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
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
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

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform