With Lucky Cat, an embattled Gordon Ramsay hopes to have Mayfair purring once more, Rasika Sittamparam
From the moment it was announced, Lucky Cat set tongues wagging. Gordon Ramsay’s new restaurant on Grosvenor Square was originally billed as an ‘authentic Asian eating house’, but after it attracted criticism that no Asian chefs were involved in creating the menu it was rebranded as an ‘Asian-inspired eating house’.
It certainly looks the part. Hundreds of handmade maneki-neko cats adorn the shelves, and there are more subtle feline details in the form of chopstick holders, hat-stands and other touches. The moodily lit space also takes inspiration from the atmospheric drinking dens of 1930s Tokyo and Shanghai. It confirms that Ramsay was right to hire Greek designer Afroditi Krassa (who told Spear’s that Heston Blumenthal once asked her to design his home – but she turned him down).
There are three parts to the restaurant: a lounge bar where bassy dance music plays, a raw bar where sushi and sashimi are crafted, and the main kitchen, where meats are noisily seared on the robata grills.
The kitchen is overseen by chef Ben Orpwood, who learnt to cut sashimi in Japan. The best thing on the menu is the skewer of whisky glazed pork belly – a tender, smoky, sweet must-try. The Burmese soft-shell crab curry with flatbread is also delicious.
On top of his revamped Mayfair presence, Ramsay has also agreed a $100 million deal with a private equity house with plans to open 100 new restaurants in the US. If that comes off too, perhaps those feline good luck charms, though bronze in colour, will prove to be worth their weight in gold.
Rasika Sittamparam is a senior researcher at Spear’s
This article first appeared in issue 70 of Spear’s magazine, available on newsstands now. Click here to buy and subscribe.