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In Photos: Opening Night at Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood

The soft opening of the new Gordon Ramsay was this Tuesday night. And it was definitely soft. Ramsay wasn't there; the Hell's Kitchen winner wasn't there; no media either. In fact, there weren't even that many customers. The restaurant was less than half full when we arrived at 8:00p, and it looked like they only wanted to turn around each table once for the night.

A note on Hell's Kitchen: The winner was supposed to get an executive chef's position at the restaurant, but from what we were told, it's going to be more like a sous chef position. We were told that "he" hadn't started yet, so does that mean the winner will be male?

The Chef's Menu in brief:

1: Pacific yellow fin tuna with pickled daikon, crab beignets, sesame soy dressing
2: Burrata mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes, cape gooseberries, basil pesto
3: Hand-dived sea scallops, cauliflower purée and sherry vinegar reduction
4a: Pan-fried Arctic char with orzo, pickled Japanese mushrooms and dashi
4b: Beef filet and Kobe short rib, cipollini onion, baby beets
5: Confit Meyer lemon and basil gelée, sablé Breton and olive oil gelato
6: Pineapple soufflé with Thai curry ice cream, toasted coconut

One thing to note was that each dish was extremely small, so we had to supplement with eight additional courses. This was between two people, so we each had the equivalent of 10 courses. Our server recommended 3-4 courses per person; perhaps the WeHo crowd would be satisfied by that amount, but there's no way my dining companion or I would be (and I'm not a big guy at 5'9"/165lb). The extra courses:

S1: Apple-cured duck breast and crispy tongue, foie gras with amaranth
S2: Wild asparagus risotto with chive flowers
S3: Swordfish carpaccio with heart of palm, grapefruit and yuzu vinaigrette
S4: Cassoulet of seafood, king prawn tortellini and garbanzo beans
S5: Smoked pork belly with roasted Scottish langoustine, celeriac and apple
S6: Monkfish with crispy chicken skin, lemon thyme consommé
S7: Cheese plate
S8: Crème Fraîche panna cotta with strawberry gelée, acacia honey and thyme crumble

Overall, though I did have a good time and liked much of the food, I think the Gordon Ramsay at The London needs to improve. The dishes for the most part were not up to Michelin-starred levels, and I think that the restaurant is perhaps catering to the "wrong" crowd, trying to be hip rather than good. Unlike the Gordon Ramsays in London or NY, it just didn't seem like a serious fine dining restaurant.

Was anyone else there? Thoughts?

Full report with photos: http://www.kevineats.com/2008/05/gord...

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  1. I think that I'd even have to downgrade London from your mediocre evaluation. But let me be tart and to the point. The food was unremarkable - though it was hard to even really get a good taste because the portions were so small. The design of the menu was confusing, also.

    The service, while well-intentioned, was still very rough - missed orders and billing issues.

    The decor was simply in bad taste and the "pleather" seats guarantee that you're going to get up from your meal with a sweaty butt. Actually, I don't know whether the seats were leather or plastic but either way, but it's the same difference.

    1. Thanks for the post and pics, I'll be there in a couple of weeks. I have both the dinner menu they sent to me initially and also the soft opening menu, they're slightly different. I was surprised about the pricing, thought it'd be higher. Not that I want to pay more for food, just surprised, pleasantly surprised.
      The people who answer the phone need to be schooled a little more. The second time I called I got what sounded like a 20-something who had no idea what he was doing. So now I'll have to call back since I didn't trust what he told me, plus I couldn't understand what he was trying to blurt out.
      How much were the cocktails? Also did many people ask to tour the kitchen?

      11 Replies
      1. re: slacker

        Just so those of us not on the "in with Gordon" list want to know, what are the prices like?

        1. re: Diana

          On the menu looked like 10 bucks for dessert, 65 or 85 for the chef's menu

          1. re: Diana

            Diana, follow the link that kevin h provided. He has a picture of the menus with pricing.

            1. re: love2eat

              I ate there last night and had the chef's menu. I will write a review, on my blog at least soon.

            2. re: Diana

              6-course tm = $85.
              a la carte = $14-$22
              market specials = $12 (app size) - $28 (entree size)
              dessert = $10

              1. re: slacker

                Well now, that's pretty reasonable if the food is high quality!

                1. re: Diana

                  Ah, but the portions are small!

            3. re: slacker

              Hopefully they'll get their act together by the time you go. I thought the pricing would be higher on an absolute scale. But if you take into account the size of the portions, prices are high!

              The cocktails were $12 each. As for the kitchen, I believe we were the only ones.

              1. re: kevin h

                Thanks. And right, you did talk about the microscopic portions. I was told that for parties of 7 or less, not everyone at the table has to get the tm if one person wants to do it. So that will be good, since I think some of my friends want the tm, but I'm not so sure that I do.

                1. re: kevin h

                  Most cocktails in the cocktail list are $17.00

                  1. re: melangeinc

                    Yikes!! I thought the $14 cocktails at Comme Ca are high.

              2. Haven't been yet, but thank you for a thorough report and great pictures. I felt like I was there with you!

                1. Well i was in there tonight and i have to honest that the service was a little shakey, however the food was pretty f___king good. my wife and i decided to take the a la carte having about 5 courses in total including desert, as we are both a little on the greedy side when i comes to food, and every thing was very tasty. one thing of perticular note was the pigs head with english peas, unbeleivable!!! really one to put them on the map.
                  I've been to most restaurants of note in LA and generally i'm very disapointed. yeah there are some good places which are well designed but the kitchen is usually staffed by what might as well be the team from hells kitchen. i was at katsuya last week and the food was pittyfull, really for a place thats supposed to be one of the hot spots of LA it really sucked food wise, service average but every one looking very lovely, this gets a bit boring after awhile doesn't any one else think so?
                  As regards to you saying that the dishes are not michelin standard, i completely disagree I've been to some one stars in this town and they really do not deserve the stars that they received last year.
                  i think it's obvious that it's not like the restaurant he has in London or NY, but do you really think that fine dinning suits LA???

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: bobb bob bob

                    I definitely think there's a place for fine dining in LA, but perhaps with a twist vis-à-vis similar East Coast establishments. For example, I think Providence, which many think deserves over one Michelin star, is on the right track. The mere name "Gordon Ramsay" leads one to have a certain expectation of the quality of dining involved, and I don't think that expectation is being met now.

                    You bring up a good point with Katsuya. I think the original Studio City location is solid, but I've heard many mixed reviews about the Hollywood restaurant, which appears to be more about the scene than the food. I'm just afraid Gordon Ramsay will fall into the same trap.

                    1. re: kevin h

                      kevin -- big fan of your reviews but you were way off the mark on this one-- please focus on the food instead of getting signed menus.

                      my review:

                      1. re: radman123

                        I'm not sure I understand your comment. I just read your review and we're on the same page here: portions are tiny, the food a letdown, and the experience not at the level it should be.

                        1. re: kevin h

                          you're probably right - i may have been a little grumpy -- since I was still STARVED from eating at Ramsays

                  2. Walked in around 9:30 last night and was able to procure a table..
                    Kevin H post is on the money for the most part.
                    I wish we would have had your server, our server STRONGLY recommended we order at least 8 dishes for each of us (total of 24), being it was our first visit we felt he was the expert so we followed his advice...SHAME ON US..3 hours and approximately $700 (including spirits, 3 per person) dollars later we felt exhausted
                    and duped. Courses flowed too slowly and many dishes tasted similar.
                    Overall most of the items were tasty and I don't have a problem with the decor (it works for a WEHO outpost).
                    I will return but now know better, the tasting menu is the way to go.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sirrhw

                      I think 8 courses actually isn't too far off the mark, since I had the equivalent of 10 and still wasn't full. Price-wise, it certainly does add up though!

                      As for the chef's menu, unfortunately it merely consisted of items from the a la carte selection. This needs to change.

                    2. Radman, Sirrhw - I am not sure if we ate at the same restaurant, but our experience tonight (night 6, Sunday) could not have been more different. It was fantastic.
                      I have eaten at 2 of his London places, and several times at the NYC restaurant. And looking at the comments on Chowhound, were a bit worried about LA.

                      The service was impeccable, fun, friendly and absolutely timely. The explanations and recommendations were great. We ordered 9 dishes of the menu (not the prix fix) and loved most of it. Some were a bit boring (Yellowtail), some were just very good (Trout - same as in his NYC place), but some were best-of-in-LA for sure: The Pig's Head (!) was wonderful. So was the Pork Belly and Duck (crispy tongue, fois gras mousse), and the Tart Tatin at the end, while sounding boring, will never make us look at this venerable desert again.
                      IT was pricy in the end, but the drinks are far less than in London or NYC, and the food, in my opinion, was worth it. Yes, the portions are small, but depending on which 'part' of the menu they come from, they vary in richness. We ate too much and 9 dishes (plus desert) was way to much. In fact, if Pork Belly and Pig's Head (or the veal sweetbreads) are part of your line up, even 8 (that was for us, 4 each) is a challenge!
                      In the end, we were offered a tour of the kitchen (didn't ask for it!) and met the chef (a guy who in fact I knew; he has opened many of Gordon's places, including Tokyo at the Conrad), and pastry chef. Apparently, they are all imported from the UK (servers and front of desk included).

                      Was it the best dining experience ever? No. But it was fantastic food and great service - especially as there are so many disapointments in LA lately. Maybe we were lucky, but again, we have an experience that definetely has us coming back soon.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: dosers

                        What a relief to hear this. So the two of you shared 9 dishes? 4.5 each?

                        The people who answer the phone are definitely not UK imports.

                        1. re: slacker

                          We went to the first full day of service and had dinner. Food sounded great off the menu until we got the servings and they were, as mentioned, TINY. I got a yellowtail first course that I could have got twice as much, and deliciously so, for $10 at my fave sushi joint. Worse, it came with Crab 'beignets' which - I am not joking - were THE SIZE OF DIMES. It was comical. I'm sorry, that's NOT a beignet - well, at least the term beignet elicited slightly larger (say, quarter sized) expectations.

                          They forgot my husband's 3rd course (Thank god - the prices were adding up fast and furious considering the portion size, even for fine dining) and over-charged our two companions (split the bill three ways) by $30 each. Very little apology for both issues.

                          I get it, it's a soft opening, so what really matters is the food. And here, it tastes good-to-excellent in fits and starts, but the ridiculous portion sizes verge on the insulting.

                          We loved the sommelier and got a very decently priced, delicious bottle of malbec. That was the high point of the evening. Also I liked the decor, though some of my companions thought it was a bit much.

                          1. re: slacker

                            Oh, no doubt, the phones are subpar - pretty clueless without any character and frankly, a disappoitnment. But, again, once we got there, all was well from the front desk (manned by 2 girls, clearly british), to the service (a girl who was just great, and also an brit import). Maybe it helps to go with the Brits for those that say they had bad service?!

                            Oh, and yes, we had 4.5 per person. Don't get me wrong, we won't do that again as we were STUFFED to the gills. But, hey, we wanted to try it all.
                            I DID think the yellowtail dish was boring. Not bad at all - just boring. Again, the rest we had: wow.

                            To the poster about the beignets - I thought they were terrific! I mean, if you expect donut size doughs, sure, you'll be disaponted. But the little morsels were concentrated flavour explosions and any bigger would have overpowered the other parts on the plate.
                            I think the bigger problem is that portions in America have become so outragous that once you see a small plate it's a bit of a shock.

                            I though they were brilliant though. And, our service told us off the bat they do 'tapas size' plates. Which is to say, even at the size they were at, the Pig's Head and Pork Belly combine to something so rich, hardly one more course is required (!) while some other lighter options call for a few more.

                            For what it's worth, we are going back tonight :)


                            1. re: dosers

                              "I think the bigger problem is that portions in America have become so outragous that once you see a small plate it's a bit of a shock."

                              The people of CH are not frequenting Applebees in the midwest somewhere. We're diners of L.A., home to some of the best sushi, if not *the* best, in the U.S. We're used to small portions. I've eaten outside the U.S. and our portions in middle-class restaurants are just fine. If someone makes the observation that they left hungry after a tasting menu, then obviously there is a problem. You won't find many posts saying the same thing about Providence or Spago or the French Laundry, restaurants which have thus far garnered far better reviews than Ramsay's.

                              1. re: fooddude37

                                Not sure if this is the right place to post, but we had the 3 course lunch and it was plenty of food. I think those speaking about the American plate have it correct. We're used to eating far more than we should and get cranky when we don't have to undo the top button of our pants when we finish.

                                As for my experience, perhaps by the time we got there the wrinkles had been worked out, but my wife and I both thought the service was very nice. Comfortable and casual, yet very professional. Loved the decor and am pretty sure its real leather. Food was great. Burrata mozzarella was terrific and the pineapple souffle was unbelievable. The best I've ever had? No, but far better than most and certainly at the top of the scale at this price point.

                                $35.00++ is an expensive lunch, but for the quality of the experience, I felt it was well worth the money.

                                1. re: OscaroGrouch

                                  nIce to hear some good things as I am going Sat. evening.

                        2. We drove 5 hours to go to the opening of Gordon Ramsay's restaurant on May 27th. We were the first to enter, seated and served. I must say it was the most amazing restaurants I, and my friend ever went to. My friend even said it was one of the best nights of her life. Probably for us it was so wonderful because we had NEVER been to such an incredible restaurant We were very appreciative of everything the service, food and the atmosphere.
                          To start out with the service, I felt the people were very down to earth. They weren't snobby or arrogant. Who wants to go to a restaurant where a bunch of service people are rude? I am sorry that is not for us. You want someone who is going to make your experience enjoyable. They were really easy to talk to, very relaxed and helpful there . Yes, they did do some mistakes but for gosh sakes ask yourself, are you perfect??? The were so great to us they invited us to tour the kitchen and we met the top chefs.
                          The food. I hear so many complaints about it being small. I think the whole point of the restaurant is to have an incredible meal but not a huge meal. Personally, it was the best food I have ever eaten in my life, in a restaurant. Yes, you can say we do not have experience in any "high end" restaurant but I do know when food is good and when it is not. That was some delicous food! The scallops were the best ever!!! I applaud the chefs. The combination of flavors were in perfect sync.
                          The atmosphere, I thought, was incredible. The music was wonderful, the whole interior design was so mellow and relaxing to the eyes.
                          Overall, I believe this wasn't just a restaurant. It is supposed to be an experience that touches all of the senses, heightens the senses to the ultimate experience and for my friend and I it definitely did that. Everyone of our senses were touched in the most incredible way. I have never in my life spent so much money on a dinner but that 3 1/2 hour experience will stay with me for the rest of my life and I thank everyone at the restaurant for giving us such an incredible experience.
                          I would recommend this restaurant to anyone, especially to the people who think they can never step into a high class restaurant. This restaurant will treat anyone, whatever background or economic status with the highest respect.

                          1. I went, I ate, I'm full!! The portions are not tiny, at least not from the a la carte menu. I had 3.5 dishes (one was shared), plus dessert, and I'm full. Any more than that would have been too much. Everyone at my table, including the men, were full.

                            I had the pea soup, pork belly (the singular piece of langoustine was way undercooked), black cod, and half the pig's head. Six of us shared six desserts. The food was good, solid.

                            I waited for my party at the bar and had to try one of those overpriced cocktails, got the pineapple mojito for $16. Muddled fresh pineapple, it was good, but not $16 good. Also had a need to try the uni nigiri. The price listed was $6, then I found out it was ONE piece of sushi. wtf. I got it anyway. It was very good uni, the rice was good. But $6 for one uni. Come on.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: slacker

                              I went last night, and I was stuffed. We each ordered 3-4 dishes and shared the desserts. As slacker stated the portion sizes from the a-la carte menu were not tiny.

                              My meal was excellent. I had the wild aspargus risotto, the cassoulet, and the kobe beef and short rib. I loved the risotto and cassoulet, and the beef was good but not amazing like the two other dishes. The dessert I enjoyed the most was the special apple tartin. That was like heaven on earth to me. I would go back just for that dessert.

                              I did have a chance to taste several of other dishes, and some were really good and well executed (the pea soup, omg!) and others like the veal were blah.

                              Overall, I had a good experience and I am likely to return one day.

                              1. re: Amy Amy

                                For those who haven't been yet, some of the discrepancies with regard to the number of dishes to order probably has to do with the fact that the ala carte menu is broken up into three price categories (I believe $14, $18, $22) with the more expensive dishes being larger/more hearty. 4-5 of the smallest plates would definitely not be enough food, but 4-5 of the largest plates might be. We shared 2 dishes from each price category plus a "Market Special" and were very satisfied. With an $85 bottle of wine and two pricey cocktails we got out of there for around $300.

                            2. My husband and I dined at the WeHo Ramsays during the opening week (they're our neighbors, and we just had to see what the place looked like from the inside). As many others have said, the overall experience was uneven at best. The wait staff, trying to do their best to impersonate proper formal staff, were just the usual overactive model-waiters I expect at all the trendy spots in town. And the decor reminiscent of "The Prisoner" more than anything else; I wouldn't recommend it as somewhere to go for a relaxing evening.

                              All other factors aside, the food was delicious where it bothered to be. And by this I mean that the menu DID look like it was pulled straight from an episode of "Hell's Kitchen." The apps were mostly nothing special, though the Kobe shortrib and poussin were lovely. Desserts were also excellent, even if the waiter nearly sent me into a narcoleptic fit trying to explain it all. The portions are indeed small. The hubby and I sucked down two apps, four mains, and two desserts and had plenty of room to spare.

                              We'll go back to try the place over the summer once the staff have settled into their groove, but for now, my fine dining restaurant of choice in WeHo remains La Boheme.

                              1. my oh my, I can't belive that the portion of food was small. I am a true Hell Kitchen fan and i am deeply upset. I guess what you see on tv is not the same in the real world.

                                1. What can anyone tell me about the wine list? How extensive is it? Is it fairly predictable, or will I find some things off the beaten path?

                                  I'd love an estimate on the number of bottles on the list (or even the number of pages!) and a high/low range for price.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: slimkid

                                    The wine list was surprisingly low-priced and accessible. See here: http://www.gordonramsay.com/gratthelo...

                                  2. has anyone been to afternoon tea? i'm curious.

                                    1. I went there recently and feel that they have definitely ironed out most of their kinks. A few minor mistakes were made but rectified immediately, my desert took too long and they brought free generous glasses of desert wine. When dessert arrived it was not what I had expected, and when I returned it they brought out a plate of truffles to replace it.

                                      My husband had the three course lunch, which was plenty of food, even for him. I only ended up eating two courses, plus the truffles, and couldn't have comfortably eaten more. Has anyone been to dinner recently?

                                      1. Hey Kevin. As usual, thanks for the rockin' review. We've debating between here, Palatte, and Cut. Gives me something to chew on . . .

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: brekkie_fan

                                          Palate would probably be more interesting and I like the concept, but at the same time, CUT can't be beat if you're looking for steak. I've been to CUT three times (once in Vegas), so I'd do Palate myself.

                                          1. re: kevin h

                                            I have been to the london twice, we drive about two hours from San Diego and the food is well worth the drive.
                                            Fine dining at its best, service is amazing. We were given a tour of the kitchen, met Christina (winner of Hell's kitchen). The place is fabulous, the food is amazing, I was shocked to read some of the reviews on here.
                                            Portions are small but it is fine dining and the food is devine, this isnt an all you can eat buffet but a one of a kind experience. We celebrated my mother's birthday here and everyone fell in love with this place!

                                            1. re: ldietrich

                                              I recently took my girlfriend and her Mother to dinner as her Mother's Christmas present (drove up from San Diego as well.) I was debating based on some of the posts but was not let down. Friendly, professional service and wonderful food. Portions were fine for a tasting menu. I would put the experience just behind L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Our bill was $600 for three of us with wine which was about the same for two of us at L'Atelier. On a side note CUT is responsible for the best Steak I have had the pleasure of eating. (the pretzel bread and side dishes were great as well.)

                                        2. We had lunch at the Gordon Ramsay at West Hollywood today. When we walked in and there were only two other occupied tables we should probably have known...... This was a place that would not take my booking over the Internet without a credit card to guarantee the reservation.

                                          The food was unmemorable to say the least. I think Gordon Ramsay is all about the hype. Smoke and mirrors.

                                          1. Overall the food was superb and I could tell that food was treated with special attention and detail. The girl that I was dating was vegetarian and the head chef went out of his way to prepare a vegetarian course for her! I had the the roasted quail and risotto with truffles, it was heaven in my mouth. I do agree with some of the other bloggers, menu was very confusing and was more directed toward heavy food enthusiasts who know their "foody" language. Although I had a 4 course dinner, I was nowhere near full at the end. Portions were extremely small and you can finish one whole dish in about 4 bites. Service was excellent, and atmosphere was outmost elegant and classy. You definitelly need a good sized wallet to eat here!

                                            Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood
                                            1020 N. San Vicente Rd, West Hollywood, CA 90069