IT’S NOW POSSIBLE TO EAT Gordon Ramsay from New York to London to Tokyo. Theonly other Ramsay restaurant I have eaten in is Pengelleys in Sloane Square, London and unfortunately, this shut down around the time I was sitting down to my meal at the Conrad before Christmas.
My expectations were high for this modern French restaurant. It has seven-metre floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city. There was an open kitchen at one end and a large mirrored wall at the other, and the lighting was set to a romantic level with a candle on each table. There were mainly couples when I was eating at around 1930. The tables had white tablecloths and highbacked padded green chairs.
Strangely, the people seated at the windows had their chairs facing inwards towards the rest of the room, which made me feel a little uncomfortable as I was alone and seated in the middle of the restaurant. I would have preferred to sit with my back to the wall. The table was set for two although I was alone.
The waiters were smartly dressed in grey and white and, shortly after I was seated, brought over an appetiser of foie gras and sour cream with bread sticks and croutons. I thought someone should have noted when I was finished, but I waited for half an hour without anyone approaching me before I asked for the full menu. Then it emerged that there had been a small misunderstanding – the staff thought I was waiting for someone and did not want to make me feel uncomfortable by asking where they were.
I chose the festive Christmas menu and, once I had made my choice, it seemed the kitchen focused solely on me as my courses arrived swiftly, each brought by a waiter on a silver tray.
First, there were three types of bread followed by a deliciously light and creamy amuse bouche of warm artichoke cream served in a little bowl. The salmon rillet with caviar chantilly and fennel and herb salad was served in a very generous portion, and this was followed by a good-sized Jerusalem artichoke risotto with cherry vinegar reduction.
It was the main course that really got my interest: tender rare roasted saddle of venison with a superb hermitage sauce rested on top of spinach and mushrooms. For dessert, I had the hot chocolate fondant, which was delicious but one mouthful too much for me and I felt terrible leaving half of it. The head chef (aptly named Andy Cook) originally worked in London and is one of Ramsay’s protégées.
PRICES: My meal cost Y14,000 (US$120) without wine. A glass of wine is around Y1,000 (US$9) and 1998 Dom Perignon glass for Y6,000 (US$51).
OPENING HOURS: Open daily for lunch and dinner, 1100 to 2300.