NYC: Gordon Ramsay at The London (Feb. 2013)
Authors: Victor and Monty
Restaurant: Gordon Ramsay at The London
Exec Chef: Markus Glocker
Date: February 20, 2013
(Gordon Ramsay actually sold his share in this restaurant due to financial problems in November 2009. You can read about it here.)
I’ve been holding off on trying Gordon Ramsey’s NYC fine-dining restaurant for a while now because I’ve heard that the London one is really similar but better. A third friend wanted to try this, though, so we just went ahead and tried it.
Matt and I got the normal tasting menu, while Monty got the vegetable tasting menu. I don’t really have pictures of the vegetable tasting, but he can provide some general comments on it.
There were a few service issues. First, the waiters at times looked like they were struggling to remember the ingredients; one waiter even said that she had to go back to check. Second, there were two times when they gave us the food and described it while a friend was in the restroom. Third, the staff rarely smiled—they looked like they disliked their job.
I saw a proposal for the second time in a week! (I saw one six days ago at Per Se.) The guy basically went around and got on one knee to ask, and it was superrrrrr cute!
Anyway, Monty’s got a bunch of thoughts about this experience and the restaurant, and I’ll let him go into detail on that. I generally agree with his thoughts here.
Monty’s Notes: My only real note about this restaurant is that the bathroom doors are tricky to lock. Make sure they’re locked. Our friend won the second most-unfortunate-event award by walking in on someone in the bathroom (the most-unfortunate-event award goes to the person he walked in on). So lock the door carefully. Onto my general thoughts….
I really love food in general. If you’re familiar with my thoughts on this blog, you know that it’s easy for me to enjoy a dish because I just love food that much. Here though, I didn’t love it. In fact, I disliked it – mainly because of the price factor.
I don’t want to get all Tad-like but when you really splurge, you want to preferably be treated like royalty (burger king gives out the paper crowns) and be fed like royalty. For me, if the service is less than par, that’s ok if the food is amazing – food comes first. Here, most unfortunately, both failed. The food is uninspiring, boring, and forgettable. The ambience of the restaurant was quite stuffy and the waitstaff had the outward appearance of someone doing a chore – I’ve seen much warmer smiles from people at Chilis. Btw, people at Chilis or Chevys or other chain restaurants generally have a fat smile plastered on their face. It’s quite welcoming :)
SO I’m going to channel a more critical persona, as much as I hate speaking ill about food. It’s just nefarious to charge people an entire paycheck for mediocre food. Do NOT charge $30/dish and have one of those dishes be a “potato rosti.” I can go to McDonalds and get a hashbrown of comparable quality but twice the size for 99 cents.
-Celery velouté with celeriac mousse.
-Tuna tartare with Australian finger lime, cucumber, celery, and cilantro. Served with a nori (seaweed) crisp.
Monte: I’m generally not a big fan of being served canapes while I have a menu in my hand. Everything just becomes too cumbersome! The celery was good but the shot glass was oddly shaped and not easily scraped with a spoon due to the weird angles jutting in and out of the glass. The tuna was ok – I liked the seaweed flavor but that’s all. I still couldn’t get over how weird it was that the spoon’s tip couldn’t reach the glasses’ bottom.
Sunchoke panna cotta, meyer lemon gelée, and Osetra caviar.
Monte: This dish was alright. The caviar and the panna cotta worked well together texturally, with creamy smoothness spiked with bursts of the salty plump caviar. But I kind of expected more. I understand an amuse is supposed to be small, but this biteful was smaller than a mini-reeses’s cup.
Roasted Foie Gras
with beluga lentils, Périgord truffles, and black olive caramel.
Monte: I thought the foie was oddly at room-temperature. Tasty though. The lentils added a nice crunch to the what otherwise would’ve been ooze-like melt-in-your-mouth foie. Except room temp foie isn’t really ooze-in-your-mouth. Probably would’ve been if it was served 15 minutes earlier.
Poached Tasmanian Ocean Trout
with langoustine, sliced cucumber, Australian finger lime, preserved chili, shiso leaf tempura, grilled cuttlefish, and uni.
Monte: This dish was probably my favorite of the night. The trout’s execution was brilliant – it had this great salty cure-like flavor to it. At the same time, it was super tender and melted in the mouth like a piece of salmon sashimi. The other elements of the dish were just ok, but the trout was really fantastic. Didn’t really redeem the night, but yay it wasn’t a complete waste.
with Charred leeks, parsley, crispy wild rice, and smoked chicken jus.
Victor: Halibut and… chicken jus? I’ll quote Monty a little here: “Why?!?”
Monte: WHY would you mask all the wonderful flavors of halibut with an overpowering chicken jus? If the trick here is to make the diner feel like they’re eating chicken, but viola it’s actually halibut, then yes it’s a successful trick. But it didn’t taste great! So why cares?! What a stupid trick.
Roasted Colorado Lamb
with smoked eggplant, turnip confit, lamb bacon, and “Pommes Maxim” (an oven-roasted potato side-dish/garnish).
Monte: Good lamb, it was tender like a filet mignon. The flavors were pretty intense and the sauce was rich. I think it would’ve tasted better if it was served warm, but not it wasn’t bad.
Roasted Long Island Duck Breast
with sunchoke pain perdu and apple balsamic jus.
Monte: Pretty good duck too! Crispy skin, juicy meat, and a decent enough sauce. So these two meat dishes have brought some sort of reluctant enjoyment to a meal that has soured beyond saving.
Grapefruit sorbet, gin cake, cucumber meringue, and tonic water gelée .
Monte: aaaand we’re back to the mediocre, bland, and inexplicably small-portioned dishes. I undersand it’s a palette cleanser, but look at that sorbet! It’s about to fall off the cake because the cake is too small! And what the heck is with tonic water gelee -ew. Props for thinking outside the box, but minus 1 for bad execution.
Local Ricotta Mousse
with candied pine nuts, kumquat, and fennel ice cream.
Monte: This is one of the least-sweet desserts I’ve ever had, which isn’t a bad thing. But there needs to be flavor-some kind of flavor. Something herbal like rosemary, thyme, or dill – or something spicy like cinnamon or curry (Curry dessert? what the-). Please don’t just serve bland mousse and bland ice cream that tastes like a mild yogurt. Subtlety is good, but at some point there’s just a giant void of flavor.
Petits-fours included (but were not limited to):
-Chocolates (flavors included mint, banana, and a few other flavors)
-Lavender with vanilla macarons
-Marshmallows infused with olive oil
At the end of the meal, they gave us dark-chocolate–and–salted-caramel bonbons as a going-away gift.
Monte: I didn’t realize that Ramsey had two michelin stars until a week afterwards. I suspect this has a role in the inflated prices at the restaurant. It’s a tragedy. And I have to say, even with the good (and only just good, not fantastic) trout/lamb/duck, the vegetarian tasting menu is criminal. The ingredients cost half the proteins, and taste even worse, but are charged the same. Again, that’s “hash brown” and lettuce for $200. Never again, sorry, but it’s just way too bad of a deal. Do yourself a favor, go eat at Jean Georges for lunch 4 times instead.