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Gordon Ramsay at the London: A How-to Guide
How to Dine at the new Gordon Ramsay at the London in West Hollywood:
Step 1: Make a reservation
This is surprisingly easy. Unlike the restaurants in Ramsay's New York London Hotel, The Gordon Ramsay is practically a ghost town. Maybe it's because Gordon Ramsay is not at the helm. Neither is the chef-who-cannot-be-named winner of this season's Hell's Kitchen. Who is at the helm anyways? For now, Andy Cook, formerly of Gordon Ramsay at the Conrad Tokyo and Josh Emett of Gordon Ramsay at the London New York, along with three sushi chefs.
Step 2: Find the restaurant
Drive up and down Sunset, always ending up on Holloway. When you see the Roxy, start watching for Clark. Because if no one bothered to tell you, like the website, or the person who took your reservation, or the person who confirmed your reservation, the sign for San Vincente reads CLARK. Now turn on Clark. Pass the restaurant on your left, remember that it used to be the Bel-Age, say a curseword and hang an illegal U-Turn. Turn into a driveway that is so understated it is practically invisible. Confuse the valets who don't know that the restaurant is open yet. (Steps 3-7 are below)
Step 3: Marvel at the wonderous decor
It is like ice cream parlour meets funeral parlour with a little Barbarella thrown in. It is impossible to gauge the theme or era of the decor. Edwardian space-age? The bloop-y lounge music makes it feel like The Milk Bar from a Clockwork Orange. For some strange reason it seems as if Michael Caine circa 1968 is about to round the corner any minute.
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. There is also a tasting menu if you prefer.
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 a palace in 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.
Step 6: Don't sweat the small stuff
Your fork is on the wrong side of the table, your server doesn't know what's on your plate, no one refills your water glass, and when they do, the napkin that they shield the glass with has disgusting stains on it, you have to ask before your plates are cleared every single time, and the coffee takes forever to arrive. Relax. They are new here. Give them time. It's not like Gordon Ramsay is known for being a perfectionist or anything.
Step 7: Whip out your gold card
Prepare to shell out about 150 bucks a person, 250 bucks if you drank a lot, which definitely improves the experience. Hopefully the A&R guy from England is putting it on his room, because that is who I imagine you must be eating with. But it might be worth it this one time. Just for the fun of it. Now you know what duck's tongues taste like. Chicharrones. Almost exactly like chicharrones.
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