Gordon Ramsay at the London – Part Deux

Cooking in the kitchen and inviting people into my home for a nice meal is one of the things that I enjoy the most in life.   I love the intimacy of sharing memorable feasts with special friends.  However, there are times when it’s nice to be on the receiving end- who doesn’t like to be pampered?  After a whole weekend of cooking and hosting for my birthday, I was ready to kick back for some fine dining in LA.  I couldn’t think of any other place to go for a relaxing lunch to celebrate my special day than the Gordon Ramsay restaurant at The London Hotel in West Hollywood.  Last year I celebrated another friend’s birthday there, and we had a spectacular meal.  In addition, one of my favorite sous chefs was working in the kitchen that day.  Chef Kishi did an amazing chef’s tasting lunch for me.

The restaurant greeted me with a wonderful bottle of René Geoffroy Brut Rosé champagne, premier cru.  This was one of the best champagnes that I have had in a very long time.  This champagne, from the Marne Valley in Champagne France, had a mellow yet accomplished taste that was full of fruity flavors.  It had a clean taste that slid across my tongue very smoothly.

We started off with this delicious amuse.  Scottish salmon gravlax with horseradish cream, kumquat confit and microgreens was an explosion of subdued sweetness and rich creaminess.  The tender cut of cured salmon was exquisite in both texture and flavor, and the hint of horseradish was perfect in drawing out the sweet and tart flavors of the kumquat.  Deep fried goat cheese balls in beet root sauce were warm, fluffy and light.

The seafood tartare, made with bluefin tuna, hamachi, wasabi tobiko, apple and daikon cubes, was topped with edible flowers and a generous heap of caviar.  The dish was garnished with ponzu foam, micro cilantro and lemon oil.  Through its many complex layers of flavors and textures, this dish was a carnival of delights in my mouth.  As the light ponzu foam collapsed in my mouth, I could feel the microscopic air bubbles tickle my upper palate and the tart flavors permeate up into my nasal passages. My tongue enjoyed the alternating textures of tender fish, crunchy daikon and apple cubes, and popping fish roe.  I loved the smooth gradation of salty and sour flavors, from the ponzu foam and lemon oil to the delicious caviar.

The duck confit risotto with shimeji mushrooms and maitake tempura was excellent.  I am a huge fan of Chef Kishi’s risottos, as they are always cooked to a perfect consistency.  The morsels of duck were plump and juicy, the tempura battered maitake was crunchy and light, and the light drizzle of truffle oil elevated the beautiful earthy aroma of this fantastic dish.

Monkfish wrapped in prosciutto with creamed brussel sprouts and zucchini was served with a side of cockles and mussels, and dressed with a thai curry sauce.  I expected this dish to be heavy due to the presence of prosciutto, creamed vegetables and thai curry sauce, but it was surprisingly light and easy to eat.  The perfect amount of saltiness from the prosciutto and thai curry sauce complemented the delicate flavors of the fresh fish and mollusks.  Although it was a shame to have to destroy this beautiful dish, I had no problems finishing it off to the last smidgen of sauce.

Braised pork belly proudly took center stage and flaunted its hat of pea sprouts and radish rings, while its mysterious side kick, a pig’s head croquette, sat on a bed of pea purée and pickled red onions in the background.  The slightly crisp exterior of the rolled pork belly was a nice contrast to the warm and moist meat inside, but it wasn’t until I inserted my knife into the unassuming croquette that the show took an abrupt twist.

The deep fried croquette, filled with pig’s head cheese, literally and figuratively exploded onto the scene with its glistening chunks of savory meat and collagen.  The intense richness of these ambrosial delights that had been braised for hours, made me melt in my seat in an amorous swoon.  In a matter of one bite, this once demure and reserved croquette proved itself to be the true showstopper.  The creamy pea purée and the acidity of the pickled onions were fitting stage props that made the pig’s head taste even better.  I gave a standing ovation to this shining star.

This refreshing dessert had layers of grapefruit confit, mint leaves, grapefruit granité, mint granité and grapefruit foam.  The progression of textures through the different icy cold layers was really enjoyable.  The tart and citrus flavors sent an invigorating splash of cool to my taste buds.

