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
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.