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Foxtrot Oscar, 79 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 | townfood - recipes, restaurant reviews and food news

Foxtrot Oscar, 79 Royal Hospital Road, SW3

Just a few doors down from Ramsay’s flagship three Michelin star restaurant on Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea is Gordon Ramsay ‘light’, also known as Foxtrot Oscar. This is a more accessible restaurant than its neighbour, both in terms of price and atmosphere.

Foxtrot Oscar has been in business since 1980 and Ramsay only took it over in 2008. Its reviews in early Ramsay days weren’t too positive, critics complained of an old-fashioned menu and fussy service for what was supposed to be a relaxed local bistro. The décor also got a bit of a bashing when it opened after its Ramsay re-vamp. All this being said, we weren’t sure what to expect of our experience.

It is a surprisingly small restaurant, maybe seating 30 covers on the ground floor when full. The décor is relaxed with framed black and white photographs, wooden tables and black banquettes and seats. Altogether not too memorable, but certainly pleasant and informal.

As we were eating early we were given an early-beard set menu, and the a la carte offering as well ‘in case we were tempted’. I was pleased not to see the prawn cocktail that so many reviews had slammed in its early days, and thought in general it was an appealing selection. We started off with potted salt beef and Dorset crab on toast. The temptation had worked – the crab was not part of the menu deal. We ordered wine by the glass and thought it a nice touch that they came to the table with the bottle and poured the glass in front of us.

The starters were very tasty. Both white and brown crab meat topped the toast, meaning it was packed full of flavour. The potted salt beef was actually not as flavoursome, but a twist of black pepper and a cornichon with each bite made up for this.

While we were finishing off our starters we noticed that the next door table had finished their main course a long time ago, but the plates were still sitting in front of them. They must have sat there for at least 20 minutes before they were cleared. We then realised that we were going to be in for a bit of a wait.

After about 25 minutes we politely asked our waitress where our food was, who replied that we were next. The front of house manager then came over and apologised again, very sincerely, so our annoyance was abated for a while. By this stage, we had worked our way through our wine. We had ordered glasses for a reason, we didn’t want to get a bottle and hoped to be able to eek out a glass over two courses, but the long wait forced us to order more. The wine came very quickly, but we had to ask three times for our water to be topped up.

When our main courses did finally arrive, they were delicious. We had duck leg with beetroot chutney and salmon with capers and brown shrimp. The duck fell off the bone perfectly and the beetroot chutney added a sweet and earthy flavour. The salmon was well cooked and topped with a salty mixture of capers and tiny shrimp. Waxy new potatoes accompanied the salmon and they were delicious with the lemon butter sauce.

Anyone who watched Ramsay’s Best Restaurants will know that he is very keen on a restaurant’s manager accepting when things have gone wrong and making every effort to put it right. The front of house manager at Foxtrot Oscar carried this out impeccably. To make up for the delay between courses, we were offered pudding or a drink on the house. We were grateful for the offer but were perfectly replete after our two courses so declined. When the bill came, the manager produced two shot glasses full of cheesecake as a parting gift – a clever tactic to ensure that two happy customers left the restaurant, and memories of long waits and empty glasses were clouded by sweet vanilla and strawberry creaminess.

foxtrot oscard