PRICE PAID: $428 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 9.0/10
Flagship of the enormous Gordon Ramsay empire is his Royal Hospital road restaurant. Led by Chef Patron Clare Smythe, this restaurant has held its 3-star rating for almost 14 years; appointed in 2007, Clare is the only female chef to hold this title in the Michelin-star world.
The restaurant itself is small and straightforward- a square room with capacity for around 40 guests on no-messing around plain white tablecloths.
The first thing I'd like to say about the restaurant is that service was across the board top-notch. Attentive, friendly, sincere. This is the place to go for a seriously important life milestone, because at every moment of the meal someone was paying unbelievably close attention to our experience and making sure we were having the time of our lives.
First bites are some pretty delectable ricotta cheese and mint. Small sliced tomatoes. Fiery radishes and flower petals. Summery and fun. Tastes like a garden, in a good way. This is how the world's most decadent rabbit feels. Delicious. 10/10.
This beautiful little rectangle is foie with duck. The duck is rich and amazing. The foie is very good, but doesn't outshine the duck itself. Both pair excellently with included brioche. There's a strong Pepper Madeira, flavor buried somewhere underneath, which creates a cool effect. 9/10. So far, I'm getting excited because this is the best start I've had so far.
I was told by our server that this is the restaurant's signature dish- lobster ravioli- and has been offered since they opened. Green sauce really brings out the lobster flavor. Just look at those colors, for God's sake. 9/10.
Next arrived a delicate rose water broth saddled with some so-fresh-its-falling-apart-I'm-not-kidding halibut. This is Absolutely Perfect. 10/10.
Next, a perfect, rich pairing of pigeon and cherries. The pillow-soft and tender pigeon is likely the best bird I've ever tasted. 10/10.
An excellent but not overwhelming cheese tray, with plenty of great soft cheese selections from all over France and the UK. I asked the waiter for his recommendations, and he was able to knowledgeably recite data about each selection from heart. I was impressed. 8/10.
Next, a mint palate cleanser that comes with a pestle and mortar you grind yourself. I love, love creative dishes like this that get you involved in the course, even if your involvement is totally ceremonial (and, it always is). 9/10.
Hard to believe, but another total stunner came across the transom next. The jelly reflects bubbles in the expertly-chosen plate. Lemonade sorbet with the spun honey forming a bridge over the top. I'm told that this is Claire Smythe's work, and I believe it. 10/10
elderflower Turkish delight, frozen lemon balls, and some peanut brittle with salt served as our final statement for the meal. An absolutely exquisite finale to a near-perfect meal. 10/10.
I'm comfortable saying that this is the finest restaurant experience I have had on my adventure so far.