I had the opportunity to eat at Gordon Ramsay’s first American restaurant over the weekend in New York. The new LondonNYC Hotel (formerly the Rihga Royal) in midtown is where he is “based”, where he cooks for “Gordon Ramsay at The LondonNYC” (fine dining), The London Bar (breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and a nice bar at night), and even the in-room dining (room service).
First let me say that I am spoiled, having eaten in my across several continents….
I stayed at the hotel and ate at from all of the above (fine dining, room service breakfast, and lunch in the bar), “covering” most of the menu/s :-). So here’s what I think….
All of the portions are small, but I like that; European in size, but it’s what actually should be eaten. Even after a 7 course tasting menu with a cheese course added (8th course, and a bon bon trolley), I was full but not uncomfortably so…. There was never anything that wasn’t perfect, even the room service that was delivered to the 47th floor :-). Oatmeal was still hot and the omelet was cooked to perfection and still hot as well! This was just breakfast, and an example of how good these guys really are; ’cause if they can do a room service breakfast that well (the taste was fantastic too), then just imaging what the rest of it is going to be like….
So before I went on my trip, I had tried to make reservations for fine dining, and they were totally booked (constantly sold out)…. After I checked in, the following morning, my contact at the hotel met me and we talked and she welcomed me…. In passing, I mentioned that I wanted to “fine dine” but couldn’t get in. She said it was really tough and that they had a waiting list for reservations of over 3000 people before the place even opened, and that they were booked months in advance, completely! Then she asked if I’d like to go in the back and see the restaurant and the kitchens…. I was like, YES!!!!
The room is beautiful, very sedate with muted colors and simple elegance. A nice touch are the dining chairs, they swivel like an office chair. Very comfortable so your butt doesn’t fall asleep over a long meal and there’s no fidgeting. Their heavy so you don’t move them “in and out” a lot, and that is where the swivel comes in. you literally can “turn” to look at and talk with your dinner partner, again, a really nice touch.
Then she takes us into the kitchen…! It’s gorgeous! And of course there is Gordon Ramsay’s #1 who runs the place when he isn’t. He’s been with him for 12 years. He’s taking small tastings of everything that they are preparing for tonight’s dinner…. I’m introduced and the conversation immediately changes from the $20,000 stoves that were installed and are the only one’s of their kind currently in the U.S., to the food. And of course, at this point I am not only talking about the food, but trying to impress and show my love by explaining that I have eaten with him before at several of the Gordon Ramsay restaurants in London, and that I love food so much that I have actually taken lessons, etc., just so I can cook for myself. Why was I doing this you ask…? Well, I next dropped that I would love to have the fine dining experience but they are booked. So as he is explaining what he is tasting and how it’s going to be prepared for the evening, he asks what night I would like to eat. I tell him Sunday night and he politely says he can’t promise anything, but that he will call me and let me know what he can do…. I get a message on my phone from Jean Sebastian, Gordon’s “Front of House” right hand man (Maitre ‘d, also having been with him for many years, and television shows…) saying that I have a reservation for 5:30 PM Sunday. A bit early, but I’ll take what I can get, beggars can’t be choosers ;-)!!!!
Sunday comes and I head down for the meal. OMG! I could go on and on about every different course, but you can see what it’s like here…
Prestige Tasting Menu. There are a few differences in that menu and what I ate… I had some rabbit as well at the first course, and didn’t have the beef for the entree, cannon of lamb and venison…. and of course I also got the bon bon trolley at the end (the best being the honeycomb and the vanilla cotton candy). What I can say about this meal, instead of the detail of every dish, is that this was one of the best meals I’ve ever had… It’s definitely on a short-list!
One thing I will comment on effusively is the apricot souffle. The taste, the outside finish, the inside consistency; it was all perfect. 30 seconds less or 1 degree cooler and it would have been runny… 30 seconds and a degree the other way and it would have been caky. It was the lightest softest texture with the brightest apricot taste (what apricot tastes like “in your head”); it was phenomenal!
Rarely do I go on like this, but if you have a chance, it’s worth going out of your way for this meal!
And if you can’t get in there, or don’t have the time (dinner finished at around 10 PM), you should eat in the bar, where the menu is equally as impressive. It’s prepared in the same kitchen by the same folks and you can get in :-)…
LondonNYC Bar Tasting Menu.
At the bar, I ate a number of dishes, all fantastic (about 6 I think). The detail about each isn’t necessary other than to say, eat here! Eat here often! Oh, and don’t forget the vanilla rice pudding… just smear it all over my hips ’cause that’s where it’s going (I actually wanted and almost asked for another order of it but couldn’t handle the calories on my eating extravaganza of NY)….
Oh, and did I mention the service during dinner? Unbelievable too… great wines, suggested and paired very well. They even go as far as to ask about the tasting menu, if there is anything that you don’t like, and then offer up a litany of possible substitutions (not just one or two, they’ll redo the whole menu to your liking if necessary), even including sweetbreads…
See, I just can’t stop talking about the experience. It’s kind of like the way I feel about “entertainment” these days…. whether it be a Broadway show, a movie or a concert, rarely do I feel that the experience/performance/product was better than or worth the price of admission (hell, a Broadway show is $110 these days, and few are worth it…), but eating with Gordon Ramsay is an exception to that rule, do what you can to eat his food!