Several people have been puzzled as to why Gordon Ramsay could sense pressed to open a gargantuan, Japanese-ish eating place, his first venture of this genre, and area it in Mayfair, the most prohibitively costly place of London. Of a Friday evening in July, soon after Lucky Cat’s many dozen welcoming Maneki-Neko felines started waggling their paws on the walls, I scanned his new undertaking’s heaving room and thought, “Ah, yes, this all makes ideal feel.”
My teensy plate of prawn toast had just arrived: 4 circular, 50p-sized lumps of prawn toast laced with sesame kimchi for eight quid. A white geisha – vodka, sake syrup, yuzu – arrives with its frothy egg white embossed rather eerily with an ornate, electric-blue geisha’s face a good way to now not dissolve irrespective of how tough one slurps. Around me, a buoyant crowd – a mix of moneyed visitor couples, commercial enterprise dinners and unique-occasion events – are flinging money quit fist at single duck legs caked in bonito and served with a bao bun (which is northern Chinese).
Ramsay’s name remains as tantalizing because it changed into, for instance, in 2004, when he changed into attaining height shouty-guy and screaming into Edwina Currie’s face on ITV. In fact, no – Ramsay is a one-of-a-kind degree of magnetic now. He is a Wolfgang Puck in Las Vegas draw, in that diners who may consume out best once a 12 months, perhaps on vacation, will stumble inside in a zombie-like fugue, pointed there by using the lodge concierge, towards a call they’ve visible at the telly, before being cajoled into spending , three, perhaps four hundred pounds on teeth-chatteringly sweet saikyo miso black cod and bowls of unremarkable steamed rice.
Ramsay was no longer on the stoves inside the vast open kitchen, close to a variety of open-plan “personal dining” areas that aren’t remotely private. Neither is his call or photograph everywhere. In many ways, though, his paintings changed into already done: Ramsay’s celebrity energy assured the type of pre-buzz required to finance a hulking, appropriate, sexily lit, mock-1930s Tokyo consuming club with marble-trimmed bars, bronze-flecked bamboo panelling and jewel-field tiled floors.
And did I mention the cats? The waving cats? Always waving. Waving good-bye to Friday night as you order a sixteen-quid negroni and peruse the exceedingly small, double-sided cardboard, pan-Asian menu. Waving good-bye to subsequent month’s loan payment as you be aware that the duck leg – albeit delicious, sticky, crunchy, fatty and served with cucumber and a 1/2-decent pillowy bao – is £27.
At these fees, the entirety have to be tremendous, which it very a lot is not. Service is chaotic. There are greater staff at the ground, swaying and mouthing nonsense, than on the final quantity of Live Aid in 1985. Dishes you didn’t order seem on the table, and when you call the server back for greater data, they’re either as confused as you’re, or make up some other name for them.
Four slices of bland, flabby “smoked short rib” turn up with some daikon, yuzu pickle and chilli oil for £17. “Um, excuse me. We can’t workout what this is,” I say. “It’s the pastrami … I think,” says a waiter, walking away. Monkfish cheek katsu with a dipping bowl of wasabi and seaweed “emulsion” is fiercely fishy and semi-inedible, like overcooked pub scampi, and a protracted plate of tuna tataki comes swimming in wakame oil and residence soy.
This isn’t even the high-quality kind-of-Japanese meals being served inside a mile radius: there are extra scrumptious matters rolling across the conveyer belt on the Yo Sushi! On close by Woodstock Street, however then, in case you’d asked the 12-strong table of delightfully dressed-up women – mini frocks, moisturized legs, masses of hair – who have been out celebrating their friend’s 21st whether or not they’d rather be in a chain eating place with riff-raff or having the time in their lifestyles at the recent, new Gordon Ramsay place, they’d absolute confidence study you as if you had been daft.
Pudding is a pineappley spin on rum baba, known as a “yum baba” (cough) and served with coconut-primarily based cream. It feels microwaved: chewy and warm in a few locations, in others now not.
By this factor, I felt I’d given matters a virtually accurate shot. However, a weird experience of client’s regret constantly sweeps over me during dinners consisting of this, particularly as you may see the invoice mount up. Also, Lucky Cat doesn’t need me. My emotions will make no distinction to its target audience. Ten clean planeloads of enterprise-elegance passengers could have touched down at Heathrow at the same time as you’ve been reading this. They are all feeling fortunate about dinner this night. And they’ll be greeted with a massive wave.
• Lucky Cat 10 Grosvenor Square, London W1, 020-7107 0000. Open all week, lunch midday-2.45pm, dinner five.30-10.45pm. From approximately £60 a head à los angeles carte, set lunch £36 for 3 guides, chef’s menu £sixty five or £eighty; all plus liquids and carrier.