A restaurant so hotly anticipated that every food critic in London cannot keep their pens off it, naturally we could not help but give it a try. Star-studded chef Gordon Ramsay brought his Japanese-style eatery dream to life within the former maze walls and with his last UK opening being Union Street Café in 2013, a newbie in his restaurant fleet was long overdue.
As with all new openings, we arrived with some trepidation, but the restaurant experience at Lucky Cat by Gordan Ramsay sure did impress. From the sommelier to the expertly plated dishes, attentive service and yes, the Gordon Ramsay charm.
Walking up to the Asian-inspired restaurant on Grosvenor Square, with its sultry Japanese interiors influenced by the drinking dens of yesteryear, I was jittery, buzzed by the excitement of a big-name chef’s new haunt.
As we arrived, we were taken into the swanky bar area lined with black and gold Maneki-Neko figurines, an obvious theme throughout. Sitting in mauve studded-velvet booths surrounded by dressed-up dates, drinks were served: the fragrant and fruity ‘Polynesian punch’ in a tiki head and a ‘lucky negroni’. The latter involved a roll of dice to pick the flavour mix, rolling 3, 4, 1: a citrusy concoction with chilli-infused vermouth swirling around a Lucky Cat-engraved ice block.
Moving into the main restaurant, we were seated across from the raw bar, admiring the chefs at work while lucky cats waved back. A sommelier suggested an easy-drinking Californian red while prawn toast nibbles arrived at the table. Dusted in toasted sesame, the bites were soft inside with an acidic kick of kimchi and had a crispy outer which left a lingering nuttiness.
Second, was a tender plate of wagyu tataki with a drizzle of truffle ponzu dressing and roasted garlic. This umami dish released its herbaceous flavours as I chewed, delivering meaty mouthfuls with added earthiness from the truffle shavings.
Perks of diligent service included having the cured salmon dressed at the table, pouring a subtle citrus ponzu around the sashimi with its blobs of zesty shiso mayonnaise on the side. The vibrant dish’s flavours worked together to produce a sweet and fresh initial tang followed by bursts of salty fish oil from the caviar. The mix of textures and lively taste makes for a dish I would highly reccomend.
Next, we had the Nikka whisky-glazed pork belly skewers with a sharp yuzu mustard dip. The pork was succulent and rich in seasoning, with its charred outer caramelising the fat. An unexpected favourite of the evening.
Following this, the bonito-fried duck leg with plump bao buns and a spicy hoisin sauce was brought to the table. The waitress pulled apart crispy skin to reveal juicy duck to fill our DIY bao buns. Although a quaint experience, stuffing the buns with cucumber added freshness to the homely bao, leaving you feeling like you could grab a few and head out for the day.
Rounding the meal off, we were brought a palate-cleansing oolong tea named the ‘iron goddess of mercy’ with subtle grassy and lasting floral notes. Adding to the sweetness was the dorayaki dessert, a Japanese pancake styled like a Jaffa Cake that was frequently ordered around us. Rolled in toasted sesame for added crunch and served with crème fraîche ice cream, the pancakes sandwiched a gooey centre of Jaffa ganache, with its nutty chocolate filling pulling together the dish.
Last was Ramsay’s own rum baba speciality, a sweet and sour cake contrasted with roasted pineapple, ice cream and golden desiccated coconut. The sponge, soaked in sake and rum, oozed with each exploding mouthful while the charred pineapple chunks added vim and vigour. This was a whole plate experience, with each element working together to create a zingy yet sweet mouthfeel.
All in all, Ramsay’s Lucky Cat delivered an eve of sumptuous Asian-inspired dishes and eager service that certainly would pique the interest of those looking for an excuse to splash out on small plates to share.
Lucky Cat by Gordon Ramsay
10 Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, London, W1K 6JP