photo by Yersinia
Hard to say if Gordon Ramsay is helping or hurting his name and reputation in the U.S. From the formulaic mess that was the U.S. version of Kitchen Nightmares to now apparently opening a restaurant that’s getting mixed reviews. I still want to go; maybe it’s new and there are birth pains.
LAist has a pretty devastating but amusing piece on it today. Here’s part.
Step 4: Figure out the menu
In a take on the tapas-sushi-small plates craze, the menu is not divided into courses, but price ranges with little rhyme nor reason. Although the server states that the lighter courses are near the beginning, they are not. Hog’s head and rack of lamb are not light dishes. Chilled pea soup and Caprese are not heavier dishes.
Don’t fault the server for not always knowing what is on your plate – they are not given tastings or even fed cheaper variations on your meal for their group meal. Some of them have never eaten anything in the restaurant before. In addition, the menu is often not descriptive enough, offering simply foie gras when what arrives is actually pate de foie gras.
The small plates, a variation of the bar menu at the London New York, have their problems. One problem is that small plates get cold very, very quickly. It is about surface area and heat dissipation, if I remember high school physics. Cold mashed potatoes are BAD.
Step 5: Take a chance
Duck tongues, really? Really? It is like something out of Monty Python, “I’ll have the lark’s tongues and kitten ears, please, with a side of peacock vomit.” Maybe the weird decor is supposed to hint at Rome during the middle-ages The upside to the menu is that it gives people a chance to stretch their culinary boundaries a little and try something new. The downside is the precious little geometric shapes are sometimes laughable. Make sure to dine with someone who has a sense of humor, as this is going to be kind of funny.
Things are a lot less mixed over on Yelp!, though; Ramsay is getting four stars overall. Here’s what Lillian from Glendale says…
Gordon Ramsay yells a big game, but can he put out some great food? The answer is yes. Great food experience, with some hiccups.
First course: Chilled English pea soup with organic smoked salmon, creme fraiche, and caviar. The vibrant green soup was refreshing and clean. I noticed a hint of fennel or anise in it. Set in the middle was a neat pile of the wonderfully coral salmon with small dollops of creme fraiche and caviar. A great way to get my pallate going.
Second course: Wild asparagus risotto with chive flowers. This was to die for! Creamy and rich. The rice still had a bite to it, not mushy. The wild asparagus were thin and delicate (nothing like your run-of-the-mill asparagus). The most delightful thing on the dish were the chive flowers. They had great onion flavor – delicate not overpowering. Plus they lent a great lavender color to the plate.
Third course: Monkfish in crispy chicken skin and lemon thyme consomme. Beautiful medallions of monkfish wrapped in paper-thin chicken skin. The flavor of this was wonderful, but a little disappointing. I love love love fried chicken skin, and I wanted the flavor of that to ring out with the monkfish. It didn’t quite happen.Fourth course: Braised pigs head. No, they don’t bring you Porky’s head on a platter. Rather, it’s a candybar of carnitas on steroids. Very rich. At some points, I thought it was too rich, but the accompanying horseradish mashed potatoes pleasantly cut through the richness. It was amazing.
Fifth course: Cheese plate. 2 goats’ cheeses (can’t remember the names) and 1 bleu (fourme d’ambert). This was very tasty. Accompanied by quince paste (loved it), fruit chutney (dried apricot overpowered this), toast, sugared walnuts, and honey.
Sixth course: Dessert – 1.) Pineapple souffle with Thai curry ice cream… light, airy, delicious. There was something spicy in it that hit the back of your throat. I’m assuming it’s in the curry ice cream. Not sure, because they put the ice cream in the middle of your souffle at the table. 2.) Milk chocolate sticky toffee pudding… gooey, and wonderful. As you dig your spoon into the little cake, there is an eruption of molten sticky toffee sauce that emerges from inside. It comes with a scoop of banana ice cream. Heaven.