So, how was the food?
(Note: All food pics by Alex Berliner©Berliner Studio/BEImages)
This is a fried cube of headcheese (otherwise known as pigs head — remember "Little House in the Big Woods"?), topped w/ two tiny slices of cornichon. The description sent a few guests squicking and squealing, but I will order this when I visit the London for dinner.
Seared steak wrapped around spring garlic. Good, but not extraordinary.
Chilled seafood consommé with caviar, cauliflower puree and sea urchin; this one knocked me out. A colleague rejected it as "salt on salt," but I beg to differ. Actually, no begging necessary: I had two. He’s just wrong.
Tuna roll w/ flying fish roe was good, not great. I don’t think sushi is really meant for crowded cocktail parties. And as a Los Angeles restaurant, why bother with sushi as a sideline? You’re always going to come up short.
Waygu beef wrapped around a boiled quail egg and shishito pepper sounded (and looked) more interesting than it was. Less attractive but more delicious was pieces of flatbread topped with foie gras and roasted figs.
Desserts included passionfruit marshmallows, macaroons in assorted flavors (including pink peppercorn with olive oil) and, most memorably, a tiny chocolate tart topped with a salted caramel chocolate truffle.
To drink was Pol Roger Champagne, an unoaked Chardonnay by Kim Crawford (in a screwtop bottle!) and La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain. All were lovely.
Fittingly, the music was largely British: Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Elvis Costello as well as more current choices like the Good The Bad & the Queen, Stone Roses and Pulp. (Note to other LA DJs: Try playing music w/ words! Folks really dig it!)
And what of the man himself?
Well, he’s the perfect Hollywood chef, isn’t he? He’s got more than a decade of TV experience and he treated the pre-party press corps that stampeded his kitchen with the same regard as a Sysco delivery. Neither ‘tude nor toady, he was professional and polite, if a little too polished. At this point, there appears to be a causal connection between the camera’s flash bouncing off stainless steel and Ramsay’s meaty forearms moving into their patent-pending pose.
For what it’s worth, Ramsay seemed to enjoy his own party. He wore a jacket and tie for the occasion and spent much of the evening sipping Champagne with David Beckham.
Now that the party’s over, who will return on their own dime? Any hotel restaurant has the luxury of being a loss leader, but there’s a lot of big tables in there — the kind custom-made for beautiful people who want to look at Ramsay, not the prices. Of course, Ramsay may not be able to oblige; he’s got 21 other restaurants in the world.
As for the foodies? Pulitzer-winning critic Jonathan Gold came away from his first visit less than impressed. However, Ramsay’s success may ride as much on the cadre of short-skirted, stiletto-heeled lovelies who made their way to the bar last night, looked past the cadre of waiting Champagne flutes and ordered a Red Bull — sugar-free, please.