauce with mushrooms and bacons was rich and deep.

For the main, my other bib ordered the Red Wine Braised Beef Shoulder and Roasted Fillet with Creamed Wild Mushrooms and kindly gave me one forkful. I tried the shoulder and it was just so tender it flaked on the very first bite. The combination was traditional but tasted like food you could come back for everyday. For myself, I had Mutton, Carrot and Turnip Pie with Worcestershire Sauce. This was a refined version of a Shepherd’s Pie. Also the cooked to dissolve mutton that soaked all the goodness of the finely grated vegetable roots was to die for–who says mutton is always tough? I tucked into this little circle, toppled with slightly grainy mashed and oven-baked for the crusty top. The Worcestershire based sauce was intense and heart warming.

The photo was really bad, wasn’t it? I could have booked for lunch instead! And, desserts? My other bib’s Steamed Cinnamon Pudding was gorgeous, bursting with spice and balanced off by the light custard. My Rum Baba with Citrus Fruits and Jersey Cream was ok. There was not enough rum, no trace of orange jam on the skin of the Baba, even if there were slices of fruit on the side and candied orange rinds on top, I still found the sweetness to be inadequate. There were good things about it, too. The baba was spongey enough–but a lot drier than Ducasse’s–and the Jersey Cream was lush. To be honest, comparing this to my prior Baba experience at Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road, I much prefered the one at the Savoy Grill.

All in all, a very pleasant meal, and we could see the Savoy Grill to be doing so commercially well. Before I finished this post, we were impressed Ramsay spent a lot of time in the kitchen at Savoy, rather than just walked around greeting guests. He won my heart back <3

Enough said,

My head rating says, “8 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “6 out of 10″.

SAVOY GRILL

The Savoy
London
WC2R 0EU

Tel. 020 7592 1600

www.gordonramsay.com/thesavoygrill

Savoy Grill on Urbanspoon

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Will Royal Hospital Road Lose Its Stars?

The title said it all for me, that I wasn’t particularly enjoying my most recent meal at Ramsay’s flagship on Royal Hospital Road. Yes, the one he was on about almost every week–save the last when he hosted the finale at the new Petrus–on his recently aired Ramsay’s Best Restaurant.

To be fair, I’m never an enemy of Ramsay’s food. The first visit to Royal Hospital Road five years or so ago left me rather thrilled by the cuisine, not the bill. Ever since, I had been, more or less, a regular, but since Ducasse was opened, I was swayed by the old Frenchie and the booking system that never left me with a headache. Yet, for whatever reasons, despite my good friend’s warning and my other bib’s acrimonious refusal to accompany me, I felt I should re-visit Ramsay’s.

I went …

First impression. Royal Hospital Road had become a zoo of tourists. You’d never find these people, say, at The Waterside Inn, Marcus Wareing, The Ledbury, etc. I would like to make it clear, being a snob as I was and expected myself to be paying more than £100 for lunch, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near tourist-diners. There were clutters of shoulder bags under the tables, jackets–I wouldn’t go so far as to question the shops they were from–hung at the back of the chairs. I believed the dress code was smart but a few diners wore something I wouldn’t even identify as smart-casual. And, most evidently, almost all tables came with a camera–and I was sure they’re not bloggers. This sight was indeed depressing. Actually, there was the noise preceding my tourist-sightings. Loud, boisterous, as one would expect oneself in a GBK or Pizza Express. The exclusivity, the formal but leisurely ambiance of the place was history.

The staff–who seemed to recognise me and asked where I had been, though I didn’t say Dorchester or The Square or Noma out loud–was still very accommodating and efficient, though the impressive gesture of hospitality was totally drowned by the noisy, sans-exclusivity dining room. You know, you can have a packed restaurant but without these highstreet hurly burly.

Let’s crack on with the food. First up was this nibble of Truffled Arancini with Truffled Mayonnaise. Not bad. The mayo was quite water and did not stick to the rice balls when dipped.

