Gordon Ramsay restaurant: A Kitchen Nightmare?

Is this Gordon Ramsay restaurant worthy your trip and money? Our food & drinks sub-editor, Marcel tells us his experience.

Marcel Shamshoum
26th February 2022
Heddon Street Kitchen dining room/ Image: Instagram (@heddonstkitchen)
As a kid I remember going back home from school to my grandma’s house, finish my homework and sit on the teli, especially Wednesdays when Hell’s kitchen was on. I was around 10 years old when I first got introduced to Gordon Ramsay, and I’ve got to admit Hell’s Kitchen isn’t the best show for a 10 year old to watch, but certainly the best show to introduce Gordon to anyone who has never seen him. Anyways, since then I’ve never missed a show he had, even the bad ones like ‘Hotel Hell’ - honestly what was that about? Nevertheless, I grew up admiring Ramsay’s cooking and still do to this day, and dining at one of his restaurants was always a dream that I thought would never come true; but it did and here is how it went…

Before I begin though let me point out that I wasn’t supposed to go there, I was looking for a different restaurant but unfortunately couldn’t find it. But what I found was Heddon street kitchen, one of Ramsay’s most famous restaurants, so I thought I’ll cease the moment and fulfil my childhood dream. As I entered the restaurant, I was welcomed in a dim, empty dining room, some would say ‘modern’, but I found it mediocre. As we passed the reception area and the shelf stacked with Gordon’s cookbooks, we were taken to our table and were given the menus straight away – so far so good. However, what shocked me was the emptiness of the restaurant. You’d assume that any Gordon Ramsay restaurant would require booking weeks in advance, let alone on a weekend. It wasn’t the case when I went!

Spicy tuna tartare with wonton crisps, crème fraiche and avocado/ Image: Marcel Shamshoum

A quick glimpse at the menu and I knew I was buying the Gordon Ramsay brand, it’s like going to a Chanel buying a rubbish looking bag but paying thousands of pound because - well its Chanel! Nevertheless, I remained seated eager to taste some of the renowned chef’s dishes.  So we started our Ramsay experience with a spicy tuna tartare with wonton crisps, crème fraiche and avocado. Now as a spice lover myself I can vouch that the tuna was nowhere near spicy, in fact overwhelmed with what I assume was soya sauce. The crème fraiche was room temperature, which made it taste a bit off, even though I’m sure it wasn’t (cause let’s face it, Gordon’s got standards) – but it did taste weird though. The wontons were fine, crispy and salty as they should be. Put all that aside, the avocado was nowhere to be found!

Slow roasted Cumbrian saddleback pork belly, Braeburn apples with apple pure served with a classic jus/ Image: Marcel Shamshoum

Our next starter was a Prawn cocktail salad with cucumber, pink grape fruit, and avocado. This time the avocado was there, and I’ll admit that it was light, refreshing and good. However, the last time prawn cocktails were found on a menu in a restaurant would probably be in the late 70’s; I think Gordon could do better than prawn cocktails. On to our mains; I got the slow roasted Cumbrian saddleback pork belly, Braeburn apples with apple pure served with a classic jus. At first sight the dish looked majestic, the pork belly succulent and well cooked with a very crispy looking crackling.  I dove into the dish as an Olympian fighting for a gold medal, but as I took my first stroke I hit the edge of the pool; the jus was slightly bitter, it tasted a bit burnt. On the other hand the apple pieces and pure managed to lift up the dish with the sweet and sour kick, they refreshed my pallet and made the dish reach the finish line, it didn’t win a medal though.

We often think that celebrity chefs restaurants are worthy a trip, the experience there will be out of this world, exceptional and unique -  and I’d agree to some extent. However, Heddon street kitchen is  one out of 30 plus restaurants by Gordon Ramsay, I believe after two, such restaurants become generic and lose their authenticity. This in no way means that Gordon is just another celebrity chef, his restaurant Petrus for example has been retaining its Michelin stars for over 20 years, this shows high standards and exceptional quality cooking; that doesn’t mean all of his restaurant have the same standards. So, the end message is will I ever return to Heddon street Kitchen? No, I don’t think so. But look at the bright side, now I can officially say that I dined at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant and my childhood dream came true (more like a kitchen nightmare).    

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