Our superb tasting menu concluded with this cute chocolate mousse birthday cake that made me really happy.  No matter how old we get, it’s always a special and innocent moment to blow out a birthday candle and make a wish.  With this amazing lunch at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant, I was able to finish my birthday weekend with a big successful bang.  Délicieux!

The Gordon Ramsay at the London, West Hollywood

1020 N. San Vicente Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Ph: 1-866-282-4560

Random trivia: Did you know that kumquats, also known as ‘the little gold gems of the citrus family’, are the only citrus fruits that can be eaten ‘skin and all’?  In fact, the peel is the sweetest part of the fruit and the pulp is sour.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon- Paris

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In the heart of trendy Saint Germain des Prés on the Left Bank in Paris stands the infamous L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurant.  What better way to kick start my recent trip to Europe than to pay a visit to one of the world’s most famous chef’s establishments?  Joël Robuchon has almost become a household name, as he continues to build his global empire of Michelin starred restaurants.

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L’Atelier, unlike the more formal La Table, offers casual small plate dining with a sushi bar-like square counter from where diners can sit back and enjoy personalized interactive service with the sommelier and servers, and the theatrical excitement of the large open-air kitchen.  The modern and sexy interior of the restaurant is dimly lit with cherry red accents, and decorated with vivid displays of sliced, rolled and curled vegetables and fruits in geometric containers.

Our amuse bouche was a refreshing gazpacho with mustard ice cream.  An invigorating tart cocktail of fresh vegetables with a powerful jolt of creamy mustard sensation.  This dish slapped my taste buds and salivary glands wide awake and prepared me for the sensational meal to come.

Les Anchois frais marinés aux poivrons rouges grillésa perfectly vertical tower of marinated anchovies with grilled red peppers.  The perfect saltiness and acidity of the vinegar marinated anchovies, paired with the deep sweetness of the grilled peppers was the perfect way to start the meal.

L’ouef, cocotte et sa crème légère de morilles- egg cocotte with a morel mushroom cream sauce.  This is one of Robuchon’s signature dishes, and for good reason.  This is a whole egg, slow cooked at a low temperature to where the whites of the egg just barely set and the yellow yolk is runny and smooth.  It was elegantly served in a martini glass with foamed morel mushroom cream sauce and a whole plump earthy morel mushroom on top.  A decadent, rich and flavorful masterpiece that combines perfect cooking techniques with culinary innovation.

Le Bœuf en plat de côte effiloché, salade de haricots verts relevée à l’échalote et chips d’ail– shredded beef short rib with french green bean salad with shallots, garlic chips and arugula.  A wonderful combination of textures between the crispy garlic chips, firm haricot verts, tender beef and fresh greens.  A surprisingly light dish that was a delight to eat.

L’Os a Moelle relevé d’une pointe de moutarde à notre façon– a grilled slice of toasted rustic bread, generously slathered with beef bone marrow mixed with Orléans mustard ‘our way’, perfectly balanced on a beef bone pedestal and garnished with parsley, arugula and baby beet greens. The marrow was perfectly rich and plenteous, with the slight peppery contrast of the greens and the fleur de sel seasoning taming the fattiness just enough so it wasn’t too heavy.  This dish, my favorite of the evening, was so mindblowingly delicious that we ordered another.

Le Cochon de Lait en côtelletes à la marjolaine, jeunes oignons au jus– Suckling pork cutlets with marjoram and young onion jus.  The small pieces of pork cutlet were perfectly tender and juicy, and the marjoram added a deep earthy aroma.  The dish came with Robuchon’s signature potato purée, extremely rich in butter and milk, and so creamy and smooth that it melts immediately on your tongue.

Les spaghettis à notre façon- spaghetti ‘our way’, with a simple tomato, basil and olive sauce.  Although this dish was good by any other standards, it was the least memorable plate of the evening.  I was hoping for something extraordinary, given the big name behind this establishment, but I was immediately unimpressed and bored after the first bite.  This is around the time that I ordered more bone marrow.


