Monday, December 29, 2008

Gordon Ramsay at the London, WeHo (Part Deux)

Waitress at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant: How is everything?
My Mother: Really good, thank you.
Waitress (smiles brightly)
My Mother: Did you know that Gordon Ramsay has a show in England? (beat) On the television.
My mother's visit to our shores was a great opportunity for a very spoiling and tremendously decadent visit to Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at The London Hotel, here in West Hollywood. This is our second visit and as old-timers, we ordered a little more sensibly this time (three small courses each as opposed to eleven dishes to share between two of us). The children joined us, a distinct pleasure, as each has eclectic taste buds and clearly takes great joy in eating delicious food.

The decor reminds one of a set from Goldfinger - ridiculous golden sofas, brass and gold light fixtures, silvery aluminum shutters on the windows, vanilla stamped-leather booths & a creamy glow of light pervading the entire space. The LA skyline flickers outside. Despite all this, it isn't hideous. The walls are covered in a delicate handpainted faux Japanese paper depicting what appears to be drunken Victorian monkeys. The clientele is a mish-mash of tourists and folks from Pasadena -- it's a distinctly non-Westside crowd. The waiters continue to charm and the food still holds up whether or not Ramsay is there, mastering the ceremonies, screaming obscenities at his staff or holed up with his alleged mistress on the 9th floor. I love him, as I've said before, because he offered to carry my mother's bag at LAX when he noticed her walking stick.

However, I had an interesting cultural exchange with the wine waiter who, when I told him we'd like to try the Kesner Chardonnay, told me that we couldn't try it, but he'd be happy to open a bottle if we were buying it. Apparently this was a problem with semantics, but I find it interesting that I've lived here for twenty two years and have never had problems being understood (except, of course, when ordering "water"). The wine did arrive, finally & it was, actually, quite delicious. J is terribly good in these situations, far better than I'd expect him to be. I do so dislike being taken for a ninny, except of course when I am one, and this happens far more often than I'd admit to, and as J notices the steam rising in my ears he always intervenes as if he is my ambassador in diplomacy, like Kissinger, with some highly out of character platitudinous remark.

We started with crab (Dressed King crab, avocado and cucumber, basil purée, paddle fish caviar) and octopus (Salad of braised octopus, confit fingerlings, tomato sofrito, potato foam and olive toast) and almond soup (Chilled almond soup, sautéed spot prawns, glazed almonds and balsamic reduction). My octopus cocktail, served in a martini glass, was delicious and my mother, J & Minks seemed very happy with their crab rolls. N's soup was very good, he declared, but did taste not unlike the buttermilk sauce at Jack-In-The-Box. The crab eaters went on to a feast of foie gras (Pressed foie gras with fresh black truffle, braeburn apple and Pedro Ximénez reduction). They oohed and aahed and offered up gobs of it on homemade brioche buns no doubt in a effort to eat as much as possible of the stuff before it's outlawed. My fish course was a shrimp ravioli, a big fat cushion of a thing, in an impossibly thin wonton wrapper, floating in the most sumptuous lobster bisque. J & Minks finished with a risotto of jerusalem artichoke infused with black truffle, while N decided on the Braised pigs head with warm pickled vegetables, caper raisin purée and fried quail’s egg (crispy and hash-like) and I chose the ox tongue (“Tongue and cheek” Braised ox tongue and cheek with celery root purée, carrots and sautéed white kale). I love being the only one in my family that really loves tongue and I feasted most happily, knowing that I would not be pestered for tastes.

Don't eat all day (especially not a ham sandwich, a smoked salmon sandwich, two mince pies and a huge slice of chocolate cake at your goddaughter's birthday party) and go on a special occasion. The food really is wonderful.

My mother was delighted. She loves small portions of delicioius treats. And we loved to show here that LA isn't all about enormous plates pile high with enormous amounts of food. Of course, this isn't the case, but one meal at Paradise Cove and the jury's still out. Really, is there anything more unappetizing than an all-you-can-eat buffet? Or a monster-sized martini glass stuffed full of jumbo shrimp? Ramsey does continue to impress.

I am, in Facebook parlance, a fan.

PS. On another note, the chef from Grace and his lovely wife, are coming for supper at the house tomorrow night. This has put the fear of God in me. I never ever fear cooking. In fact, I love it, until a big old LA celebrity chef is coming to dinner...and then I turn into a little bit of what I like to call a pussy.
UPDATE: J: "You've got Picasso comin' over, you don't f-ing try to outpaint the guy."

No comments: