Friday, 30 January 2009

my first (and only?) gordon ramsay experience

deciding where to have my graduation dinner was a big (and painful) deal. wanting to treat myself and my proud family to some luxury and prove my foodie italian dad that english food has come a long way since fish and chips, i searched the net incessantly for weeks, reading reviews and dissecting menus in the attempt to find the “perfect place”. it was all in vain, after all, i always knew i really, really wanted to go to one of gordon ramsey’s restaurants. i was a bit ashamed to admit it, as i was obviously judging him based on his tv appearances rather than any real knowledge of his culinary abilities, but in the end i gave in to my hidden desires and booked a table at boxwood cafè, berkley hotel in knightsbridge.

i was not disappointed, and neither was my family. the boxwood cafè didn’t resemble a cafè at all, but rather the classy and sophisticated restaurant i was dreaming of. the service was impeccable, as one would expect, so the only little thing i could really complain about was the loud clientele, mainly suited businessmen letting their hair down after a long day of financial frustrations. but i didn’t let that spoil my perfect evening.
the bread basket, accompanied by delicate butter and a smooth taramasalata, stimulated our appetite as we carefully inspected the menu and chose among the few, but all so tempting, dishes on offer. my mum and i chose a bizarre appetiser combining foie gras, brioche, pear and apricots. an explosion of flavours that left us very satisfied, if a bit less eager to savour our equally tempting main courses. dad had a modern version of cheviche and grandma a managed to order an onion soup that looked as sophisticated as oyster and caviar.

for the main, i went for pan-fried sea bass on a bed of steamed leeks and clams. the flavours were so delicate and perfectly combined that i only noticed at the very last bite how full i was, while trying to squeeze in one of my mum’s delicious salt-and-pepper tiger prawns. everyone around the table was sincerely elated by the quality and originality of the food, so that we couldn’t really say “no” to the dessert menu. my pear and almond tart was to die for, especially thanks to the bayleaf custard accompanying it, but i couldn’t keep my eyes off my dad’s tarte tatin, apparently the best he had every tried.

my reserves in choosing a tv chef for one of the most important nights of my life were luckily shattered by the amazing quality of ramsay’s boxwood cafè. i’m sure london’s full of classy, fancy, slightly pretentious restaurants catering to wealthy businessmen and their guests, but at boxwood the highlight is, without any doubt, the amazing food. it is an absolute pleasure to find delicious british food and prove all those grumpy foreign critics wrong. i just wish i could afford gordon’s treats more than once in a lifetime.