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Restaurant Review: Heddon Street Kitchen

February 6, 2015

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It was Giles Coren’s worst nightmare: a large table full of food bloggers. Thankfully some good people in the food world – namely, this evening, Heddon Street Kitchen and Roche Communications – seem to think that food bloggers deserve a bit of respect. Thus a group of us were invited to dine at one of Gordon Ramsay’s newest restaurants, Heddon Street Kitchen. Tucked in a small area now known as Regent Street’s Food Quarter in London’s Mayfair, it’s in a prime location for shoppers, theatregoers and office workers. Open 7 days a week from breakfast until dinner, you can pop in anytime for a snack, a meal or evening cocktails.

The Kitchen opened last autumn to a mixed reception and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I haven’t always felt I ‘like’ Gordon Ramsay – though I’m coming round, especially after his ‘Bad Boys’ project at Brixton Prison – but I’ve always had a lot of respect for his food. A meal at Maze a few years ago was one of the best I’ve ever had and real gastronomic highlight. Last year I enjoyed a meal at Union Street Café – a much more ordinary affair but good food at good prices. So how would Heddon Street Kitchen fare? Well there’s nothing like a nice cocktail on arrival to put you in the right frame of mind. I chose the Kitchen’s take on an aperol spritzer.

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It was the first of four cocktails that came our way through the evening and remained my favourite, with my taking just sips of the others to taste them. But then I’m not really a cocktail person. The restaurant itself is a large open area combining industrial utility with a touch of chic: dimmed lighting, exposed pipes, comfy banquette seating. It’s all very inviting and there was quite a buzz in the air creating a good atmosphere. It was somewhere you could happily sit, especially with a group of friends, for the whole evening. The menu caters to this. You could eat a traditional 3-course meal or order a selection of plates to share. For us bloggers, food came on large sharing platters from things to nibble on when we arrived, to starters, mains and then desserts.

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The antipasti plate with its sliced meats, olives and nuts and some very moreish Parmesan breadsticks with Parma ham wrapped round them, was nice enough – but then hard to get wrong. The starters that followed were more substantial affairs.

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First came some fish: Fried Rock Oysters, Fennel & Lemon Confit Salad; Spicy Tuna Tartare; and a maki roll with snow crab mix on top. I may not be in to cocktails but I’m a great lover of oysters; I’d never had them cooked before. They were cooked well enough; still moist and soft. But why cook an oyster? You lose that whole gorgeous taste of the sea experience. But I guess some people like them cooked; just like some people want to put in mixer into a wonderful single malt. I liked the crab and tuna. And then we moved on to meat starters. These were pretty full-on.

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I found it hard to imagine wanting them as a starter rather than a main. But fine for a sharing table. The Roasted Veal Carpaccio sounded like a starter; but why ‘roast’ it? I like my beef carpaccio raw. Unfortunately it was pretty tasteless, we all thought. The Potted Beef Brisket with piccalilli and buckwheat crackers was tasty (some thought it salty but I was OK with it); the Tamarind Chicken Wings were also good. The first mains to come were a Mac Cheese and plate of cooked meats.

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The macaroni cheese was decidedly uninspired, lacking the depth of cheesy flavour that one expects; the macaroni pieces too small and overcooked.

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The grilled lamb chops were well liked, and I enjoyed the slow-roasted pork belly and apple sauce. A fish dish came too, spiced with piperade and chorizo.

 

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It was OK; not quite as an exciting dish as it sounded. An appealing plate of desserts arrived after a short interlude.

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The chocolate fondant was a great success: the outside sponge light and chocolatey; the middle opening to a gorgeous gooey delight. I liked the smooth crème fraîche ice cream and the crème brûlée . The pineapple carpaccio was liked a lot too but the ‘classic’ pear tart – thin pear slices on a frangipane sponge base lacked flavour and was a bit heavy.

It had been a great evening. I loved meeting the fabulous bunch of food bloggers; I liked the buzzy atmosphere. And it’s a brilliant location. The food, sadly, was a bit disappointing. The name ‘Gordon Ramsay’ brings a certain expectation and at the moment, Heddon Street Kitchen doesn’t match up to that name. I can see I’d happily pop in again if in the area; it’s a lively, friendly place for a group of people to meet after work. But it lacks that ‘wow’ factor one expects from Gordon.
Heddon Street Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

2 Comments
  1. Interesting. I feel the same about Gordon Ramsay but have never eaten his food (although he set up a restaurant in Dubai which was excellent … but this was primarily down to two talented chefs that ran it). The menu you tasted looks great on paper – too bad it didn’t deliver. If you are going to served this sort of simple comfort food it has to be flawless and so good you want to lick the plate clean. Admire your honesty in this review.

    • Many thanks, Sally. The experience highlighted why I don’t normally accept free meals for a review! It’s harder to write a harsh review when it’s come free. But it was great to get together with a group of other lovely food bloggers.

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