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Which Gordon Ramsay (London)?

Dan G Jan 26, 2009 12:36 PM

We are going to be in London for a week in May and want to try one of his places. Which is the best? Best value? Are they all really hard to get into?

I'm sure I'll have a lot more questions as the actual trip approaches...

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  1. food.snob RE: Dan G Jan 27, 2009 01:16 AM

    I was recently at Royal Hospital Road.
    It is London's only three star, but that is about the only attraction for me.
    I was not especially impressed...

    1. h
      Harters RE: Dan G Jan 27, 2009 09:14 AM

      And I was underwhelmed at the Devonshire last May.


      1. zuriga1 RE: Dan G Jan 27, 2009 10:20 AM

        I'd recommend Maze - great ambiance, service and highly unusual and delicious food. If you book early, you won't have any trouble getting a table. The chef is a highly skilled one, Jason Atherton.

        2 Replies
        1. re: zuriga1
          bvorono RE: zuriga1 Jan 28, 2009 01:26 AM

          i'll second maze (not the grill). go for the tasting. it has left a great impression, it's not pretentious, much easier to book and the sommelier aced the selections for our meal especially the desert courses which opened my mind to sweet wines.

          1. re: bvorono
            DollyDagger RE: bvorono Jan 28, 2009 03:15 AM

            Definitely agree with the recommendation for Maze.

            You could also consider Murano, which is an Italian-influenced Ramsay/Hartnett project that just got its first Michelin star. (Their other venture, the York & Albany in Camden, is good but nothing special).

        2. PhilD RE: Dan G Jan 28, 2009 05:19 AM

          I had a good Sunday lunch at Claridge's. It does the "big traditional hotel dining room" really well. The food was really enjoyable. IMO you don't go to a Ramsay restaurant for cutting edge food, but you do go for high standards and good quality, which he delivers.

          Ramsay has a lot of detractors but I think this is because he concentrates on delivering a very reliable/repeatable experience. Each of his restaurants has a different characteristic suited to different needs, so it is important to choose one that suits your purpose.

          1. j
            Just One Bite RE: Dan G Jan 28, 2009 06:32 AM

            I went to Hospital Road in December and had a wonderful experience. The service was impeccable, yet not at all stuffy. The room was beautiful. The food was wonderful and interesting. The two husbands did the full tasting menu and two wives did the regular menu. Each time there was an extra course on the tasting menu, the servers brought us little plates and forks. They knew we would all be tasting everything. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would love to return.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Just One Bite
              humblepie RE: Just One Bite Feb 22, 2009 08:08 AM

              I have to second RHR; it is a couple of years since we went wth some friends, but it remains the most outrageous dining experience I have had to date in terms of food, wine and service, and I have been to quite a few decent restaurants since. I would agree that Ramsay does have more than his fair share of detractors, certainly at the moment, but the reality is that RHR is where it all started, and is still top of the tree in London after ten years. We were made to feel beyond welcome from the second we walked in the door until we finally staggered out of the doors (in the wee hours). The focus here is on the 'experience', and once you get past the £100 + per head on food, it is an experience most are unlkely to forget. I would go for it!!

            2. tonto21 RE: Dan G Feb 22, 2009 01:56 PM

              To be honest I think there is lot better food on offer in London aside from GR, who is over the hill and a spent force in my opinion. I guess if you have to go you might aswell make it maze where Jason Atherton is the chef, GR's connection being that he finances the place.

              You'd better off heading to Marcus Wareing in the Berkley (his former business partner and best man who has now cut him self off from the GR brand and is out on his own. I had an impressive at times but not world shattering tasting menu there in January)The Square, The Ledbury or if your feeling adventurous Tom Aikens would be other options.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tonto21
                humblepie RE: tonto21 Feb 23, 2009 02:27 AM

                Whilst I do still rate RHR highly in terms of the whole experience, we were blown away by Petrus, shortly before the transition to MW @ the Berkeley - I found Wareing's style to be quite light, and ideal for a tasting menu experience, especially given the heroic bon-bon trolley to accompany coffees! Will he manage three stars eventually......?

              2. b
                batfink23 RE: Dan G Feb 23, 2009 06:16 AM

                you need to ask yourself what is it you are actually looking for?

                if you're into the TV personality and all the spin, then any of them will do.
                if you want something close to the Gordon Ramsay experience, only RHR will do.

                if you really want the best food london has to offer, then I'd recommend none of them.

