Restaurant Gordon Ramsay *** | London (UK)

Excellent food, but disappointed by the overall experience.
Not worth 3 Michelin stars to me.

Last week we went for lunch at restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, London (UK). This restaurant is the flagship of the Gordon Ramsay restaurant empire, having opened in 1998. Since 2015 the chef de cuisine has been Matt Abe, who has worked in the Gordon Ramsay group for more than six years. Prior to that he worked in Aria in Sydney and Vue de Monde in Melbourne.
We were there on a weekday and were one of the first to arrive. The dining room felt outdated and cold to be honest. The entrance and hallway show far more class.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay - dining room
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay – dining room

But I guess this is also personal taste and it got better when more people arrived and the dining room was more filled. But then you feel that the dining room is quite small with too many tables and chairs in it. It feels quite cramped, which is emphasised by the staff walking around constantly.

We chose Menu Prestige (at £155) and wine pairing to go with the menu. We were served some bread and expected to get a number of amuse bouches. Instead we only got one:

Cucumber gazpacho with sheep milk yoghurt and melon
Cucumber gazpacho with sheep milk yoghurt and melon

Nice taste, but as an only amuse bouche, it was quite limited. In a 3 Michelin star restaurant, you expect a number of amuse bouches that tickle your taste buds and get you in the mood for a fabulous meal.

The Menu Prestige has seven courses. You can choose between two main courses, lamb or pigeon (we took one of each). And after the main you can choose the pre-dessert or cheese at a supplement of £15 (we also choose one of each).

Pressed Foie Gras - with clementine, hazelnut and smoked duck
Pressed Foie Gras – with clementine, hazelnut and smoked duck

This was lovely, the foie gras having silky texture and deep liver flavour, the acidity of the clementine and slight tartness of the almonds balancing the richness of the liver.

Ravioli - lobster, langoustine, salmon and sorrel
Ravioli – lobster, langoustine, salmon and sorrel

This signature seafood ravioli with langoustine, salmon and lobster with wood sorrel and sorrel velouté, has been on the menu since the days when Gordon Ramsay actually cooked here. The seafood filling is dressed with basil, coriander and chervil and wrapped in pasta.  A lovely balance of flavours.

Cornish turbot - Maitake, black garlic, jus gras
Cornish turbot – Maitake, black garlic, jus gras

A fillet of braised Cornish turbot, served with sautéed green courgettes, pickled yellow courgettes, confit red pepper, Niçoise olives and a quenelle of Romesco (a nut and red pepper-based sauce) and lemon verbena. Finally there was a courgette puree seasoned with basil and verbena. The fish was accurately cooked, though it was lacking a bit of flavour. Also the Romesco flavour could have had somewhat more apparent.

Herdwick lamb - winter vegetables "navarin"
Herdwick lamb – winter vegetables “navarin”

The Herdwick lamb is a classic Ramsay dish. The lamb is from West Cumbria and just roasted, paired with a summer vegetable navarin. Under the navarin are braised lamb shoulder and confit belly. The presentation is a bit confusing, with half the meat hidden under the vegetables without any apparent reason. The flavours are right, and the lamb is extremely high in quality, but I have been left with a bit of disappointment.

Roast pigeon - beetroot, shallot and buckwheat
Roast pigeon – beetroot, shallot and buckwheat

Pigeon from Bresse was glazed and coated with toasted buckwheat, puffed amaranth and fennel pollen. Confit leg, heart and liver ragù, served with baby fennel, pickled girolles, apricot gastrique and fennel tops, along with a spiced sauce of the pigeon. The bird was carefully cooked and had plenty of gamey flavour, the vegetables working well to balance the richness of the meat and its sauce.

Selection of cheeses from the trolley
Selection of cheeses from the trolley

The cheese board was supplied from Fromagerie in London and was in good condition, a mix of French and British cheeses. Comte was particularly good, as was the Stilton. A lot of crackers and bread with the cheese though!
They charge a £15 supplement for the cheese, but you don’t get the pre-dessert if you order the cheese. This feels wrong as the soup (below) is more of a palate cleanser and you expect to get it even if you order the cheese.

Soup - raspberry and chamomile
Soup – raspberry and chamomile

Designed to cleanse the palate and set the entrance to the dessert phase. It has a lovely combination of acidity and sweetness.

Sorbet - apricot, lemon and thyme granite
Sorbet – apricot, lemon and thyme granite

 Nicely made and refreshing. Simple dish with basic flavours.

Lemonade parfait – honey, bergamot and sheep’s milk yoghurt

This was confit lemon and bergamot jelly topped with sheep milk and yoghurt sorbet, with a vertical circular tuile of spun honey. This was a very pretty dessert but more importantly one in excellent balance, the citrus flavour, honey and yoghurt combining to excellent effect.

Strawberry ice cream wrapped in white chocolate, Macadamia salted caramel and milk chocolate crunch, and some blackcurrant and lime pate de fruits.
Strawberry ice cream wrapped in white chocolate,
Macadamia salted caramel and milk chocolate crunch,
and some blackcurrant and lime pate de fruits. 

Some excellent petit fours served with the coffee. The ice cream wrapped in white chocolate was excellent and serving it on dry ice was a nice touch.

Overall the food was excellent, although it missed imagination and innovation. It looked like most dishes are on the menu for a long time (and they are!). You expect to be “wowed” in a 3 Michelin star restaurant and unfortunately it wasn’t there. The food was excellent, but to me 3 stars are not justified. I even have had better experiences in some 2 star restaurants.

But even more of a let down was the staff. As mentioned earlier, the staff was constantly walking around, checking all tables. This was really disturbing and the small dining room makes this even more apparent.

We ordered the wine pairing with the menu. This included five glasses of wine for a price of around £110-£130. This price range was specified in the menu. After ordering, the sommelier came up to the table, showed me the menu on the page that listed the price of the wine supplement, and she asked me if I was aware of the cost. I was very confused by this – I’ve never been asked if I was aware of the cost of something I was ordering. It seemed a bit insulting – as if we would not be able to afford it. We never saw the sommelier back at the table after that by the way.

The service continued to be rather pretentious throughout dinner and the staff seemed quite rushed. When courses were served, it was very difficult to follow what the dish was as they explained it. Most of the waiters not being English, made it even harder to understand and we had to ask twice to repeat the explanation of the dish.

When the first wine was poured, the waiter just mentioned the name of the wine which was on the bottle, nothing more. Which was odd, as you expect some background of the wine, the grapes and why it accompanies the dish.
When the second wine was poured, it happened again. We asked the waiter to tell us a bit more about the wine and he did, although he really struggled to come up with a story.
The third time it happened again and we asked for some more explanation again. The waiter give us a few improvised words with no mention of the wine complementing the dish.
The fourth time it happened again and we kind of gave up.
Just before the coffee was served, the maître d’, Ali Rasouli Nie, came to our table and asked if everything was alright. We told him about the disappointing “wine-serving experience”. He totally agreed that it have been done differently and that he would follow up on it. He apologised and a moment later come back and asked us if we would like to see the kitchen.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay - kitchen
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay – kitchen

The new refurbished kitchen looks spotless and shiny, at which at least 16 chefs work at each service. It was nice to see were the action takes place.

After the coffee, we asked for the bill. I asked to take off the 12.5% discretionary service-charge, which is automatically added, as I want to decide myself what I leave as a tip (I hate it when they do that. To me it’s really out of place, especially in Michelin star restaurants). Which was done without any question.
When I saw the bill, I was quite surprised to see all wines specified. Never seen that before with a wine pairing as well.

The bill

We had the Bellini’s as an aperitif, so they were not part of the wine pairing.
So we both had the Riesling at £17 a glass, the Grüner Knoll at £18 a glass, Saskia at £13 a glass and Arima at £21 a glass. For the main course, my partner had the Prulie Gouges at £29 a glass and I had the Lascombes at £65 a glass.
The wines that were served with the main course (especially mine) were really out of the range compared to the other glasses (price wise) and it felt like they were there to make up for the price of £110-£130 of the wine pairing. This left a funny aftertaste to be honest….

In summary, the food is excellent, well prepared and full of flavour, but lacks imagination and innovation. The staff is not up to standard in a Michelin starred restaurant and really should be trained and managed properly. So unfortunately, on the basis of this meal I’m puzzled as to why Michelin has chosen to keep this restaurant in the UK’s Premier League. Total experience was not worth 3 Michelin stars by any means.