Then came the amuse bouche of Duck on Ricotta Bed and Chesnut Veloute. I enjoyed it, despite the veloute’s being rather foamy. The deep-fried duck ball was bold in flavours, while the light veloute mixed with the cheese added the second dimension to the meat flavour.

Flipping through the menu, I was not so sure what to order. When you saw terms like “hollandaise sauce” or “salad nicoise” on the menu, I felt a bit dumbed down. Not necessarily saying that these couldn’t be fantastic recreations of the traditional but was there a need to spell that out loud? I’d rather be challenged and “get” the concept while eating it. I was indecisive and taking my week’s hard work into account I made up my mind asking for the “special” of the day: Hand-pulled Linguine, Parmesan Foam, White Truffle. This came with a £45 supplement. Was I insane? Maybe I was …

The white truffles–not ones of the plumpest I had–came in a rather posh box gilded with Ramsay’s name–a great advertising tool as people ordering these were likely to ask for a photograph opportunity! These truffles, I tried not to think about this, had been passed over and sniffed, thank goodness the swine flu was no longer en vogue. But, it was too late to change my mind and thinking, being optimistic as I was, I still had my health insurance.

Shaving time. Go on …

What!!!???? You couldn’t be serious? Did that look like £45 worth of white truffle?? Compared to my favourite You Know Which Truffle Restaurant, this was a JOKE!! Setting my truffl-ing anguish aside, the linguine was rather pleasant with a lot of bites and the parmesan foam light and not overpowering. But, taking the truffle into account, this was so NOT worth it. The aroma was sort of there but wasn’t quite. It didn’t smell the ultra-best, though in this regard, I couldn’t shun the restaurant. You never know if this is the magic truffle until you grate it, somebody told me.

Moving on to my main course of Roasted Gloucestershire Old Spot ‘Cote de Pork’, Apple, Stuffed Ceps, Pommery Mustard Pomme Puree, Endives, Braised Shallot.

Que?

Well, in translation, this was a pork chop.

Flavour-wise, it was good. The pork was tender and perfectly cooked, well glaced with the jus. The chopped and stuffed ceps had some delightful crispiness. The apple added a touch of freshness, lifting the dish from being too heavy. The pomme puree, however, looked like mashed banana, DIY baby food a careless mum would make and in the process she had accidentally dropped a bagful of mustard seed in the mixture. Texture? I found it too liquidy. And as for taste, it was too subtle; despite the yellow colour, there was no kick from the mustard.

Looking at my watch, it was interesting. It had only been just an hour since my arrival. Usually, when you were in a great restaurant, you wouldn’t notice time flew by. This time, the dishes flew–and my brand new £50 notes would follow suite–but not time.

What’s more depressing than looking at the time was, indeed, looking at the dessert menu as they appeared unchanged, fixed in time, almost exactly the same as when I first went 5 years ago (save the Banoffe Souffle), like those walls from Assyria in the British Museum–I couldn’t compare this to the V&A as they occasionally switch artefacts around. I was sad, sad enough to ask for the desserts that were on the set lunch menu instead. Before that, I had this pre-dessert of Mango drink. Velvety texture, subtle mango flavour that went nicely with the foam. What’s not RIGHT about it was that this was the same as I had a year or so ago! I recalled they did this strawberry drink with some popping rocks years ago, which was nicer.

My dessert, from the set lunch menu, arrived. It was a rum baba with orange garnish. The baba was airy and not dry, but it had no bounce; it did soak up the alcohol but quickly turned soggy. The marmalade layer of the baba was adequate, but I was not keen on the runny cream–which made the sponge even more soggy–and the orange wedges. The rum from Barbedos–no, you didn’t get to choose your own rum–had no distinct flavour or smell, very neutral. One last bitching, I felt a rum baba should be served in a bowl or similar types of vessel because the rum would be contained and keeping the sponge soaked. In front of me, the rum was just running all over the plate, as if some sort of jus. Not right.

Before I left, I had some more freebies: first, chocolate, and second, the strawberry ice cream coated in white chocolate. They were lovely, and the sight of the dry ice oozing out from the ice cream bowl caused some “oouuu ahhh” in the dining room. Just as I was about to tuck in my ice cream–my favourite that had, too, been on the freebie menu for years–somebody started singing a “Happy Birthday to You”. Not very loudly, but audible from my table. This was just so inappropriate….

Meal done and the total amount of time spent at Royal Hospital Road was 1h 30min, the briefest trip ever to a Michelin-starred restaurant. Looking back, the food was not bad and I was certain Clare Smyth Royal Hospital Road was amazing enough to help the place retain its third star. They were still serving good food refined to Michelin standard, but the place was currently overrated by its third Michelin star. I’d say, this was a two-starred level food and not one ahead of the UK’s two starred pack either. Back to my question: “Will RHR lose its stars?”. It might, but considering how often Ramsay quoted Michelin in his new show, I felt he had become somewhat of a spokesperson for them. Would this mean he’d be more likely to keep his stars? Never mind that. For me, the menu today showed it all. There was no vision whatsoever for the future and I felt Gordon Ramsay should get out of Hell’s Kitchen and get–more often–into his own.

Enough said,

My head rating says, “7 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “6 out of 10″.

GORDON RAMSAY AT ROYAL HOSPITAL ROAD

68 Royal Hospital Road
London
SW3 4HP

Tel. 0207 352 4441

www.gordonramsay.com/royalhospitalroad

NOTE: If you fancy good juice, they serve ones imported from France by Alain Milliat and they are exceptional! I had Milliat jam at the Connaught and was so happy to have tried his juice at RHR. Special thanks to the thoughtful sommelier.

Gordon Ramsay on Urbanspoon

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Me(a)t Jamie’s New Restaurant!

I finally got to go to London’s newest multi-millions-pound shopping arcade One New Change, just next to St Paul’s Cathedral, yesterday. I wasn’t wowed by the selection of shops; it’s like cloning and relocating Covent Garden to the City, isn’t it? I was there only to have a first peek–do I sound like a stalker?–at this cross continental bromance. Sorry, I mean, Jamie Oliver and Adam Perry Lang’s daring barbecue venture Barbecoa scheduled for the flaming opening on November 5th, 2010!

Barbecoa has been attracting quite a bit of attention from the press. I recalled the Metro describing the restaurant as carnivorous and especially for “your inner caveman” referring back to Jamie’s approach to taking the cooking back to simplicity, or in Jamie Oliver’s words, everything will be cooked on various types of grill. I wonder what Gordon Ramsay thinks as another of his restaurants will be opened–where?–at One New Change–where exactly?–just opposite Jamie and Adam’s Barbecoa!! Is this a perfect example of neighbour rivalry?

What’s at Barbecoa?

Meat of many kinds–lamb, pork, beef, chicken–taken straight from Jamie’s British Butcher–which looks more like a set of the Saw films–at the ground level of One New Change and slow-cooked in the flame as the term “barbacoa” suggests.

I must say if Jamie can grill them as good as this Grilled T-Bone for Two that was once being served at Jamie’s Italian, I will be immensely happy!!


What’s more?

A massive rotisserie, or a few actually. You can see it on the right in the picture.

What else?

The uber-stunning view of St Paul’s next to your table to enhance the dining experience. Ramsay’s restaurant won’t have this! The decor at Barbecoa is rather sleek and classy, with metallic silver and gold contrasting pearl black.

And?

There will be two entrances–as I have conjectured–one from the ground level of what looks like a Deli, the other on the first floor, opposite Ramsay’s. Not sure if the queuing works? You might as well book now!!

BARBECOA

20 New Change Passage
London
EC4M 9AG

Tel. 020 3005 8555

www.barbecoa.com

PS Special thanks to my foodie friend for letting me use her Steak photo :-)