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Steve Plotnicki

Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road

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(And as we all know, Ramsay Holdings are struggling big time at the moment!)

RHR aside, Im reading that GR is still opening restaurants here, there and everywhere at the moment.

Im probably missing something very fundemental but where is the finance for all these ventures coming from, seeing as he was on the verge of going bust.

SIR ROCCO!!!!!!!!!!

Or Marco.. :laugh:

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The new openings were in large hotels i.e. Crowne Casino in Melbourne and One & Only in Cape Town, this funded by the hotels. I also understood he changed his model from a capital investment in the restaurants to a management/consultancy deal. So GRH doesn't need to "invest" in the new openings, instead they get a revenue stream from ongoing operations. If I am correct this is the model most other international chefs use; he is simply consolidating back to the normal/accepted model, less exposure, probably lower returns, but predictable positive cash flow.

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In relation to the Booking Policy and giving people later tables in ramsay restarurants, I rang maze on wednesday evening at abut 8:30pm to go and dine along at the bar to be told that the bar was fully booked and that they had no available tables. Having read peoples experiences above I decided to go to maze anyway. When i arrived the bar was completely empty and i was given a space, by the time i was leaving there were only three more people eating at the bar. Seems strange that they would lead me to believe they were fully booked.

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I tried to book maze this week for saturday and was told that only a bar table was available with full menu. I wasnt to keen on paying top dollar to eat at "the bar" so I declined.

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I tried to book maze this week for saturday and was told that only a bar table was available with full menu. I wasnt to keen on paying top dollar to eat at "the bar" so I declined.

Given the shocking habit punters have of booking at several places for the same evening and then deciding which place to go to on the night, without having the decency to call to cancel their reservations at the others, it's always worth trying on the off-chance.

When Alastair Little was at its peak and booked solid every night, I lived nearby and could almost always get a table by turning up at the door, asking if there were any no-shows and promising to return within two minutes if they telephoned me. I guess it would work at Maze too.

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I am visiting RGR for lunch in a few weeks for the first time and would be interested in any comments in the difference between the set lunch (£45) and the a la carte (£90). With the set lunch providing a choice for each course I just wondered what the actual differences are - better quality ingredients, extra 'courses' etc?

Andrew

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I haven't been to RHR Andrew, but all the lunch menus in these places seem to stick to the same formula of less luxury or prime ingredients. Of course, this isn't to say there is a difference in execution and, more often than not, the multiple amuse tend to be the same, so it can be as equally rewarding. Also, catch a venue at the right time and they may be 'road-testing' future carte dishes or using up ingredients should they have a surplus; if you spy something that reads a little too well don't be afraid to ask the question. I've done it many times in the past and it has served me well.

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I went there for lunch yesterday and was really impressed. I know a fair few knock him and suggest that the flagship is likley to lose a star but on yesterday's evidence I really believe it is worth its 3 star ranking.

The food and service were excellent. You don't get the theatre and innovation of the Fat Duck but it should not be compared to it, Royal Hospital Road is different, it just produces top quality food, with top quality ingredients and first class service. True they do not innovate, but sometimes you really don't need a curry foam with duck on a bed of cornfalkes (ok I made that bit up!).

I'll post a few more details of what I ate when I have a little more time.

Andrew

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It’s been nearly 35 years of my life, except until last month, I’ve never actually been to any place in the United Kingdom at all. I often had desire to visit London, one of the most dynamic cities in the world; however as far as the gastronomy world is concerned, it’s quite underrated. The number of michelin 3-star restaurants were relatively minimal for a megapolitan city like London; moreover I hardly heard any convincing rising star chef/restaurant coming from this place – recently, the closest one would be Hedone, in which I had a chance to have dinner also. For me, Hedone deserved its one star and I don’t see it would get its 2nd one any time soon. Anyway, my main purpose at the moment is to share my view of the dinner I had at Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road.  

 

These days, who doesn’t know the notorious Gordon Ramsay? He’s all over the TV and he probably has more restaurants and/or cafes than any other chefs. I watched his first season of Hell’s kitchen in 2005 when I had not had any experience eating at fine dining restaurant. I am usually skeptical with the chef who often appears on TV, but I learned that Gordon was different because the Red guide book believes that his restaurant deserves its highest accolade albeit only one. So, if I had to try his food, it should be the one he’s proud of the most. My wife and I arrived 30 minutes earlier than our initial dinner reservation. Interestingly, within 5 min, there were 8 other people, (all of them happened to be Asians) making up 3 other tables, reaching the restaurant. It was quite windy and cold. Some of us tried to open the door, but it would not happen until 6:30 PM. For those of you who will dine here in the peak of winter season, please don’t arrive too early; there was neither any door bell, nor will the staff open the door for you to be there earlier. They were still busy doing the briefing.

 

Once, the restaurant opened its door, everything went smoothly even though we’re still 15 min earlier. We passed the mirrored and marbled corridor before arriving at the small waiting area. After taking off our jackets, we’re escorted to our table. The dining room was not too spacious; seated about 40 people. It was fully booked – securing a table for dinner here with 1 week notice or less is virtually impossible. The setting was discreetly luxurious and elegant with some feminine touch; grey, beige and lilac color dominated the restaurant’s theme. The distance among tables was quite closed, similar what you would experience when dining at l’Arpege. As many of you might have known, there are 3 menus offered here and we picked the Menu prestige that consists many of Gordon Ramsay’s signature dishes. Since it’s the season of Alba truffle, the staffs diligently promoting the truffle dish: pasta with parmigiano cream sauce – any dish in the menu could be substituted with this at an additional cost of GBP 45. We decided to stay with the original degustation menu.  

