Note: The master class was offered under chef Josh Emett, who has since left the restaurant. Ramsay sold his interest, and is now affiliated in only a consulting role. The current chef is Markus Glocker.
A year ago, Gordon Ramsay at the London opened to outsized expectations. The city’s major critics quickly pronounced it a dud, with both Adam Platt and Frank Bruni awarding just two stars to a restaurant that was vying for four. I was more impressed than they were, awarding three stars, though I agreed with Platt and Bruni that the restaurant didn’t quite live up to the hype.
Ramsay fired chef de cuisine Neil Ferguson, replacing him with Josh Emett, who had cooked for Ramsay at the Savoy Grill. Neither Platt nor Bruni has been back since the change, which is understandable, given their hostility to upscale European (non-Italian) cuisines, even when it is executed well. But Ramsay was redeemed when the restaurant earned two stars in the 2008 Michelin Guide, making Gordon Ramsay at the London one of the top ten restaurants in town, in at least one informed opinion. It also earned the top rating of four stars in the annual Forbes survey.
I received an e-mail promotion for a Master Class at Gordon Ramsay, offered weekdays for parties of four to eight guests. Chef Emett demonstrates the day’s menu, and then you have a multi-course lunch at the Chef’s Table. My girlfriend and I thought it would make a great Christmas present for our parents. We made it a surprise, so they knew only that we were going to the London Hotel, with no idea what was to come.
The day went far beyond our expectations. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. After coffee and continental breakfast, Chef Emett spent ninety minutes demonstrating three complex recipes and explaining how the kitchen worked. We then sat down to a luxurious six-course lunch with wine pairings, finishing at around 2:30 p.m. All of that was only $195 per person for our party of five. This is a bargain when you bear in mind that it included what amounted to a private cooking lesson with a Michelin-starred chef and four bottles of wine.
The Master Class photos are in the previous post.
After the master class, we sat down to lunch at the Chef’s Table, which is in a nook facing the kitchen. We began with a bottle of champagne.
First we were served two canapés: a crispy cod fish with salmon roe, and a fried mushroom (above left). Then came the amuse-bouche, a light butternut squash soup (above right).
Another bottle of wine came out, as we watched the ravioli plated at the pass:
Above: Ravioli of Tiger Prawn with Fennel Cream,
Shellfish Vinaigrette and Chervil Velouté
It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the ravioli were plump and generously filled; two of them would have been excessive, especially given how rich they were. This was a four-star dish, easily the best ravioli I’ve had in a long time. It’s a popular dish, too: we saw many plates of it leaving the kitchen.
Another bottle of wine arrived. We watched the complex operation of plating of the Beef Wellington, and Chef Emett came by to check on us:
And the pièce de resistance:
Above: Short Rib of Kobe Beef; Fillet of Beef Wellington with Madeira Jus
The Beef Wellington entrée was outstanding, and puts to shame every other preparation of this dish that I’ve ever had. There were something like a dozen separate ingredients on the plate. The Kobe beef short rib practically melted at the touch. The beef was beautiful, perfectly aged and tender, the crisp puff pastry shell offering a gorgeous contrast.
By the way, the Beef Wellington is not currently on the regular menu, although Emett told us it has been offered in the past.
It was time for dessert:
The palate cleanser was a passion fruit crème with coconut foam and mint granata (above left). I must admit that I had doubts about whther the rice pudding (above right) could live up to the culinary fireworks of the rest of the meal, but there was far more to it than I expected, with a raspberry jam, mascarpone ice cream and pecans. It came with a dessert wine, followed by petits-fours that we could barely touch.
This was among the best meals we have had in New York. It is difficult to rate a meal like this, bearing in mind that most guests won’t experience the restaurant under these conditions. But recent reviews seem to confirm our impression that Gordon Ramsay is now one of the top handful of restaurants in the city.
Gordon Ramsay at the London (151 W. 54th Street between Sixth & Seventh Avenues, West Midtown)