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Oct 31, 2007 03:47 PM

Jfood visits Ramsay's Claridges - GR Please Come Home

Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s is a beautiful restaurant. The décor is inviting, with gorgeous chandeliers glowing a soothing light all around. The tables are far enough apart that others would have to be very loud in intrude on your space. It is an extremely relaxing and beautiful environment.

Upon arrival Jfood and a colleague were quickly whisked to their table and asked for drink orders. Very smartly done. Jfood ordered his normal sparkling water and his colleague a bottle of wine. Unfortunately the bottle he ordered was out of stock (understand the logic, but still not a 5-star way to start) and the Sommelier was quick to recommend an alternative. Jfood was told the alternate bottle was very good.

The menu is a 3-course fixed at 65-Sterling ($135 at today’s exchange rate) per person. The waiter arrived and explained the specials. When he explained the Chateaubriand he mentioned that it could only be prepared for two people. Now this may be a Jfood quirk, but at these prices Jfood does not want to find a partner at the table to share the special. Gordon, please make sure that each dish can be prepared individually. Likewise the Pear Tarte Tartin is a big Jfood favorite and he was excited when he saw it on the dessert menu, but again it concluded “(for two people)”. This may be a minor annoyance but it is still an annoyance.

Pre-Appetizer - As soon as the meal was ordered, the service brought a small cup of Trumpet Mushroom Bisque. This was fantastic. Nicely seasoned and an elegant way to start the meal. Nice touch Gordon. If this was foreshadowing for the rest of the meal, this was going to be a fantastic experience.

Appetizer - Jfood ordered the “Persillade of Rabbit with Autumn Vegetables “a la Grecque”, grain mustard dressing”. Without commenting on how Persillade fit into this dish, it was different than any other he has eaten. The rabbit was cooked off the bone in circular form (like an individual terrine) and presented amongst a mélange of autumn vegetables (carrots, shallots, sprouts). The rabbit itself tasted as though it was poached versus baked and it lost some of its earthiness in the process. It was also lacking seasoning. Jfood was very impressed with the flavors of the vegetables as the chef showed how carrots could be vinegary, shallots could be sweet and clover could be bitter. Overall the dish was good but not great (Jfood liked the vegetables better than the rabbit). The chef changed the traditional complexion of the dish and it lost some of its richness. But it was very inventive.

Entrée – Jfood decided to continue the earthy-flavored dinner with the “Roast Rump of Cumbrian Lamb, pomme mousseline, confit garlic, thyme jus”. The waiter stated, “the chef cooks that medium-rare” and Jfood thought that was fine. Once again the presentation was beautiful. A small boneless rump, sliced, set amid some pomme mousseline and a few vegetables layered on top. Jfood tasted the pomme first and was disappointed. The consistency can only be described as thick and gummy and not seasoned at all, very disappointing. The next stop was the lamb. The ends were cooked to medium and the center slice was rare, at best. Not exactly medium-rare, but Jfood did not mind all that much, different flavors/different textures. The meat was nice but not great. Unfortunately, there was fairly large piece of sinew running through the meat which made it both difficult to cut and more difficult to chew. But the true downside was the taste, there was none. The outside had little seasoning and the meat itself had no depth. So overall this dish was a huge disappointment. Jfood tried a combo of the pomme, meat and garlic and the garlic overpowered everything, and roasted garlic would have tamed the flavors better. And the day after Jfood looked up exactly what Cumbrian Lamb was and what did he find. It is the subject of a national health scare in the UK as reported last week. So Jfood would recommend being a little more news-centric in serving meat under investigation at this time. Here’s the link if anyone cares to read.

Intermezzo – Jfood and his colleague were presented with a large “shot glass” of wild berry puree topped with crème. Totally disappointing and neither of them finished the whole dish. The berries lacked any depth of flavor and the crème did nothing to support the dish.

Dessert – For dessert Jfood ordered the “Cinnamon Crème Brulee, hazelnut sablé, spiced plum and red wine sorbet” but substituted a different crème for the sable for allergy reasons. To be honest Jfood had not idea what a sablé was and when he asked he was told it was a type of cream (still not sure if that was correct). The crème brulee was perfectly prepared, creamy, rich and full of flavor. Oh if they could have made this entrée sized. But this time the flavors that accompanied the dish were suspect. The crème was bitter and the spiced plum and red wine sorbet did nothing for the dish. They could have served the brulee alone and Jfood would have enjoyed it more.

