Ramsey’s Petrus Worth Every Star
This smart, contemporary, swirl of a restaurant, is a twist on Gordon's more formal establishments. The plush Belgravia address implies class and sophistication. With its’ sleek exterior and refined menu, it also suggested an achingly elegant, but potentially stiff experience. But, all was not as it appeared at first glance. A far more fun and relaxed atmosphere permeates inside. Plush deep red S- shaped velour banquettes offset an ornate tromp d’oueil to an otherwise simplistic and structural contemporary space. All swirls and curves, the room has a feminine feel to it. With a Michelin – 3 star status implying the level of ‘fine dining’ associated with minimal, ethereal qualities that elevate dishes into works of art – you expect a certain magic.
The circular room has a giant rotating thermostat controlled cave displaying all the wines, which stand tall as a focal point. Tables are placed around this homage to the grands crus/vintages, where diners sit around the circumference. As an indication to the wine list a vintage Petrus produced wine comes in at the modest price of £49,500. It is the kind of place you expect deals to be won in- the feeling that anything is possible when you walk through the door, as you take in the statement the décor makes.
"A Vintage Petrus produced wine comes in at the modest price of £49,500"
When I first took my frost-coated limbs through the door, I was expecting to be met with an even more ice-cold professionalism. Instead, an organised, warm and friendly restaurant manager Polyanna put me at ease like an old friend. We chatted lightheartedly about the clientele and the atmosphere, and she promptly sat me down with a glass of champagne, whilst I waited for my friend.
A plate of delicate amuses bouches’ followed that almost looked too pretty to eat. Taking just one mere mouthful was enough to take my tastebuds to 7th heaven. Foie gras on sweetbreads, brie in filo pastry that crumbled into buttery flakes came on a silver tray resembling petit fours. In addition, to these delicate canapés, came a bundle of cod and lime croquettes, next to a cornet of American salted popcorn, adding some simple home comforts in a meltingly good and reassuringly uncomplicated form.
This is typical of how Ramsey shines with simple dishes that use extravagant ingredients to provide a taste sensation so intense, you feel like your palate has been taken to uncharted territories. He plays it safe to a certain extent though, shaking off any trend towards molecular influences. There is no question as to whether or not the dishes will work, And if you look at the basis for the menu, you realise that whilst largely Modern European, tinges of Pan-Asian influence, such as the seabass with citrus and coriander are as adventurous as it gets.
Generally, the influences are French and Italian, with borlotti beans, truffles and offel, fused into meat and fish dishes, as an example of what’s on offer. French sauces are exquisite, with the sauce gribache that came with my starter of shredded veal in breadcrumbs creamier than a baby’s bottom. My Lobster tail came minus the shell, as luscious lobes of white flesh, with a side sauce of delicate vanilla and lemon. The balance of flavours was exceptional, with the slight sweetness of the vanilla, complimenting the sweet fleshiness of the lobster tail, and given a sharp tinge with lemon.
"What better accompaniment than an elegant mineral Puligny Montrachet 2008 from the burgundy region."
My friend’s signature dish of fillet of pork was tender, without being too fatty. Accompaniments of gratin dauphinois, which can sometimes fail, did not disappoint either. She was given a trendy Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. This wine region has recently become celebrated for its award –winning merlots and pinot noir bouquets.
The food here is elegant, but tasty enough to warrant that pleasurable sensation that comes from having a good meal. There was nothing to fault or even to not justify the price tag of going to a 3 star Michelin star restaurant. But, with the tendency for other Michelin menus, to be overly creative, without enough substance, Ramsey’s classically hip Belgravia joint cannot be accused of basking in complacency.
The dishes may not be dangerously inventive, but they are meltingly good. If you are partial to fine cuts of meat and high grade seafood, prepared French style, in refined sauces - then you will love Petrus.
Petrus is at 1 Kinnerton Street,
London SW1X 8EA
Words by Sandrine Lester