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Steve Plotnicki

Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road

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On Conran, I'd have to say his restaurants have a style and defined quality alright, it's just not a positive one in my mind  :wink:

As it happens, Cabrales, I've never ever been into a Conran restaurant, and I doubt that I ever will  :smile: and the reason for that is their reputation tells me they're not my sort of places. I could actually be missing out on discovering a nascent Ducasse or Ramsay in Bibendum, but that's a chance I'll take. On balance, I'm not likely to enjoy eating there.

I've never been to a GR restaurant, but I had planned soon to go to RHR :smile: but not Claridges :sad: The main reason for this intention is that I had heard good things about RHR and not-so-good things about Claridges. However, now people are saying (here) that GR rarely cooks at RHR, and I have to say that makes me pause for thought.

At the end of the day, RHR's reputation was created by GR's cooking. If others now cook there, perhaps I should wait to see if they earn the same reputation in their own right. If that happens, then I have no problem with the name of the restaurant, nor with the name of the chef. But if I were to go to RHR tomorrow, the impression I have from this thread is that the meal I get might or might not be up to the standard of GR's established reputation and stars. And considering the price I would be paying for the meal, I don't think I'll take that chance.

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And considering the price I would be paying for the meal, I don't think I'll take that chance.

macrosan -- This has probably been mentioned elsewhere, but the regular prix fixe dinner (there are only prix fixe meals and a tasting menu there, at least during dinnertime) is at 65 pounds for three courses (cheese can be one of the three, but would have to replace dessert unless extra payment is made -- in fact, cheese has a supplement even when taken in lieu of dessert).  The "menu prestige" or tasting menu is somewhat higher.  And then, of course, there's wine ..... The food price can be a lot to spend, but, if you did not go, would you always wonder about RHR?  Bux mentioned curiosity in this thread; I share his feelings in that regard.

If I had not tried RHR or La Tante Claire before and hypothetically needed to go for 1 week on Campbell's soup (some varieties of which I like!) and bread and cheese (blue; a selection) to have a meal there, I would do so. And those restaurants, while restaurants I appreciate quite a bit, are not ones I adore   :wink:

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the point being made is that you go to the restaurant because you have confidence in the "name above the door" based on his reputation for cooking good meals.

macrosan, I'll grant that the point might be different to different people and I'll assume that's an editorial "you." I don't go to great restaurant with any expectation that the chef will actually be at the stove cooking my dinner.

If we're speaking of a first time visit, I go based on the positive information I find. Sources would include guides such as the Michelin, reviews, recommendations of friends and associates, and the rare online post I find worth believing. For instance, a rave by cabrales would certainly pique my curiosty although I'm not at all certain we share the same taste. She however, acknowledges that she doesn't know or care if the chef's in residence. Should I?

I do get your point, I just think it's not an important issue, for most great restaurants. Most chefs are executives these days and the success of the restaurant is as much based on their ability to delegate authority than it is on any ability to cook. In NYC, I expect to see Dan Barber at the stove in Blue Hill. I expect to see Daniel Boulud holding a pan on TV and if he flies down to  South America to do a benefit, I know the food won't suffer that night.

Another issue has been raised about seeing the chef. It's been discussed elsewhere on this board and I have to agree with what's been said there. Sometimes it's better to meet him before dinner than afterwards. There's nothing so awkward than having him arrive at your table if you've been disappointed. Worse yet, perhaps, is when your companion is the non-diplomatic type.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Maybe I've been lucky, I've eaten at Aubergine, RHR and Claridges a total of 10 times, I was in Claridges in October (on a Saturday) and RHR back in February last year, each and every time I have been I have seen Gordon Ramsay in chefs whites, Of course this doesn't mean that he is cooking but it does normally mean that he is in the kitchen. I agree that he is about to spread himself a bit thin but as long as RHR continues producing such high quality food I'm not really bothered. The meal I had at Claridges was exemplary apart from the service which I forgave due to it being so soon after opening.

Where did you hear the vicious rumour about him being absent from the kitchen for 3 years Andy? I'd also find this incredible as he got his 3rd star in that time, I'm sure if I was head chef in a kitchen that won a 3rd star without GR ever being there I would be shouting about it!


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I'll assume that's an editorial "you."

Yep, that's what it is  <!--emo&;)  I was never a whiz with the regal "one" or the megalomaniac "I" so I far too often fall back on those editorial "you"s. I know I shouldn't, and I'm duly penitent  :)

I think on balance you're right, Bux. In a sense, not knowing who is the chef today adds a certain adventure to the eating experience. Maybe it'll get like tasting the wine. Waiter serves tiny morsel of meat on small silver platter; diner impales gently on fork, raises to nose and sniffs; "Hmm, nice bouquet. Definitely not Gordon, perhaps Charles or Allan"; diner places morsel on tongue, chews delicately; "Ahh yes, that's Allan alright. Yes waiter, that'll be fine, please bring the main courses".

