Saturday, February 28, 2009

Verre by Gordon Ramsay

Golden Treasures

I've come to the Middle East with one goal in mind. Oil? Nah. Gordon Ramsay's Verre? Ooh Yah. Missing out on the opportunity when I was in London made me determined to right the wrong, and I made sure to rsvp way in advance to avoid disappointment.

The restaurant was near empty when I arrived, by no fault of the chef; it was the month of Ramadan, which explained the quieter then usual atmosphere of the entire city. The crowd and energy of the place would pick up as the night went on.

Canape Tray

The Canape Tray, complimentary of Verre, is served as you settle in and ponder over the simple yet exceedingly tempting dinner menu. It was a brilliant ensemble of Croutons, Bread Sticks and & Shoo Buns with Truffle Oil & Cream, served with Goat's Cheese & Rosemary, & Harrissa Pepper Dip.

The light crisp croutons slathered with the goat's cheese was simple yet flavorful. The bread sticks, covered in fragrantly toasted sesame seeds were good on their own. The shoo (mushroom) buns were daintily sized but packed a punch, and the truffle oil and cream accentuated the earthy richness of the mushrooms. Last but not least, 2 thumb sized choux pastries, pipped with more goats cheese, which I gleefully popped in.

Asparagus Cappuccino with Trumpet Mushroom

While I was still lost for choice with the menu, the maitre'd served me another house speciality, Gordon Ramsay's famous soup cappuccino, a poshed up version of soup in a cup. This creamy white concoction of asparagus with trumpet mushrooms sitting at the bottom was another rich combination of flavors made very light by frothing the soup and serving it in an espresso cup, good for one sip and to whet your appetite with.

Ravioli of Scottish Lobster & Salmon

Delighted with the soup, I decided to go with more signature dishes I have read about and seen GR cook on tv. 2 entrees was the way to go, the maitre'd recommended. The ravioli, cooked on his programs and recreated again in Kitchen Nightmares was one I had to go for.

One ravioli goes a long way. The gently cooked salmon chucks held their shape and there was no skimping on the sweet lobster either. Resting on a bed of butter glazed lettuce, surrounded by crunchy baby asparagus, and ginger veloute served table side, poured into the waiting plate, it brought all the different flavors together beautifully.

Calves Sweetbread

Sweetbread, which I have not heard of before GR, let alone taste, was my next obvious choice. Cooked much like foie gras, seared quickly to caramelize without overcooking or drying out this delicate gland, it was neither unpalatable nor strong tasting as I had expected: It had the texture of foie gras and tasted mildly like kidneys.

Served with equally exotic cep mushrooms and Jerusalem artichoke veloute, this was a crowd pleaser. And the voloute was good on its own. I finished it to the last drop, long after the sweetbread were gone.

Complementary Chocolate Tray

Done with my meal, content and satisfied, out came another sweet surprise. Chocolates and meringues, oh how could I refuse (or resist)?

A Little Memento

I am no fan of high end dining, and this may be the first in memory of my stepping into such a fancy establishment, but I have to say, unabashedly, it may also be one of the best meals of my life. From the discrete attention paid by the staff to the keen attention paid to every plate presented, this meal has been an absolute and priceless delight.

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