Claridge’s Hotel, Brook Street
Tel: 020 7499 0099
Date of Last Visit: February 23, 2006
The Victims: Julie, Feathers, Canadia Boy
The Damage: 170 quid pro nase. Yes, you read that correctly. You only live once, right?
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to eat at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. Check it off the list! It is done. And it was really, really nice.
Firstly, we arrived at the hotel and were shown to the bar area which was very cute and intimate and the bartender was just the sweetest guy ever. At one point, we think he offered to let us wear his jacket. There was a slight language barrier, so not entirely sure. I enjoyed a Kir Royale and then something peach-y and champagne-y, which was lovely. Julie went for her dry white and Feathers for a mixed drink which escapes me and then a vodka gimlet which she was very pleased with. We were all entirely pleased with the bar snacks. Three different little salty snacky types. Very nice.
We were then shown to our table, and Canadia Boy joined us soon afterwards. We put him in charge of ordering for us, and he chose a balanced Bordeux that was just lovely.
Service was discreet and unobtrusive. You almost forgot they were there. There was one point where they delivered one of our courses without explanation (more about the courses in a sec) and we had to flag them down, but that was one slight mishap in an entire evening of loveliness.
The restaurant was very dark. Very, very dark. However, now that I am so used to spending time in my company’s Paris office, I am used to dark French spaces. (For whatever reason, my French colleagues refuse to turn on the lights in our Paris office. I just heard that nPower is raising rates 13% in the UK, so assuming rates move in the same direction in France, this is not a bad thing. I suppose.)
Our courses…first we were brought some crispy flatbreads with some little toppings. I’m going to forget what the toppings were, but one was berry-ish and the other might have been foie-gras-esque.
When at Claridge’s, order the chef’s menu, so that’s what we did. Six courses of Gordon. By the way, we did not see him, but we did see the French guy that’s been on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. The guy that’s in charge of all the waiters.
Oh, I am going to be so terrible and forget what we had, but let me try to remember…
Safron and cauliflower soup: Very nice. Nothing bad about it. Not as good as the lovely little starter soup at The Bowler, but nice nonetheless.
Foie gras: Very tasty. I allowed foie gras in 2006 because it was, after all, Gordon.
Scallops: Personally, I thought the portion was overly small, and it was too salty.
Duck (it was either this or sea bass): DELICIOUS. Super-tender. Lovely. This as my absolute favorite part.
Cheese plate: No, wait, this was my favorite part. The cheese cart at Claridge’s is HUGE. And very comprehensive. I asked for Comte and they had it. I love Comte. However, I feel that the Cheese Dude, while very knowledgeable, really needs to sell the cheese a bit more. I felt like I was in one of those restaurants where you say, "What do you recommend?" and they say, "Uh well, everything is good. It depends on what you like." Cheese dude should have announced some of the cheeses, unasked. All in all though, a beautiful experience
Peanut butter parfait: A nice little surprise at the end. We forgot about it. It was almost like it was full of marshmallow fluff. Very tasty. I love peanut butter.
But the absolute best part of the evening was when they asked us if we wanted to retire to the bar area for petit fours. Of course we said yes and relocated. They brought us these beautiful little pistachio ice cream balls and these other little fruity chocolate pearls. Quite lovely. And well, there was a little more Kir Royale.
The weird part: Using the ladies. It’s very beautiful, but when you came out of the toilet (I went twice), the lady in there filled the sink up with water with the drain closed and you had to immerse your hands in the water. That was weird. And actually, quite drying to the skin. They should have offered me some hand lotion or something.
The Verdict: A once in a lifetime experience. It was lovely. The food was very, very good. It wasn’t excellent (man, my first meal at The Bowler keeps getting better and better), but it was definitely high quality.