                23 Replies
                1. re: batfink23
                  felizglfr RE: batfink23 Feb 23, 2009 09:21 AM

                  This is all quite unfortunate. I'm making reservations for The Fat Duck and Gordon Ramsey's RHR when my sister visits in late April. I've tried to steer her for other options (The River Cafe, Marcus Waring) but she wants both these places. I think my sister and her husband are looking for a great culinary experience when they get to London since they are celebrating their anniversary dinner as well. They are big foodies from the NYC-area and love places like Ouest, Bouley, Jean Georges and Hearth. They've been to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in NYC as well. Any other Ramsey options besides RHR just in case I don't get a reservation for her? or any other highly recommended restaurants?

                  1. re: felizglfr
                    humblepie RE: felizglfr Feb 23, 2009 11:35 PM

                    Personally, I would say go for Marcus Wareing if you cannot get a table at RHR - MW is still very much pushing for three stars and we had a fantastic meal there last year, although I am uncertain as to the current booking policy (there was no time limit on reservations when we visited, thus you could end up booking 3-4 months in advance in order to get a table on the day you want). Although I am not speaking from personal experience, the newly two-starred Alain Ducasse (@ The Dorchester) and Joel Robouchon's London L'Atelier do not appear to be living up to the hype, but that could just be down to the vagaries of the food press......Nearer to the Fat Duck than to London, there is a great one star place in Reading - L'Ortolan, that is well worth a visit.

                    1. re: humblepie
                      mr_gimlet RE: humblepie Feb 24, 2009 12:20 AM

                      Yes, but if we're into one stars there isn't much need to go outside London unless you are already there. I like L'Ortolan but that's simply because I live nearer Reading than London.

                      felizglfr, how about Hibiscus?

                    2. re: felizglfr
                      batfink23 RE: felizglfr Feb 24, 2009 01:38 AM

                      the Fat Duck is def good, RHR is over rated. MW may be looking for 3 stars, but also has no chance of getting either. RHR is likely to drop down well before MW goes up. neither is 3 stars is any other city. MW made a big point of wanting to express his creativity and how GR held him back; and he's failed dismally so far to show us anything new or different.

                      the best options are probably Ambassade d'lille - misunderstood but exquisite technical food; or Hibiscus.
                      on a good night, The Square is the best restaurant in London by some margin.

                      Aikens when he's in the kitchen is a real avante garde treat, but becomes a bit messy and poorly executed when he's not.

                      Ducasse at the Dorchester has massively improved in the last 6 months, after a terrible beginning.

                      2 others you might consider:
                      Pied a terre - they are a flair for fish, and employ powerful, bold saucing. lots of big complex flavours. a touch bouley like?
                      Corrigans - again, more big, bold flavours. not as complex, slightly more rustic.

                      if I were to recommend a ramsay establishment, and I'd only do it at gun point, maybe Maze. but whilst the food is good, there is a smugness about the front of house that is disconcerting.

                      another tip: One o One - the best seafood restaurant in london by a long, long way. sort of a mini Maison de Bricourt.

                      1. re: batfink23
                        zuriga1 RE: batfink23 Feb 24, 2009 02:46 AM

                        The One o One menu is amazing! Why don't we hear more about this place?

                        1. re: zuriga1
                          felizglfr RE: zuriga1 Feb 24, 2009 05:06 AM

                          I've been dying to try One o One. I'm hoping one day I'll be able to save my horrible wage and try their food. Or perhaps, they introduce some sort of pre-fixe meal. Anyway, I'll that place onto the list. I wouldn't normally worry about these things it's just that it's my sister and her husband's first time in London and they're huge foodies.

                          The worst part about this planning is that I'm not even invited to their really nice meal! haha

                          1. re: felizglfr
                            zuriga1 RE: felizglfr Feb 24, 2009 06:39 AM

                            >The worst part about this planning is that I'm not even invited to their really nice meal! haha<

                            I'm a sister... my brother was once an intern. What can I say? Let her make her own reservations!!

                            1. re: zuriga1
                              felizglfr RE: zuriga1 Feb 26, 2009 01:55 AM

                              I'm doing it as a favor for them since it will be their anniversary meal, hence why I'm not invited. I made reservations for The Fat Duck this morning and will try to book on for RHR tomorrow.

                              1. re: felizglfr
                                mr_gimlet RE: felizglfr Feb 26, 2009 02:24 AM

                                how far out was your FD booking?