Les Langoustines en papillotes croustillantes au basilic– crispy langoustine fritters with basil pesto.  Deep fried to a perfect light and crispy crunch, these moist and delicate langoustines balanced out our meat-dominant menu.

L’agneau de lait en côtelettes à la fleur de thym- milk-fed spring lamb cutlets with fresh thyme, again with Robuchon’s signature potatoes.  These young lamb cutlets were surprisingly delicate and light, unlike the more familiar gamey and mature version.

Le foie de veau aux rouelles d’oignon croustillantes et son jus acidulé- veal liver with deep fried crispy onion rings in a tart jus.   This was my second favorite dish of the evening, especially since I am a big lover of organ meats.  Juicy, tender and intensely flavorful, the foie’s innate robustness was balanced out with the acidity of the vinegar jus and crispy sweet onions.  This dish paired beautifully with our bottle of 2003 Savigny-les-Beaune Les Marconnets that the sommelier carefully chose for us.


Le Bœuf la noix d’entrecôte à la plancha et ses pommes de terres grenailles confites- grilled beef ribeye with baby potatoes.  This was one of the most tender and sensational cuts of steak I have ever had, overflowing with succulent meat juices and exquisite fatty flavor.  It was grilled a la plancha to a perfect medium rare, most fitting to show off the incredibly high quality of the meat.


Although we were quite full from our delicious feast, we could not resist ordering a full dessert  spread.  We were on a roll, the night was still young, and good Lord we were at Robuchon in Paris!

Le Chocolat Tendance, créme onctueuse au chocolat Araguani, sorbet cacao au biscuit Oréo- creamy Araguani chocolate cream, bitter chocolate sorbet with Oreo cookie crumbs.  A beautifully decorated piece of art very fitting with the general theme and decor of the modern restaurant, with rich chocolate sweetness.


Le Pamplemousse glacé et confit en gelée rose, chantilly légère au litchi- grapefruit confit with rose gelée and light lychee cream.  A delightfully refreshing cold dessert with subtle tart sweetness and a spring floral aroma.


La Chartreuse en soufflé chaud avec une crème glacée à la pistache- warm chartreuse yellow soufflé with pistachio ice cream.  A wonderful interplay of cold ice cream slowly melting like lava and soaking its nutty flavors into the depths of soft warm soufflé heaven.

La fraise gariguette et son sorbet citron-basilic, meringues crispy- glazed Gariguette strawberries with yuzu basil sorbet.  A mix of tart and sweet, light and rich, this was a delightful way to end the extraordinary meal.

IMG_5357I entered the doors of L’Atelier with high expectations, and I left with a big smile and a full belly.    From the impeccable service to the seductive decor, the succulent cuts of tender meats to the delightful desserts, it was a perfect Parisian dream come true.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Paris

5 Rue de Montalembert
75007 Paris, France
01 42 22 56 56

Random trivia:  The ostrich egg, with an average weight of 3.3 pounds, is not only the largest egg but also the largest living single cell (the yolk).

Gordon Ramsay at the London – Part One

Gordon Ramsay.  Need I say more?  We love him and we hate him.  We all love his food, and we love watching him throw a temper tantrum on TV. But we would never want to bring him home to meet the parents.

Thankfully, my experience at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant at The London Hotel in West Hollywood was tranquil and laid back.  I had a superb experience thanks to my wonderful friend Haru, the sous chef there.  Ramsay sold the restaurant to the hotel a couple of weeks ago, but it didn’t affect the tasty creations that came from the kitchen.  Chef Haru did an amazing omakase style meal for us.

The restaurant interior is gorgeous and decadent.  Here is one of the private rooms:

private dining room

private dining room

I fell in love with the bar- Miami chic meets Monaco vogue?  I would love to go back to have a drink there.

The bar

The bar

We started with a trio of canapés, beautifully displayed on a plate:

Trio of starters

Trio of starters

Cod spring roll, smoked salmon and cucumber roll topped with caviar, and beef carpaccio with watercress salad, radish, shallot rings and lemon oil.  I loved the hint of lemon oil in the beef carpaccio canapé.