Truffles – With the check, the service brought four truffles for the two of them, two covered in ganache and the other two covered in nuts. After Jfood reminded him yet again of his food allergy, the tray was removed and four ganache-covered were returned. Upon their return Jfood took a bite and was severely disappointed. They must have been taken directly from the fridge to the table. Truffles should be served at room temperature not at 40 degrees. So Jfood waited until they came closer to the correct temperature and tried again. They were very good but again not great.

Service – Let Jfood give you the good news first. The FOH and support staff were fantastic. They were there promptly, yet not too early, they allowed for Jfood to linger through the appetizer, and they removed the plates simultaneously as Jfood likes. Now onto the bad news, the server/waiter was horrible. He was rude, unhelpful, bumped into Jfood’s chair constantly (the tables are fairly far apart) and fired the entrée way too early. There was only a 7-minute gap between Jfood finishing the appetizer and receiving the entrée. This should have been longer, in Jfood's opinion. His lack of professionalism took away from the experience. Jfood mentioned to him several times about his nut allergy and the server did not seem to care. When the dessert menus arrived (6 of 8 desserts were nut based) Jfood mentioned this and instead of helping he merely asked, “What do you want?” and not in that helpful tone. Then he brought truffles covered in nuts. Jfood finally needed to say something to the MOD who was extremely apologetic. Jfood should have mentioned something earlier, but at a restaurant of this quality there should not have been a need.

So to those of you that mentioned that the Ramsay restaurants are going downhill, Jfood would hope that this experience was not his best. All he could think of as he ate some of the dishes and experienced some of the service was His Ramsay-ship standing over them screaming “Are you out of your f&%#ing mind?” Please Gordon return to the homeship and fix your empire.

Jfood's Ratings:

Trumpet Mushroom Bisque – 10
Rabbit Appetizer – 7
Lamb Entrée – 4 (before reading the article) 0 (after reading the article
)Wild Berry Intermezzo – 2
Crème Brulee – 9
Service (Server) – 2
Service (Support) – 10
Truffles - 4

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  1. I always thought a sablé was a type of biscuit (cookie) - so named because it's like grainy like sand. I would guess the hazlenut sablé was a biscuit, not a cream. Thanks for the full report.

    4 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      yup, further investigation confirmed that a sable is a biscuit. Jfood asked a server at another resto a few nights later. This just adds to the server issue. Why would he suggest substituting creme for a biscuit. Maybe jfood was too lenient with a 2 for the server.

        1. re: zuriga1


          Maybe but at these prices jfood should still be smiling. See the other reviews he posted for this trip. Much less expensive and waaaay better.

          Back in London in a few weeks for some more great London food. :-))

          1. re: jfood

            The only way to learn is to try. What's one man's poison etc. Of course you may be Ms. jfood for all we know. :-) If you are on an expense account, it's a lovely perk. Spread the word back home.. wherever that is. The English do really know how to eat well these days.

    2. What a deeply disappointing experience this must have been.

      Regarding the Chateaubriand, isn't that always only offered as a serving for two?

      3 Replies
      1. re: loobcom

        That's my understanding as well, about Chateaubriand - thanks jfood for such a thorough review!

        1. re: MMRuth

          Absolute agree that Chateaubriand is normally (OK exclusively) for 2. But as the only add-on feltthat at a Mich-1 star it might be different. But, tarte tartin for 2 only? That was a first.

          1. re: jfood

            jfood, you were right in the first place about chateuabriand. I recently ate at a brasserie in Pau, France, where the I had a delicious chateaubriand, the house specialty. It is served only in individual portions.

      2. jfood.
        Uh oh.. Sounds as though 'Gordo' better spend less time in front of the camera and more time TCB in his restaurants. You should email him RE: Your experience.
        As always, and informative and in depth posting ....Thanks!

        1. jfood should consider not suggesting the safety of the lamb from Cumbria on offer at Ramsey's (or Brit of a Trip's) is that which might be on offer from the country's two low end supermarket chains. Please compare apples with apples. Not apples with bicycles.

          At a slight tangent, does anyone know if "Cumbrian Fell Bred" lamb is on sale at London's Borough Market (perhaps marketed as "Farmer Sharp - or similar)? And is it any good?