 

The meal started quite well. For the amuse, we had an egg served with parmesan cream, smoked potato and white truffle - It's creamy, rich and 'round'; the egg yolk was nice. Prior to this, for the canapé I quite enjoyed the cured salmon in shiso as well as basil bun filled with truffle. For the actual menu,

-the first course was pressed foie gras that was tasty but not too creamy; there were green apples, turnips and watercress to balance the duck liver’s richness – a decent dish.

-it’s followed by the signature dish: the “seafood” ravioli. I really look forward to eating this dish, but sadly it was forgettable. While the pasta was well-made, the lobster, langoustine and salmon inside were dry and lacked flavor. The veloute & bisque gave some moisture, but the sorrel especially was a little too salty and dominant. I also ate something similar to Ramsay’s ravioli with bisque, liver sauce and black truffle at Gaddi’s HK and it was slightly more superior to what I had here. At least, at Gaddi’s the langoustine and salmon were sweet and ‘juicier’.

 

-3rd course was a firm and salty halibut served in ras el hanout broth. It was average; the best part was the small and succulent king crab on top of the fish

-for the main course, I had Cotswold lamb tasting. My favorite part was the rack part cooked pink; it’s tender and delicious. The other part was the lamb’s breast, shank and shoulder – again, quite salty. Honestly, it’s good but not at the level of Lozere/Aubrac lamb I had in France top restaurants. The autumn vegetables accompanied the lamb nicely. My spouse had roast pigeon (with sautéed foie gras), which is even more tender and juicy compared to my lamb. I think both main courses were well presented and executed   

-for the pre-desserts, I liked the refreshing, sweet and fragrant “soup” (mango and passion fruit). The cucumber sorbet, lemon verbena and mint were alright.

 

-both of us had the restaurant’s classic desserts. Mine was the sour/acidic lemonade parfait with yoghurt sorbet combined with the sweet honey and light bergamot jelly. My wife chose the rich and sweet chocolate ‘cigar’ that’s balanced with blood orange and cardamom ice cream. The desserts were pleasant with attractive presentation. My favorite sweet stuff here was actually the cool white chocolate coated strawberry ice cream truffles – simply glorious.

 

Gordon Ramsay, for me, is a clear example of a 3-star restaurant with no magic and wow factor. The food is neither spectacular nor innovative and I had no problem with that. However, it’s not really delicious, only pleasant and nothing memorable unfortunately. The food is classical cooking of “old-school” French cuisine, but not at its best. The examples of “boring” food executed to perfection that makes me very excited were l’Ambroisie, Ducasse Paris/Monaco and le Squer’s Ledoyen last time. Even, the “French classic” dishes at the Fat Duck were flawlessly executed and did taste better than any dishes I ate here. After eating Ramsay’s menu prestige, I don’t actually understand the perfect 10 score awarded to Clare Smyth by the Good food guide. Probably, Jonny Lake should get 11 then. In my notes, the food here was 93/100 (2 ½ star by Michelin standard). This might be London’s best, but (IMHO) it would stand no chance of being a 3-star establishment had it been located in Paris.  

 

The dining room staffs, led by a capable Jean-Claude Breton, were active, ‘noisy’ and (sometimes overly) enthusiastic. The small dining room often made some staffs almost hit one another in a few occasions.  Obviously, the FOH team was very proud of their jobs and doing their utmost best in promoting the restaurant’s food. But, when the guests’ (food) feedback was not as positive as they expected, you could not help but notice a little sour note in their face. Only monsieur Breton accepted ‘critics’ charmingly and with ‘dignity’. As a matter of fact, Mr. Breton, who has been working with Ramsay since the Aubergine days, was among the best and finest maître de maison I’ve ever encountered. He’s very genial, ‘smooth’ and knowledgeable. We had a few pleasant conversations with him and he’s the main reason we believed that the service here was actually better than its food. Actually, Mr. Breton invited us to visit the kitchen and meet Chef Smyth, but we politely declined as my wife was exhausted and rather sleepy at the end of the meal. Another reason I didn’t mention to him was that I was not impressed with the food. Normally, the head chef would ask you how the meal went. Me being me, usually I’m brutally honest when sharing my opinion and I just did not want to “hurt” the chef’s feeling. The meal was not spectacular, and at the same time, nothing really went terribly wrong. And I don’t think the fact that we just arrived in London in the morning after having flown more than 15 hours would affect our judgment here. The best meal in my life (first dinner at l’Arpege) occurred after flying from New York; four years ago, I had unforgettable meals in the first day (after sitting in economy seat from Singapore); I could still recall vividly that Pacaud’s truffe ‘Bel humeur’ during lunch and le Squer’s “spaghetti castle” in dinner are still among the most delicious dishes I’ve ever eaten in my life.

 

If any of you is interested in the pictures of my meal at Gordon Ramsay, please visit: https://picasaweb.google.com/118237905546308956881/GordonRamsayLondonUnitedKingdom

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