Next, a cherry gazpacho with celery and green apple, accompanied with roasted hand-dived sea scallops and watermelon.

Cherry gazpacho

Cherry gazpacho

This was one of my favorite dishes.  It was very refreshing, with so many flavors and textures to tickle my tongue.  I loved the slight tartness of the gazpacho with the crisp textures of celery and apple.

And now….for my absolute favorite dish of the day.  Actually, it may have been my absolute favorite dish of the year.  The foie gras chawanmushi.

Chawanmushi is a traditional Japanese dish of steamed egg custard.  ‘Chawan’ is a Japanese ceramic bowl or cup, and ‘mushi’ means to steam.  My mother used to make it all the time with chicken, shiitake mushrooms and shrimp.  This was the first time I ever had such a creative take on this dish.  I apologize that you cannot see the custard very well in this photo, but underneath the bread, white shimeji mushrooms, edamame and daikon radish sprouts are sprinkled bits of crispy deep fried duck tongue.  The savory foie gras custard was rich and silky smooth, with a complex depth of flavor reminiscent of black truffle and 40 year port wine.  This dish is too good for words. It’s culinary ecstasy.

Next we had broiled black cod topped with pig’s tails and kumamoto oysters, with a celeriac purée and beef jus.

Yes, pig’s tails.  They have just as much tasty fat and meat as the pork belly does.  The cod was cooked perfectly and was very moist.  The simple light flavor of the cod went very well with the rich topping of oyster and crunchy pig’s tails.  I loved the beautiful yet simple presentation of this dish.

Roasted duck confit with braised red cabbage and mustard sauce finished the savory portion of the meal.

I love duck confit, and this one we had was superb.  The meat was very tender and succulent.  It was plump and moist, unlike most duck leg confits that I have had, which tend to be very dry and overcooked.  I wish the skin was a little more crispy, but otherwise it was close to perfect.

And now, mesdames et messieurs, may I present to you… the dessert orgy.

We were celebrating my friend’s birthday, and it was so sweet to get this raspberry sorbet from the restaurant.  Just to clarify, the chocolate writing was meant to say Happy Anniversaire (anniversaire is birthday in French).

We all loved this dessert, the confit of grapefruit with grapefruit sorbet, passion fruit and mint foam.

Such a refreshing and light dessert that served as a wonderful palate cleanser.  The grapefruit segments were juicy and sweet, contrasting with the tartness of the grapefruit zest and passion fruit, with a light airy lingering finish of the mint foam.  A superb dessert that was an absolute delight.

For you chocolate lovers out there, the Valrhona chocolate fondant with brown butter caramel and vanilla ice cream was delicious.

A chocolate fondant is like a lava cake, with a runny and molten center.  Underneath that frosted baked top layer is a thick pool of pure chocolate heaven.  Each bite delivered a rich silky smooth chocolate warmness throughout my mouth.  Such indulgence!

The next dessert was a chilled coconut tapioca with passion fruit, with candied ginger and milk chocolate & star anise gelato.

Another spectacular dessert.  I loved the different textures involved in this dessert- crunchy, silky, smooth, milky, and chewy.  The birthday girl loved this one.

And finally, my favorite dessert of them all, the dark chocolate cylinder filled with passion fruit, mint granite and coconut foam.

I was pleasantly surprised to break open the chocolate cylinder and see a gush of vibrant colors- green, whit and yellow.  And again, so many different textures to stimulate my tongue.  I should have taken a picture of the dessert after the cylinder was broken, but we finished it too quickly.  It was a beautiful dessert to look at and to eat- edible art.

I want to point out that all of these desserts came out at the same time.  Picture 3 very happy women sitting around a table filled with all of these delicious desserts, spoon in one hand with wide sparkling eyes and ridiculously large smiles.

I had the most wonderful dining experience here, and I owe it all to the wonderful sous chef Haru.  This is what it’s all about, when you can taste the chef’s love and passion in every bite.

Gordon Ramsay at the London Hotel, West Hollywood

1020 North San Vicente Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069-3802
(310) 854-1111

Random trivia: Did you know that only domestic pigs have curly tails?  Wild pigs have straight tails.