Despite how much of Gordon Ramsay I’ve seen, heard and read as a result of his constantly churning PR machine of TV shows, recipe books and other media streams, it only recently occurred to me that I had never actually eaten at one of his restaurants before. With his latest Bread Street Kitchen venture rocking up a few doors down from the office, it was a calling to finally give in. I was due to have a catch-up with A & H, a couple of ol’ work buddies of mine, and there couldn’t have been a more fitting venue than in the heart of the City where we all started out together more than 5 years ago… clueless summer interns at the bottom of the corporate food chain.
…nothing like a great bottle of Pinot Noir while reminiscing about the good ol’ days
For someone who’s global restaurant empire was recently rumoured to be in financial turmoil, BSK looks like a hell of an ambitious project given the sheer size and scale of the venture. The still gleaming chequer-board tiles and beech wood dining tables go on for seemingly forever… they must be able to take upwards of 100 covers in the upper level alone. The raw exposed brickwork and industrial warehouse-style wine cellars running overhead in the lofts add to the sense of space, giving this all-day, urban bistro a stateside-chic yet casual feel.
Starters, though by no means cheap, were well executed with that anal attention to detail that you would come to expect of a Ramsay run franchise. Octopus Carpaccio from the ‘raw bar’ came in beautifully thin, cross-sectional layers. The octopus tentacle meat which had been carefully merged and packed together was tender and sweet, with bursts of flavour from the capers and black olives scattered over. If only the portioning was a little less miserly. H‘s Orkney Scallops were juicy and caramelised nicely. There was a good balance of flavours from the sweet yet savoury treacle bacon and bittercress garnish. On the whole, a pleasing combination.
Baked Orkney Scallops with carrot puree, treacle bacon and cress (£12)
Both A and myself went for BSK’s short-rib burger. Given I had read many a mixed review about the burger leading up to the meal, I was intrigued at what would ensue. My verdict? – as far as burgers go, its definitely up there. The best I’ve ever had though? – probably not (Bar Boulud’s Piggy Burger still has my heart in that regard). I really liked BSK’s sweet, toasty warm brioche bun and oozey goodness of the melted Bermondsey frier cheese. The burger meat itself which I had asked to be cooked to a medium-rare was very juicy with a great depth of flavour. I did find the texture of the short-rib meat a little over-minced and gentrified for my liking… it could have been left coarser for a more rustic, carnivorous bite.
In terms of other mains, the crackling of H‘s slow-cooked Pork Belly could have been a little crisper, but the melt in the mouth meat and comforting spiced apple sauce was otherwise hard to fault. Their huge hand-cut chips, albeit an extra £3.50 in damages, are a must. Crunchy and crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, it was completely on point and arguably more satisfying than the main courses themselves!
Although it’s pricey for what it is (£150 for the 3 of us, including a bottle and a half of wine), I have my money on BSK being a stayer. The grub here, though not exactly mind-blowing, is decent enough and the place manages to pull off that informal yet classy urban brasserie feel that will continue to appeal to the broader City demographic for years to come.
10 Bread Street, Ec4M 9AJ, London | www.breadstreetkitchen.com | Thurs’ 10th Nov 2011