Looking back at my first trip to London, I can’t say it wasn’t near perfect. What might have topped off this near-perfect British adventure? A trip to Gordon Ramsay’s acclaimed establishment, Ramsay in London. I never made it there – mainly because of budget reasons. See, it was either spend a few hundred bucks on a dinner in London, or in Paris. I picked Paris. Don’t ask what fine dining establishment I spent all that money at in Paris. I’ve moved on since.
Let’s fast forward to 2012. The one-star Michelin rated restaurant was calling my name for quite some time. I thought since I was going to start this food blog, what better way to begin the quest right in Hollywood – West Hollywood for that matter (those who live in LA know the difference). The restaurant is nestled inside The London Hotel where San Vicente and Sunset meet. Because the hotel is one block south of Sunset, its easy to never notice it. Inside, the very white interior is balanced with a black outline providing a minimal yet posh feel. For those who’ve never been to London, this is what MODERN London feels like. Walking through the lobby, I dared not ask directions. I just followed my nose to the smell of the bakery (I knew already to set my expectations high for the dessert) and right next door, viola, the black hallway entrance.
I’m greeted by a young good looking hostess with an obvious British accent. As I’m seated I notice the decor says more about its modern Chinese influence than British appeal. The volume of the room is near perfect, a notch or two below chatty, but not “library” status. The room lacked intimidation most fine dining establishments offer by default. What I felt was more of an upscale late night eatery where you can bring your friends for good wine, good food and good conversation. I was happy to be there.
It was dineLA restaurant week. I started with the the first course, Grilled Kingfish Sashimi, Sauteed Foie Gras with Sake Soy Dressing. Phenomenal! So good it mind as well have been dessert. The texture was so cool on the tongue, and the fish so fresh I felt the poor thing probably had died minutes before it was served to me. The foie gras and sauce was exceptional. So impressive I forgot to take a picture. Moving on…
Second course: Braised Pork Belly and Sauteed Scallop, Curried Lentils, Pickled Vegetables. My goodness! The braised pork belly was a universal favorite that night according to my server, and I understood why as soon as that glorious piece of meat entered my mouth. The flavor of the scallop was balanced so nicely by the lentils, wedding bells were needed for this near perfect harmony. And that little onion, standing alone like that poor kid everyone picks lasts for their team, just laid there, shiny and small. It was my last bite of the second course when I finally realized how humanly-awesome an onion can possibly taste. It was like a creamy candy, a little sweet, a little taint. Best onion I’ve ever tasted. It deserved this long drawn-out excerpt.
Drumroll for the final dish… (DRUMROLL SOUND GOES HERE)…. please welcome the Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch with Salted Caramel Ice Cream. First bite of this beauty hits you like a slap in the face from from an angry girlfriend like in those Martin Scorcese movies. The chocolate, so rich, so firm, so sweet. The crunch, almost malt-like with a chocolate base coating was seriously… and I mean SERIOUSLY good. The only time I had a better dessert was at the now-closed-soon-to-be-relocated Sona by Chef David Myers. But that my friends, is for another blog, another time.
I found myself so impressed by the flavors and beyond content with the portions, a second visit is imperative. Oh West Hollywood, you’re a melting pot of culinary beauty that never tries too hard to impress, but ALWAYS does. A top 5 for Gordon Ramsay.