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Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road - 3 Michelin stars

Rating: 96.
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Extraordinary (96-100)
Outstanding (93-95)
Very good to Excellent (89-92)
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Gordon Ramsay owns restaurants in the UK, Ireland, USA, Japan, France and Italy. Just this week the latest addition to his restaurant group, Gordon Ramsay Steak, opened in Las Vegas and two new restaurants in Qatar are scheduled to open later this month. A new Los Angeles restaurant called The Fat Cow is set to open this summer.

In 2007 and 2009 Gordon Ramsay was awarded no less than 12 Michelin stars for his restaurants in the UK, France, Japan and the USA and this made him a member of a very exclusive club of chefs that have been awarded a double-digit number of Michelin stars; in fact the only 2 other members of this club that I am aware of are Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon. In 2012 Gordon Ramsay still holds 10 Michelin stars. Gordon Ramsay started his career in the kitchens of Marco Pierre White, Albert Roux, Pierre Koffmann, Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy (there are worse places to start). In 1993 he became the head-chef at Aubergine restaurant in London. With Gordon Ramsay at the helm of the kitchen, Aubergine was awarded 2 Michelin stars soon after. In 1998 Gordon opened his own restaurant at Royal Hospital Road, the former premises of Koffmann's legendary La Tante Claire.

Gordon Ramsay's flagship restaurant at Royal Hospital Road ('RHR') in London has held 3 Michelin stars since 2001. Head-chef at the restaurant is Clare Smyth. Clare Smyth has been working at RHR since 2002 and within a few years time she became the senior sous-chef. In 2005 Clare left for France to work at Le Louis XV, Alain Ducasse's opulent three-star restaurant in Monte Carlo. In 2008 Clare returned to the kitchens of RHR and was promoted to head-chef.

RHR is open for lunch and dinner from Monday till Friday. There's a set lunch menu (3 courses £45), a Menu Prestige (7 courses £125), a Season Inspiration menu (7 courses £155, dinner only) and the a la carte menu. I had lunch at Gordon Ramsay on Monday 30 April and had dishes from both the a la carte menu and the lunch menu.

The amuse bouche that was served with the aperitif was Ricotta infused with mint, pea foam, sliced radish, tomato, rocket oil and violets. An excellent start of this meal. Wonderful light ricotta with subtle mint flavours and a fantastic light and airy pea foam, well-seasoned and pure.

My first course (from the lunch menu) was Smoked potato and hen's egg ravioli, pak choi, roast chicken jus and leek velouté. Perfect thin pasta with a smoked potato mash and soft hen's egg filling. Wonderful soft and smooth smoked potato mash, very lightly smoked, perfectly judged quantity and a wonderful combination with the soft hen's egg. The roast chicken jus had a wonderful depth of flavour and the leek velouté was delicious and had a velvety consistency. Lovely bite from the pak choi underneath the ravioli. A beautiful combination of flavours and textures.

Next was (from the a la carte menu) Ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon poached in a light bisque with lemongrass and chervil velouté and tomato chutney. This signature dish has been on the menu of Gordon Ramsay RHR and its precursors for almost twenty years now. Again beautiful thin pasta with a very well-balanced  filling of lobster, langoustine and salmon. Extremely elegant but the salmon provided an excellent depth of flavour; the lobster and langoustine would have been too delicate on their own. Good intense shellfish flavours from the bisque sauce and the buttery chervil velouté was divine. The tomato chutney was lovely and sweet and delivered a slight bit of acidity. A very sophisticated and addictive dish with tons of flavour, a dish that you could eat over and over again - let's hope they keep it on the menu for another 20 years.

My main course (from the lunch menu) was Cornish pollock, chorizo couscous, baby squid, artichoke, tomato jus. A fantastic soft and moist piece of pollock, perfectly cooked as was the baby squid. Elegant and tasty couscous which a a lovely dry texture and very finely chopped pieces of chorizo in it. The spicy tomato jus was gorgeous, good strong tomato flavours. An excellent and well-balanced dish.

Whilst enjoying my main course I experienced a mild case of food envy. One of my dining companions had ordered the Roasted Rabbit loin with Bayonne ham, confit tomato, marjoram, broad beans, grelots and chargrilled Charlotte potatoes. A beautifully presented and delightful dish (he was kind enough to allow me a bite or two).

Dessert. Roast pineapple with coriander financiers, coconut sorbet and vanilla cream. Delicious, perfectly caramelised pineapple, not too sticky and wonderfully sweet and juicy. The coconut sorbet was absolutely utterly perfect. Nice rich financiers and lovely vanilla cream. Three-star pina colada.

Strawberry ice cream and white chocolate bonbons served with the coffee.

Currently, there are some 100 three-star restaurants in the world and I have no doubt whatsoever that Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road fully deserves its place among them. Is it the most spectacular food on the planet? No. Is the most innovative food around? No. Is it the most artistically presented food? No. But it happens to be flawless and to my mind that is the essence of what three-star cuisine should be: flawless.

These days three-star restaurants who choose to offer quietly perfect dishes tend to be snowed in by the 'snow' and other modernistic techniques employed by those restaurants who elect to present the diner with spectacular, highly strung and very complex dishes. They can be fabulous too. It is however easier to add than to subtract. As Fernand Point once said: 'The most difficult dishes to make generally appear to be the simplest.' The occasional controversy surrounding Gordon Ramsay personally may also present a distraction from the fact that Clare Smyth delivers immaculate food in this Chelsea establishment. Her food is classically styled and presented, but with contemporaneous and sometimes eclectic flavours and ingredients. The lovely dining room is presided over by Jean-Claude Breton, a maitre d'hôtel with inimitable style and grandeur. One of the great names in the industry, he has been with Gordon Ramsay since the Aubergine days. Make no mistake: Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road is among the very finest in the country.

More Gordon Ramsay on ElizabethOnFood:

2015 review of Gordon Ramsay (click here)

Posted 14-05-2012

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