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Sep 9, 2011 04:03 PM

Gordon ruined El Greco. Can it be saved from the RIP thread?

Hounds pardon my diatribe here. El Greco had a bad business model, those of you who have gotten a 17.00 lamb gyro or a 10 dollar bowl of chicken soup know what I'm talking about. But that aside, this was really great greek food. My work crew and I probably dined for lunch there 30-50 times since it opened. Barring maybe a couple foibles a couple times, the food was consistently stellar (at least the dishes we tended to get each time). Our crew went today and were told that Ramsey came in and said the food was too authentic and completely changed the menu, way over cheesed the decor (yep, it's worse), and frankly ruined the food. Now grandmother tells us they're under contract to serve that new slop for some months, and now El Greco is just another crappy non-authentic greek fast food joint in town replete with others just like it. Apparently they were nearing closing as it was and maybe the Ramsey show gave them a little breathing room. We all must be careful what we wish for.

Remember the lemony hummus? Best I've had, and I love lemon. GONE. Now it's like a huge jar of it from some vendor. and it takes like sh@#.

Remember the Avgolemono chicken soup, those fraction of a hair thin strands of chicken swimming in there and that light lemony delicateness and richness?? gone, welcome to cambell's-ville. something more stewy and entirely canned. gross.

Remember the tender seasoned pita? Now it's crispy, dry, overly toasted stale tasting. crap.

Remember the pork you got precious little of but it was so good you may have ordered it often? Gone. No pork to be found at El Greco any longer. Brits think we hate pork or something? moronic.

Son and Grandmother said that Ramsey didn't like any of the food at his tasting. Of course he didn't, isn't that the justification for doing the show????? duh. Said it was too authentic and that americans don't like authentic. What a disingenuous git.

The solution was not to mess with what wasn't broken, the food, and fix the business model in other ways. Make service faster (maybe another one on the line?), add a few more tables, lower all prices by 30% without changing the sizes of entrees, and cut the sides' sizes in half and charge 1.99 or something like that instead of 6-10 bucks (outrageous). I guess actually solving the problems isn't good TV.

Some of you may disagree with my assessment of the food. I'm sure better Greek can be found somewhere, but not in austin. And their grilled lamb chops were always as good as any I've had, anywhere, and I got them or the lamb gyro most every time. I cannot comment on the moussaka, for example. They used the same grilled meat in their lamb gyros, not that processed lamboloney hanging from most other places' gyro turner. That's gone too, now it's more like a stewed lamb brisket sort of deal, much less flavor. sad.

Soon this place could easily close and be the next victim in the RIP thread. Here's to Grandmother and saving her restaurant. I'll have to get her name. She would sometimes give us free soup, and it felt pretty motherly, and the so good, and so so gone. insanity. just keep the great food and lower the prices for God's sake. They'll line out the door. We'd visit twice a week instead of once a month.

El Greco
3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

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  1. Ugh this definitely changes my opinion of him; I actually used to think he was a pretty smart guy.

    1. in another thread, there was some back and forth on opposing opinions of GR's abilities.
      sorry one of your fave restaurants isn't good any more.
      i've never eaten there, but agree that great greek food is hard to find in austin.
      i'm northwest and our options up here are horrid.

      why is it so hard to find basics, like skordalia and taramasalata?

      1. The Brits can keep Ramsey, maybe we can get his passport revoked?

        1. "If you're going to defend yourself the least you could do is to stick to the point. You wrote that you're not sure what qualifies Gordon Ramsay to turn around restaurants. The man operates many very well-regarded and successful restaurants around the world. Is there really anything more that need be said on the matter? " ..." Before I was only being flippant. Now, however, I'm being contentious because I take exception to your continuing effort to vilify and discredit him."

          7 Replies
          1. re: rudeboy

            I don't care for Gordn Ramsay, one way or the other. I've only had one meal at one of his restaurants and it was good, and I find some amusement in his Hell's Kitchen show.

            That being said, it's important to separate Gordan Ramsay, the chef, from Gordon Ramsay, the businessperson. Thre is no question, based on everything I've tasted and read / heard, that he is a fantastic chef. By the same token, he is pretty clearly a terrible businessperson. A simple Google search will reveal the financial duress his restaurant "empire" is currently under.

            Unfortunately, for someone looking to turnaround their restaurant, they need a businessperson as much as, if not more than a chef, and in that regard Mr. Ramsay is a poor choice.

            "well-regarded" and "successful" do not necessarily go hand-in-hand,...

            1. re: FattyDumplin

              the GR persona on the telly is quite different from the GR person in real life. he puts on his "on-air" persona when the cameras are turned on....the show is all about ratings and when he is off camera the majority have said he is a nice guy and quite helpful. Also he has become too involved in the television show at the expense of his restaurants

            2. re: rudeboy

              Respectfully, have you ever read any of the resto biz financial reports on GR's many "successful" restaurants...? While I'm a religious viewer of his many TV shows, and truly do believe that he's an accomplished chef, when you read about how poorly many of his establishments around the world do financially, well...makes me wonder...Check it out...

              1. re: stellawine

                those that fail mostly are because they were deep in debt due to back taxes or back rent before they finally gave up and called GR couldn't be saved no matter how much help he gave them. the Joe guy who committed suicide for example was on cocaine and having an affair with one of his waitresses so despite GR saving his restaurant he went off the deep end.

                1. re: iowastate

                  this refers to restaurants that are actually owned by GR, not ones he helps

                2. re: stellawine

                  He has a 130 million dollar net worth? I can't believe the TV shows generate a majority of his net worth. Maybe the books are cooked, no pun intended?

                  1. re: theobear66

                    It's rude to imply any financial wrongdoing. Gordon Ramsay has more integrity than that. He earned his fortune honestly through hard work!

              2. My question is: where is the restaurant situated? In a Greek neighborhood or an Americanized one? If it's the latter then Gordon Ramsay may have made the right call. How many Chinese restaurants are successful because they dumb down their menu for Yanks? Quite a few. We should all address the duck tongues in the room and admit that a lot of Americans only want to know the bastardized versions of ethnic food. Even in Quebec City the slop joints on rue, St Louis had more turnover (the customers being American & Asian tourists) than the more superior French joints down the road.