                                1. re: mr_gimlet
                                  felizglfr RE: mr_gimlet Feb 26, 2009 05:10 AM

                                  They're doing a Sunday lunch because I convinced them that getting a reservation for that day would be easier than getting one for Saturday evening. I called to make the booking two months from today, 26 April. I hope they can take me out to lunch. There are some places I have my eye on that don't cost that much. ha

                                  1. re: felizglfr
                                    mr_gimlet RE: felizglfr Feb 26, 2009 05:44 AM

                                    actually, I really like saturday and sunday lunch at these multi-course gastrotemples, you get a long leisurely meal and still have time for a walk afterwards

                                    1. re: mr_gimlet
                                      PhilD RE: mr_gimlet Feb 26, 2009 09:28 AM

                                      Me too. I find it far easier to enjoy a long lunch than a long dinner. I get so frustrated in the UK that so few good restaurants open for lunch on Saturday, or choose to change their menu to accommodate the "roast dinner" brigade (how hard is it to roast meat and potatoes and boil veggies).
                                      If you find good venues let me know.

                                2. re: felizglfr
                                  zuriga1 RE: felizglfr Feb 26, 2009 04:16 AM

                                  I'm so glad you pulled the Fat Duck off! Now I understand why you're not included. Maybe they can take you out for a lunch. :-)

                                  1. re: felizglfr
                                    felizglfr RE: felizglfr Feb 27, 2009 01:02 AM

                                    ...and i booked RHR today. I called just a couple of minutes ago and they only had 6.30 and 9.45 open for 27 April. Isn't that crazy?

                                    1. re: felizglfr
                                      zuriga1 RE: felizglfr Feb 27, 2009 04:10 AM

                                      Maybe that's why GR can afford to go around the world fixing bad restaurants. I had the same experience this week booking a place in Lisbon for 21 April. They only had a room for one of our nights. These places are hopefully doing something right. Recession??

                                      1. re: zuriga1
                                        batfink23 RE: zuriga1 Feb 27, 2009 04:39 AM

                                        fixing bad restaurants?

                                        couple of things, he's had plenty of restaurants and gastropubs go belly up. easy when you're spending your father-inlaws money.

                                        secondly, even he and his production team have been forced to admit publicly that a notable portion of Kitchen Nightmares USA is scripted.

                                        he's a tv personality now, and good luck to him I guess. but its also something we shouldn't forget.

                                        1. re: batfink23
                                          zuriga1 RE: batfink23 Feb 27, 2009 07:22 AM

                                          I was referring to GR's programme, Kitchen Nightmares. While we find the British version a bit amusing, the American version no longer graces our screen. Talk about scripted, boring scenarios. It's the same routine week after week and so predictable that I'd laugh if it wasn't so badly done. At least in the U.S. they bleep out all the 'f' words, which I suppose says something about cultural differences.

                                          1. re: zuriga1
                                            batfink23 RE: zuriga1 Feb 27, 2009 07:30 AM

                                            yeah I can't argue his UK version is better, but you did say flying around the world lol

                                            seriously though, he's got plenty of problems in the UK with his own places. if the rumours of why Mark Sargeant has been surreptiously shunted sideways out of claridges are to believed there are a few more headlines to come.

                                            1. re: batfink23
                                              zuriga1 RE: batfink23 Feb 27, 2009 01:24 PM

                                              Can we trust a man who dyed his hair blonde? Having only lived in the UK 5 years, I had never seen GR (the before version) until tonight.

                                              Do you listen to rumours? In fact, how do you know all this inside 'poop?'

                                      2. re: felizglfr
                                        batfink23 RE: felizglfr Feb 27, 2009 04:36 AM

                                        they have a 2 sittings per night policy. they are standard timings.

                                        mind you, it is also reflective of their self importance, and low regard for the customer. :)

                                        gosh, I do sound bitter don't i?

                                  2. re: felizglfr
                                    batfink23 RE: felizglfr Feb 24, 2009 06:48 AM

                                    One o One has currently got a 50% off the ala carte offer on top table. its restricted to lunch (7 days) and early evening... but still.

                                3. re: batfink23
                                  tonto21 RE: batfink23 Feb 24, 2009 03:00 PM

                                  batfink23 in reference to tom aikens, out of interest do you know how much he is in the kitchen?

                                  i had dinner in january 2006 and we were able to go down and meet him. big fan of him though appreciate the 'hit and miss' attitude and his clearly obviously inability to run a business but dont think his ability as cook should be doubted. is he well respected in london or somewhat of a outcast?

                                  1. re: tonto21
                                    batfink23 RE: tonto21 Feb 25, 2009 03:36 AM

                                    He was rarely at the pass in the last 18 - 24 months, certainly not enough to 'plan' on. From what I have heard from various people is that his talent is very well respected, I never heard anyone speak warmly of him personally. but equally, very little was ever said of him personally, for or against - so take that to mean what you will.

                                    now, i would imagine he is enough of an outcast to probably be in the kitchen a lot more, but whether he still has access to the best suppliers is anyone's guess.

                                    his style will most probably remain unchanged, and that is an attraction in itself for some.

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