As our plates were finally being cleared away, past midnight, none of the weary diners at my table had anything horrible to say about their food. On the other hand, no one was babbling with rapturous excitement, either. Despite the solid quality of the cooking, there is a connect-the-dots feeling to dinner at Ramsay’s new restaurant, a sense, as the sommelier proffers his list of fancy Sauternes and the overburdened cheese cart trundles into view, that you’ve seen this all somewhere before. And, of course, you have. As at other gourmet establishments, there’s an elite “chef’s table” within the gleaming kitchen, and, to finish things off, a giant candy-laden “bonbon trolley” just like they used to have at Alain Ducasse. There is a respectable soufflé for dessert (with apricots), and two de rigueur chocolate dishes, one made, predictably, with chocolate from Valrhona. Ramsay even offers his diners a nice version of that aged haute cuisine warhorse, apple tarte Tatin. Is this the best tarte Tatin in New York City? Probably not. But I doubt you’ll find a better one in Shanghai or Dubai.
The London Bar
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Prices: Small plates range from $14 to $18.
Ideal meal: White-onion velouté with duck ragout, cured salmon “mi-cuit” with scrambled eggs, apple-and-caramel trifle.
Note: If you have a taste for bracing whiskey cocktails, take note of Ramsay’s signature drink, the Diablo, made with a blended Scotch, a Mathilde raspberry liqueur, a splash of lime and ginger beer, on the rocks.
Scratchpad: This confused operation is a gourmet small-plates restaurant masquerading as a hotel coffee shop masquerading as a fancy drinks bar.
Gordon Ramsay at the London
Address: 151 W. 54th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-468-8888
Hours: Lunch, noon to 2 p.m. Dinner, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Prices: The basic three-course prix fixe is $80.
Ideal meal: Caramelized sweetbreads, poached turbot or black bass, apple tarte Tatin.
Note: You may want to skip dessert and focus your attentions on the “bonbon trolley,” which features excellent chunks of candied honeycomb.
Scratchpad: Possibly Ramsay’s earlier London restaurants were imbued with passion and a certain ineffable sense of place. This one isn’t.