And Cabrales, yes --- until I do go to RHR (and I am  certain I will fairly soon) I will indeed be curious as to what I'm missing. But right now that's about # 37 on my curiosity list, after places like Troisgros, ADNY, Fat Duck .....

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Matthew

You have raised one of my great pet peeves.  People make allowances for bad service because it is so soon after opening.  I even had David Eyre at Eyre Bros ask us to bear with them while the service was crappy ( now much improved ) as they were "bedding in"

Why the heck should we?

To use the theatre analogy, if you go to see a preview of a play, you pay less as the cast is still blocking and finding its way through.  That is fine, you know what you are getting.  The same should be true in a restaurant

I believe West St had a 'preview" week where they charged less as kitchen and front of house got their act together and while I understand that place has never got their act together, they should be applauded

It would also be a great way of getting people to trial the restaurant.

If you accept bad or inefficient service ever, you are making it acceptable.

S

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The rumours about Ramsay came from a chef I was chatting to the other day (no, not him!). I'd rather not say who. I ate at GR 2 years ago and spoke to Ramsay who was in his whites in the kitchen, which is why I made the disclaimer.

Cheffy bitching - don't ya just love it!

macrosan -  do not confuse Bibendum with a run of the mill Conran. It has nothing to do with the likes of Zinc Bar or whatever. It's wonderful and I would recommend it to any stinking rich person!

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Please note - I am not stinking rich, in fact I am very poor. I am driving my family to wrack and ruin eating in posh restaurants.

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Simon,

you are of course right, I didn't entirely let it go. I reduced my tip to around £10 (the bill totalled approximately £250)   and did let them know that I wasn't happy. They apologised profusely and didn't blink at the lowly tip.

I considered leaving no tip at all but service only became unbearable after dinner had finished - no drinks were offered (we were about to top of our meal with some a nice Brandy which would have probably brought the meal closer to £300) and when we tried to pay my credit card disappeared for over 30 minutes while the credit card swipe was broken, I was only told this after asking for it twice.

Fortunately the food was sublime at these prices and this compensated for the other problems that were evident.


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Bux,why do you find online post reviews so rarely worth believing?
Because I'm a skeptic and a cynic and I don't share anyone's taste. Truthfully, I don't find many printed reviews all that reliable. If I were writing to a newspaper, it would be the print reviews that would get the sarcastic comment. Nevertheless, I'm always reminded of the old New Yorker cartoon of two dogs standing in front of a computer. The big dog says to the little one, "On the Internet, they don't know I'm a dog." I don't know who's writing. I've seen users rave about the best restaurant in the world and leave me with the impression that this was the first restaurant they've ever been in with tablecloths. It's not that the posts are lies or even generally off base, it's that you don't know who's posting and which posts are credible.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Dinner at Gordon Ramsay's (68 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4HP, 020 7352 4441) last week-end was excellent and I think GR fully deserves the 3 Michelin stars. I think his skill surpasses Raymond Blanc's, so this time Michelin and I are in full agreement!

Very generous canapes were: Chips, resembling game chips in thickness--no doubt a homage to his roots--with eggplant caviar in one little pot and in another creme fraiche with truffle oil for dipping. A terrine of foie gras and toasts. There was ample, if anything maybe a little too much, for 4 people

Menu Prestige

I. Bouillon of poule with spring vegetables (asparagus and green beans). Simple and delish

II. Mosaique of foie gras with confit and smoked goose. Within this small rectangular slab were thin slices of duck sitting vertically--very pretty, with a nice texture.

III. Ravioli of lobster and langoustine with lemon grass and ginger volute (spooned on at the table). The ravioli were tightly packed, and the lobster was sweet. There were no strong notes that sometimes lobster has.

IV. Fillet of turbot with asparagus and five spice vinaigrette. This was the most pungent dish of the evening, and added variety. Quite filling though as the sauce was heavy and a little treacley in texture.

V. Fillet of Aberdeen Angus with braised vegetables (very good tasting carrots) and an oyster and a very fine red wine sauce. By this time, I was wishing I hadn't dug in so enthusiastically to the canapes, and I don't think I could give it a good shot.

(Alternative was: Roasted cannon of new season lamb with confit shoulder, baby onions, spinach and rosemary jus.)

At this point I had a medicinal brandy to clear the way for more

VI. We all went for the cheese (alternative was poached strawberries with strawberry granite and natural yoghurt). The trolly had a very large selection--probably over 25. We went for very good Epoisses and a selection of blues.

VII. Cinnamon creme brulee with granny smith apple three ways. It doesn't sound like much on paper, but this was wonderful. The cb was the lightest I've ever tasted. Stuck into the cb was a fan of wafer thin slices of crisply baked (I guess) apple, underneath was a tiny bed of stewed little cubes of apple, and around the plate a light green apple juice.

The restaurant is small (see here http://www.gordonramsay.com/restaurant.html

yet the tables are nicely spaced out. We were there nearly 4 hours, and the chair are very comfortable.

Service was very good on the whole. On giving our name we received a warm welcome, "Ah, yes, good evening Mr T (to our friend--who had not been there before), your table is ready, come this way". No consulting reservation book. Two downs: the service is on the over-attentive side. After every course was cleared the waiters would scrape the table cloth with one of those things that look like razor clam shells. One one occasion, our friend got this treatment twice within a minute by 2 different waiters. Second, our first course arrived a couple of minutes before our wine. Menu was 80 pounds per head, wines chosen by our chum very good, but I don't have names at hand. The m'd gave us the private number for reservations which I am happy to share but only for a very hefty fee.

I'll go back asap.

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Thanks Yvonne!

I haven't been there for a while, but it was and still remains one of my all time favourite meals.

What time was your booking to secure the table for 4 hours? Mr. R is a table turner :angry:

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Yvonne, I'd be interested in the booking procedure too as I hope to take my wife there for our anniversary. Did you have to book exactly one month in advance? How does GR rate in your estimation to other similar restaurants in London if you've been to any?

What advantage does this private number give you?


Gav

"A man tired of London..should move to Essex!"

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Gavin -- I look forward to Yvonne's response to your question, but believe it is best to call one month in advance (morning -- they have some sort of time they generally begin taking calls, perhaps between 8:30 and 9:30 sometime, that we should collectively verify).

Regardless of whether a private line is utilized (and I have not received a private number, but Jean-Claude can be reached most times slightly later in the day when the restaurant is open), my sense is that any "special treatment" with respect to reservations is difficult to count on, after that day, if (a) you are looking for a "normal" (non-10:15 or later) reservation time and/or (b) need to have certainty before the day of the intended meal (when reservations not confirmed might free up). :wink:

I have dined there many times, and not gotten a private number. How have other members received a private number? :sad:

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The table was booked by our friend Alan. He called exactly one month in advance at 8.55am and there was no response. At 9.00am the line was busy. He persisted and got through after about 30 minutes and booked the table for 8pm without further difficulty. He did complain about the system which might have helped get the table.

Alan extracted the private number from the maitre d’ as we were leaving but I didn’t witness it. He said later that it took some persuasion – I think he managed it for three reasons: he can be extremely charming, he complained about the current system and he’s planning to return in a few weeks. I think the advantage of the private number is that one can usually get straight through since the line is less likely to be busy.

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Sam: Soon after we were seated at 8PM, I feared that the dinner might be rushed as I'd heard about table-turning. Indeed the table next to us had 2 seatings while we were there. However, the pace for us slowed after the first couple of courses, and, secondly, I think it would very hard to turn a table whose diners were having the seven courser. This leads me to think that if everyone dining at GR on one night opted for the tasting menu, the restaurant might not be able to cope.

Gavin: The most memorable meals I've had in London over the last few years have been at an array of places of various price ranges and included The Square, Sugar Club, Frith Street (no more). Overall, I rate the dinner at GR as the best high-end meal I've had in London in recent years. (I thought Le Gavroche was supberb, but it's too many years ago to make a meaningful comparison.) That's not to say I didn't enjoy the meal at St John the next night just as much--it was just different.

Alan extracted the private number from the maitre d’ as we were leaving but I didn’t witness it.

Que? The M'd came over to the table and gave the number to all of us. For obvious reasons the m'd chose a moment to tell us when you were away from your seat.

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I am incensed. I intend to picket outside RHR until they give Cabrales their private number, as well as home and mobile lines for all the key staff :angry:

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For anyone who has access to a BT PhoneDisc Directory thingy, there are two numbers listed for RHR. Could the second be the fabled private number?

Gavin

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For anyone who has access to a BT PhoneDisc Directory thingy, there are two numbers listed for RHR. Could the second be the fabled private number?

Gavin

O bugger. You mean we're not part of the gastocracy?

Edit: gastrocracy -> gastocracy, which can be said.

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gavin,

they say nine am and they mean it, one month in advance, it's a case of keep hitting redial until you are through. Then expect to go on hold for a not unreasonable length of time!

They also (wisely) stagger table slots so they can greet everyone by name and not have a huge 8.00/8.30 rush, so don't be surprised to be offered 8.15 or 8.45 :wink:

must admit i found lunch more relaxing and they do set lunch, full a la carte and menu prestige so you don't miss out. might be easier to get a table too if it's a thursday/friday you wanted a table for.

gary


you don't win friends with salad

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Today was one of life's truly enjoyable dining experiences at RHR :smile:

I booked a table for two only yesterday. The conversation was very polite, but firm. They wanted me there at 12.30 because they need to stagger service, and 12.30 was the slot they had available. I explained had arranged 1.15 with my guest, and the nice Australian lady had to go and check with someone :blink: She returned to the phone and said she would book me for 12.30 but make allowance for the possibility that we might be a bit late :laugh: She was very nice about it, and remained nice when she asked for my credit card number, told me I could cancel any time up to 2pm today (this was at 12.15 !!) and if I didn't turn up they would charge "oh, probably about £200" to my credit card :unsure: I think they could do with some professional advice on this script, because although I had no problem with the principle or the content, it came across rather badly.

We arrived in a taxi at 12.34 and I was immediately struck by the unprepossessing exterior. Very unobtrusive, very samll-looking, almost dowdy exterior. We went into a glas-lined corridor, then into the dining room, which is bright, airy, modern, fresh and stylish. I almost did a double take at the number of staff, who at that time definitely outnumbered the diners. All the staff smiled unpretentiously, greeted us warmly, and seemed to be French. The staff throughout our three hour plus stay were friendly and efficient (except when we wanted the bill, which they seemed not in a hurry to produce), and the only problem was understanding their often heavily accented English. But we managed :biggrin: We had a good-sized table at the side, both seats facing into the centre of the restaurant.

I started with a roasted fillet of wild salmon served with wild mushrooms. Perfectly cooked and presented, and quite a sizeable portion. The skin was crunchy, the fish moist and flaky. Great balance. My guest had lobster tail which he pronounced the best lobster he had ever eaten. With the hors d'oeuvres we drank a 1999 Pouilly Fuisse "Vieilles Vignes" Chateau Fuisse which was superb -- light and crisp and a terrific "follow-on" flavour.

Then on to roast venison, served with savoy cabbage, beetroot and herb-filled gnocchi. The venison was cooked fairly rare and just totally melt-in-the-mouth wonderful. It was not very gamy, but an excellent and distinctive flavour, and it came with a light jus which complemented it perfectly. The gnocchi were terrific, very small and browned on the outside, with a good texture and flavour. Altogether a first-class dish. My guest had Duck Challandaise, three pieces each cooked differently, which he was very enthusiastic about. The wine was a 193 St Julien Chateau Gruaud Larose which was smooth and easy to drink, maybe slightly more "woody" than I expected but very enjoyable.

For dessert I had a mixed fruit dish whose details I can't remember :laugh: except that the fruits were wrapped in a wafer-thin slice of pineapple, and there were raspberries and strawberries plus a little dish of mint sorbet. I am not a big dessert fan, but I loved this.

We finished with coffee, truffles, and a 1977 port. Total bill including service (but excluding the port which my guest paid for) was £350.

The whole experience was superb. Great setting, comfortable and pleasing, terrific service and absolutely brilliant food. The one complaint I had was the extraordinarily gauche design of the knoves, which simply would not "rest" on the plate but kept slipping into the food :wacko: They provided special metal rests for them, but there seemed to us to be something wrong with placing a used knife on the rest :wacko:

Gordon Ramsay made a couple of appearances in the restaurant, to talk to some friends. He looked immaculate in perfectly clean (short-sleeved) kitchen whites, so either he wasn't actually cooking, or else he was changin to come out into the restaurant. I wish I had caught his eye and chatted to him.

I rate RHR very very close behind Comme Chez Soi as my best meal ever. When my piggy-bank fills up again, I shall indeed return.

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Dammit, Macrosan, why must you confound my limited decision-making abilities? I was dead set on the Connaught for our upcoming trip, but now I'm thinking we should revisit RHR instead.

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Gauche knoves? How awful. I hear the toves are quite slithy too.

Three fifty knicker for lunch sounds steep, so it must have been good. I must say, I approve of the straightforward-sounding dishes.

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Gauche knoves?  How awful.  I hear the toves are quite slithy too.

Three fifty knicker for lunch sounds steep, so it must have been good.  I must say, I approve of the straightforward-sounding dishes.

What in the hell are you talking about?

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