Sunday, January 25, 2015

London Calling

Taste Hell's Kitchen before it gets too hot

Take an A-list celebrity chef, add a remarkable dining experience at a newly renovated hotel on the Strip, and you've got one tough reservation: Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood.

Warning: While you can sample the master's recipes, you won't see the mercurial host of TV's Hell's Kitchen tearing his staff a new one in person. (He's too busy at his other locations around the world.)

This majestic, retro Victorian setting is set up to be a special occasion haunt for the long haul, an unmistakable Sunset scene that also delivers the culinary goods.

Don’t rely on the staff to help you select from the small, tapas-style plates, they're too busy running around aiming to please (we're still not sure whom) to steer you on course. Choose two items from each of three sections (divided into S/M/L portions), then add a market special or one more large dish if you're especially hungry.

Tiny rectangles of food never tasted so good. They're packed with flavor, and rich enough that another bite would be too much. Two of the larger dishes are the most memorable: arctic char with pickled mushrooms and a beef filet in port reduction. If you're a conservative eater, dare to go for foie gras and assorted pig parts (tail or tongue) — the portions are too unrecognizably small to induce queasiness.

Embrace the pig. That's the key to Chef Ramsay's success, and we're convinced.

Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood
1020 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood (310) 358-7788

Price: 4 (out of 4)  Noise: 3 (out of 4)
Parking: Hotel valet, or less than half the price at Larabee lot.
Scene: Scenesters; upscale European tourists; starstruck Hell's Kitchen fans
Best bets: Pan-fried arctic char with pickled mushrooms; Beef filet in red onions and port reduction with Kobe short rib; Baked foie gras custard with crispy duck tongue; sticky pudding
Nearby: BLT Steak; The Roxy; Comedy Store
Ask the expert: Bypass the unexceptional cocktail list. Hit up the knowledgeable sommelier for pairing suggestions.
No deal: Skip the $85 six-course tasting menu, where two of the dishes are desserts.

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