Thursday, September 14, 2006

Small noise

Has Gordon Ramsay spread himself too thinly?

That's what I started to wonder at lunch at La Noisette in Knightsbridge, the latest outpost of the Ramsay empire.

The location is either inauspicious or cursed, having seen off various restaurants (including another Ramsay launch, Pengelley's, headed by Ian Pengelley, who is now at Gilgamesh in Camden) in the last few years. We also managed to walk right past it due to Sloane Street's confusing numbering system and the fact it's on the third floor.

The next problem was that it is very, very brown. You may know I hate brown as the result of sporting an all-brown school uniform for most of my formative years. There was also what appeared to be a mural of a Tuscan hillside. What this had to do with the French-ish cooking is beyond me. The ceilings were brown too.

Mind you, the staff are excellently drilled - attentive without being overbearing. I imagine their professionalism must be stretched to the limit in trying to explain the menu. It's horrifically confusing, but I'll try.

Right, you can either have a starter from the starter selection, or from the 'summer favourites', followed by a main. Or you can create a crazy tapas effect by having all the summer favourites. Or you can have the set lunch. Or you can have a tasting menu, which chef Bjorn Van Horst makes up on the spot from what he finds in the cupboards and got that morning from market.

Confused? I was, and settled for the set lunch (a very reasonable £21 for 3 courses, although there's only one choice of pudding with that). My companion went for the a la carte (the one with a starter and a main), lured by the hangover curative properties of the watermelon carpaccio.

My starter of pate on broiche was very very good, if absolutely fucking minuscule - literally a two square inches of pate one centimetre thick. Had I not been placated by the gorgeousness of the artichoke soup pre-starter, there might have been a riot.

On to the main: rabbit tagliatelle with bacon and onion. Now, I love rabbit, and this was good rabbit - like chicken, only better and meatier and tastier. The pasta was beautifully cooked, and the onions sweated to beautiful sweetness.

But then I tried to fork one of the cubes of bacon. And failed. I tried again, harder. It pinged off across the bowl. I was determined though, and tried a two-handed fork manoeuvre. Victory!

My triumph was, however, short-lived. Because it was without exception the saltiest thing I have ever put in my mouth. I made a face. My companion looked up. By this point, I was panicking. I gulped down some wine, but was making little progress chewing it. If I spat it into my napkin, would Gordon himself ping into existence and shout at me?

Then I began to wonder - was I supposed to have eaten it? Was this the equivalent of sending back the gazpacho because it was cold, or eating the bouquet garni? Maybe the waiting staff were sniggering at me.

I was at a loss. How could such a small thing have clouded my experience like this? I was still dwelling on it when the baked figs arrived (excellent). Perhaps I'll never know...


Anonymous taste said...

Brown-a-phobia eh? That would explain all the screaming when the brown (and pink, I ask you...) bed spread is deployed...

Probably shouold avoid the whole of Coventry too.

9/14/2006 1:36 pm  
Blogger Léonie said...

I was going to comment on this post but then I saw the last one and have collapsed into a sobbing heap, rendering me unable to type.

(are your leggings brown?)

9/15/2006 1:45 pm  
Blogger galatea said...

No, they are black. Also, due to New Look's, er, generous sizing policy, they are far too big.

I reckon that they will look ace with a mini-skirt and old skool trainers. But I have been wrong on such things in the past.

9/15/2006 1:48 pm  
Blogger Léonie said...

Baggy leggings? Awesome.

9/15/2006 2:34 pm  
Blogger Sarah Louise Parry said...

Hmmmm... brown interiors... eating... a bit library chic sounding to me. I think he's opened so many outlets these days that ole Ramsey cannot keep tabs on the quality.

9/16/2006 5:07 pm  
Blogger a.c.t said...

I had some bacon with pasta last night and it salty as hell but not chewy though. You should have sent it back. Hmm saying that, I'd be a bit scared in case the F-in' and blindin' Ramsey was lurking in the kitchen.

9/20/2006 4:45 pm  

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