London House, restaurant review: Fabulous, fantastic, formidable - any and all would describe Gordon Ramsay's latest

 

I think I've been doing this lark just long enough to know that when reviewing a Gordon Ramsay establishment, you're meant to start off with some long anecdote about how you crossed swords with the effing blond years ago, spat at him in his own restaurant, and vowed to destroy his evil business empire in your remaining days on earth, if it's the one thing you ever do. Alas, I'm a bit jejune for all that. So let's just crack on and talk about the food, shall we?

Oh, actually, wait a second. There was this one time when our paths crossed. On reflection, I think I'd better tell you about that. Dereliction of duty not to, etc.

I was 18 and working as a waiter at Common Ground, a blissful café in Wandsworth Common, south London, run by a wonderful Geordie we called "Ron" Rooney, and his extremely charming, Independent-reading wife. Me and my mate Simon had answered a local ad and found work clearing Ron's cellar, cleaning his toilet, and painting his walls. Eventually he gave us jobs as waiters. Founding waiters, we were. Soon after, Ramsay, who lived nearby, came in.

Penne pasta with hot tomato sauce he ordered, off the kids' menu, and I took his order. A bit later, I gave it to him, or rather his kid, and he was very nice about it. Gordon was pleasant too, and thanked me with what seemed sincerity. Then I served some other posh customer cupcakes, or some such. That's the extent of my dealings with Gordon Ramsay.

For his latest opening – not far away, in fact, in Battersea – we took my mother-in-law and her partner, Chesh, who knows a lot about food. So much, in fact, that he ended up head of catering at Weymouth College, where Mark Hix initially learnt his craft. Chesh later describes this as, "the best meal out I've had in a long time", which is saying something. Put all the crap about the celebrity patron-chef out of your mind, and recognise: the food at London House is unfailingly exceptional.

We've decided to pass each dish around after a taste, an approach which has costs and benefits. Of the starters, the braised pig's head croquette with quail's egg, pickled carrot and caper mayonnaise is memorably good: the croquette alternately crisp and soft and always warm, the egg perfectly runny, the rest of the dish acidic and cutting. The seared Scottish scallops are some of the best I've ever had, and come with a Waldorf salad; the gremolata-crusted yellow-fin tuna, meanwhile, comes with a translucent, golden beetroot and anchovies that have a delicious Oriental twang. Though the dish is not half as delicious, or twangy, as the crab tortellini with black radish and a pungent shellfish broth.

There are seven options for mains, and the four we try are just wonderful. The Cartmel Valley venison haunch with creamed cauliflower and braised puy lentils is warming and full of game flavour; the Norfolk chicken with butter-roasted sweet potato comes with a little fried polenta cake that is fluffy on the inside; the ray wing is meaty and succulent, and has salt-baked beetroot, Parmesan, kale and cabbage salad for company; and the Cumbrian beef has a beautiful spiced parsnip – not chilli-hot, just spicy – with a world-beating stuffed potato gnocchi. These little globules of starchy joy have braised beef cheek inside, ribbons of hot tender flesh, and would be worth the trip to Battersea all by themselves.

It's come to something when inflation in London is so severe that three courses for lunch at £28 represents a bargain. But this is the best three courses for less than £30 I've tasted in a long time, especially given the calibre of desserts. There's a nougat parfait with Yorkshire rhubarb (think the best Viennetta you've ever had); rum-and-raisin baba; chocolate tart with Jerusalem artichoke ice-cream and salted caramel (it works, trust me); and the brightest, boldest passion-fruit posset with cardamom and ginger oatcakes.

Together with a pretty reasonable wine list, that makes London House an uncomplicated delight from first mouthful to last. Ramsay's private life, and the lack thereof, have rather coloured his public forays of late; but this is a reminder that he is at base an extraordinarily competent kitchen hand who knows how to build an exquisite restaurant.

9/10

London House, 7-9 Battersea Square, London SW11, Tel: 020 7592 8545. £110 for two, with wine

Four more things I've been eating this week

Pea, wasabi & cream cheese dip

Of all the little dips M&S does, this may be the blandest. Not many calories; not much kick.

Rich Tea fingers

Biscuit of the week is the classic Rich Tea, whose malty flavour I have lately grown addicted to all over again.

Tandoori prawns

It's expensive, but when politicos ask to meet in the Cinnamon Club, you can't say no. At £28, this is over-priced – and unforgettable.

Copella apple juice

I don't like apples, but I do love apple juice. Don't ask. We got some of this stuff on a bogof deal, and it didn't last long.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment