DINING OWL AWARD: 1st – value
When I visited: 2014, November 2015 and September 2016
Location: London, near Knightsbridge
Team: Gordon Ramsay (founder)
Rating in the Michelin Guide: 1 star
What to wear: Men – jeans or nice trousers and a shirt; women – jeans and a smart top or a smart dress
Ambience: Smart, quite intimate, quite busy, low lighting, lovely posh area, wine column in middle of room
Course of the meal: Fillet of Cornish cod with pickled lemon and beurre noisette potato
If I could change one thing: Fewer gaps in the service / less waiting for initial food
Gordon Ramsay needs no introduction and this restaurant, although much less formal and ultra-fine than Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, is really great and has the potential to get more Michelin stars in the future. It’s fantastic for a lunch date or for meeting friends. On my first visit, I particularly loved the chocolate sphere which was deservedly famous.
On my second visit with my partner Owl, we had good service and consistently tasty food throughout, with each course introduced and with the servers checking that we enjoyed each one.
We started with a glass each of Ayala Champagne, served with delicious canapés: salt and vinegar thin crisps with cream cheese mushroom dip served on a black slab. We opted to go with the tasting menu dinner (£95 per person) and got very useful assistance from the sommelier in choosing a bottle of white wine to go with it, which was slightly buttery to the taste and very fresh.
Before even getting onto the listed courses, we got a delicious amuse bouche of beef tea infused with parsnip, celeriac and other seasonal vegetables, with a display of dry ice from a teapot (almost a signature at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants) as well as gorgeously soft sourdough bread with salted butter.
The ‘starters’ were ballotine of Norfolk quail with pancetta, charred lettuce and jus gras, and seared Orkney scallops, braised kombu, bacon and egg sabayon (my partner Owl chose to substitute the Cornish and soft shell crab with yuzu dashi and avocado with squid crackers instead of the scallops, which was no problem with the staff).
The ‘mains’ began with the wonderful fillet of Cornish cod with pickled lemon and beurre noisette potato, followed by a choice of either the best end of Herdwick lamb with green pepper and smoked black olive tapenade, or Casterbridge short rib cooked over charcoal with dill purée and grelots – both meat courses were deliciously tender.
My partner Owl then had a cheese course, where a friendly French waiter helped with the choices of hard cheddar, goat’s cheese, a soft creamy cheese and a Roquefort with crackers, bread and Muscat grapes from Italy. Apparently the cheeses were good but would have been improved even further with some sweet bread or quince jelly.
The desserts began with “lemon meringue”, a slightly savoury-tasting palate cleanser, then the “Black forest” kirsch mousse with am arena and Morello cherry sorbet, which made a strong bid for ‘course of the meal’ as it was beautiful, completely well balanced and memorable.
We had green tea (which we were told to let infuse for a while) with petits fours – salted caramels which were so soft and sweet they were more like toffees. The petits fours were not the most impressive but I’d much rather have lacklustre petits fours than another part of the listed meal be sub-par.
We visited again to enjoy a set lunch voucher (the 4-course set lunch was £37 but as well as an amuse bouche this actually also included a bonus pre-dessert). The service was friendly again although there was a bit too much ‘gapping’ between the service at times – we had to wait a few minutes too long for any bread at the beginning and for dessert menus later on, and were not offered a pre-prandial drink.
However, the sommelier was very helpful and assisted us in choosing a bottle of white wine (a French Jura) which was a complex and buttery Chardonnay for £66. This went perfectly with all the food. We began with amuses bouches of fennel, lime and potato foam and moved on to starters of cod agnolotti with onions and garden salad with Brie mousse, which were both beautifully presented and well-balanced.
The mains were particularly good – suckling pig with pineapple, black pudding and crayfish, and a wonderfully flavourful linguine with mushrooms and aged Parmesan sauce. For the bonus pre-dessert we enjoy small bowls of textures of watermelon and lemon verbena, then my partner Owl had a cheese selection including a goat’s cheese, Somerset Brie and Roquefort as well as a ‘champagne’ cheese with sesame crackers and black grapes. The selection was well-chosen but could have done with another sweet element, such as quince jelly.
Our desserts were absolutely delicious – a dark chocolate tart with jasmine and lemon ice cream, and a white chocolate and lavender choux with plum sorbet, plum pieces and crumble. Both were complex and not too sweet but very satisfying.
Overall, Petrus provides a very enjoyable dining experience with excellent service and consistent food and drink quality.