Gordon Ramsay Holdings' latest opening, Bread Street Kitchen, heralds a new direction for the celebrity chef's company. Kerstin Kühn went to visit
Gordon Ramsay's annus horribilis has certainly given the British press plenty to feed on, with the high-profile sacking of his father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, the sale of his two London pubs and the liquidation of his Australian business.
But things are looking up at Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) and according to managing director Stuart Gillies there's now a new strategy to drive the business forward. "We have had a good look at the company and what's not working and we're now focusing on what will work pound-for-pound," he says.
The first step towards this next chapter was the opening of Bread Street Kitchen (BSK) at the One New Change shopping mall in the City of London last month. Delayed by a year, the £5m restaurant is arguably one of GRH's most ambitious new openings. The site, located next door to Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa, is massive, seating 230 diners in a warehouse-like space that exudes a buzzy, New York-style brasserie atmosphere. At the heart of the operation is an informal approach to dining - guests can drop in for a drink, snack or three-course meal from 7am to 11pm.
The interior, developed by Russell Sage Studio, is inspired by the industrial roots of East London and combines an eclectic mix of mismatched reclaimed furniture, antique glass lampshades and leather banquettes with warehouse features such as huge windows and gantries.
The open kitchen stretches the length of the restaurant and includes a raw bar at the front, a wood stone oven in the middle and the main open kitchen towards the back. Here head chef Erion Karaj and his team busy themselves with speedily turning out dishes from the vast menu, which, like the kitchen, is divided into three sections.
The raw bar, which lists only starters, includes things like ceviche and carpaccio as well as a king crab and apple cocktail with pink peppercorns (£15). "We wanted to do something fun and give it a bit of a twist," says Gillies of the latter. "It's made from Norwegian king crabs, which are massive and similar to lobster, with the pink peppercorns giving the whole dish a bit of a kick."
Options from the wood stone oven include a sweet onion tart with heritage tomatoes and burrata (£16); spicy tamarind chicken wings (£8); and braised pork collar, with mustard glaze (£15.50).
"The wood stove oven cost us £25,000 but it's a fantastic piece of kit," enthuses Gillies. "We use it to finish lots of dishes off and it gets so hot that it stays at 200°C overnight so it's been great for braising and slow-cooking."
Of course steaks and burgers are not to be missed from a menu like this and both the Aberdeen Angus rib-eye with beef marrowbone (£29.50) and the BSK burger (£11.50) - short rib patty topped with Bermondsey Flier cheese and served in a brioche bun - live up to City expectations.
Desserts range from light options such as pineapple carpaccio, passion fruit and orange sorbet (£7) to more seriously calorific delights like the chocolate tart, served with salted caramel ice-cream (£8.50). And then there's the yogurt machine, which makes delicious frozen yogurt in minutes, accompanied by toppings ranging from berries to gummi bears.
The comprehensive wine list stretches around the globe and offers a good selection by the glass and carafe, starting at £4.50, while the impressive wine balcony above the kitchen showcases a whopping 2,000 bottles.
BSK marks a new direction for GRH, a move towards a more casual dining experience away from the stuffy fine-dining establishments Ramsay made his name with over the past decade. With another site near Borough Market already scheduled to open next year, it seems the group has got its sights set firmly on the future.
Sample dishes from the menu
Carpaccio of octopus with capers, black olives and saffron vinaigrette £11.50 Salmon ceviche, ruby grapefruit, jalapeño, lime, coriander £10.50 Bread Street mixed cured meats, pickles, chilli £14.50
Baked Orkney scallops, treacle-cured bacon, bittercress £12.50/£18.75 Herdwick mutton pie with potato £16 Veal chop, celery, anchovy and chilli salad £24
Meatballs, tomato sauce £7.50 Suckling pig, spiced apple sauce £16 Roasted lobster, ginger, chilli, garlic £18/£27
Banana and maple upside down cake £7.50 Baked rice pudding, fruit jam £7.50 Cinnamon and ricotta fritter, custard £8
Bread Street Kitchen 10 Bread Street, London EC4M 9AB
Tel: 020 3030 4050