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Gordon Ramsay at Powerscourt


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The prices look good, certainly compared with Guilbaud's.

Starters range from €17 - €25 and main courses are around the €40 mark. Two RHR signature dishes on the menu: lobster ravioli and monkfish with prosciutto.

No Friday or Saturday bookings for non-residents until the new year, which is a bit of a pain.

Some earlier discussion on Gordon Ramsay coming to Ireland here.

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No Friday or Saturday bookings for non-residents until the new year, which is a bit of a pain.

And possibly not even then, reading between the lines. I asked was that the policy for ever and ever amen, and got the response that it was definitely in place until at least the New Year, but who knows from then.

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There are 20 tables, 120 covers, plus a private dining room, chef’s table and the terrace in the summer.

However, there are 200 rooms in the hotel, and there aren’t too many places to eat in the Enniskerry area (apart from the other restaurants in the hotel, no idea what they’re like), so yeah, it’s not looking good for punters at the weekend. Top restaurants in London and NY generally have a private number for the do-you-know-who-I-am?’s… it would be interesting to ask all diners for proof of residence at the weekends.

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Well, Ramsay is in town to officially open his restaurant at Powerscourt, Enniskerry. There was a photocall this morning and he took a few questions from the press. He was totally on message and loving everyone. Oozes charisma, as you'd expect. Marco Pierre White opening in Dublin? Oh yes, he smiled, he sends Marco and Frankie Dettori his very best wishes. A pizza place isn’t it? he commented and went on to say that he thinks they have a pizza on the room service menu at the hotel. And yes, he is managing the room service for the Ritz Carlton, so obviously a deal can be struck when it comes to taking on the whole kit and caboodle.

He has no plans to open another restaurant in Dublin yet, he wants to get this one squared away first. This, apparently is the Dublin restaurant (even if it is in Co Wicklow... the Michael O’Leary school of geography). But he may look at the possibility of a pub in Cork.

And no he hasn’t been to any of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Dublin, and hadn’t a bad word to say about any of them. He was all charm and bonhomie. What a shame, it was so much more fun when he was slagging off Guilbaud’s. He was looking very fit too, as was his gorgeous wife Tana who posed for a few of the pics.

He did a piece to camera in the kitchen for the ‘People in Need’ event this weekend and is going to be a guest on Seoige and O’Sea on RTE today. He’ll be out at the restaurant tomorrow in case anyone wants to go and do a bit of Ramsay spotting.

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And a few pictures:

gallery_29775_5318_2049.jpg

The outside terrace of the restaurant which has views out to the Sugarloaf Mountain, although it's slightly marred by the JCBs finishing off the landscaping at the moment.

gallery_29775_5318_310354.jpg

Gordo cracks open the champagne

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I'm quite excited about this venture and hope it can help raise the bar at the top end of the Irish restaurant scene.

If it is successful then hopefully it will attract other 3* heavy hitters to Ireland because I feel that there is a market here for restaurants of the highest quality.

With one or two notable exceptions, we do not have restauarants of the calibre of Ramsey's in Ireland and I think it's a shame that people who like to experience restaurants of that standard have to hop on plane to the UK or Paris etc.

Mind you, having tried to get a reservation it appears that it will be mid 2015 by the time non residents get to eat there!

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I think they made a bit of a dogs dinner of the bookings process.

At the launch Ramses said: “The response has been amazing. Within opening, 48 hours, we had 3,000 calls.” But reservations were being taken way before that with all sorts of mixed messages. It was like elBulli without the organisation. Requests were showered in for specific dates or left open for any Friday or Saturday in October or November. You have to pick a date, said one woman who called back, you can’t leave it open; followed a week later by, sorry you can only get a dinner booking on Friday or Saturday if you are a resident, are you going to be staying at the hotel? (no pressure!).

I asked Ramsay about the Friday and Saturday booking policy at elRamsi and he said that he had restricted the bookings personally to retain quality. It’s not the numbers I explained; it’s the residents vs day-trippers issue. “We can’t deal with the residents and the locals at the same time because it’s going to be an up and down seesaw,” he said. “I’ve got to get consistent. We‘ll restrict it to in-house guests first to get over the rocky period.” Difficult to know if this is good or bad news. But if “consistency” is what he’s looking for, it’s very strange, because it’s not completely restricted, ie day-trippers can get a booking from Sunday to Thursday. In any case, he assured me that there will be no restrictions in the new year and the great unwashed will be able to book a Friday or Saturday. Worth putting this to the test and giving them a call.

When asked about his pricing, he made a compelling analogy: “I bought a pair of jeans at LA airport for $350 dollars. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you want the best of the best, you have to pay for it.” Now we understand. They’re Rock Republic jeans, in case you’re interested, not sure if they have a no jeans policy in ‘Dublin’.

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Well the reviews are starting to come in.

Thumbs up from Aingeala Flannery and Paolo Tullio (although, despite the fact that he gives it 5* for food, reading between the lines it sounds like he’s not totally smitten and it’s not his thing).

So, to conclude, good food, good service, plush surroundings and fine views are on offer along with a highly priced wine list and menu. Truth is, you can dine at this level elsewhere and pay a deal less, but you won’t get the views.

Lucinda O’Sullivan in the Sunday Indo is less impressed. She wasn’t bowled over by the sweetbreads (neither was I) and basically gave the food a ho hum rating.

We felt there was nothing particularly sharp or impressive, or indeed beyond what one could expect in any modern restaurant. The real F-word – the food – needs an added X Factor.

Which was exactly my take on it, and considering how dreadfully wrong everything went the evening I was there, it’s about the most positive thing I can say. Extremely disappointing. Perfect candidate for Kitchen Nightmares. Will post in Jan after my review has run.

And the more I think about the hotel, buried in a bunker in one of the most scenic spots of Wicklow, the more bizarre it seems. Dazzling white, it is ‘Palladian ‘ at the back, but to the front, with large arched windows, balustraded balconies and an arched canopy at the entrance, all that’s missing are a few gold Rolls Royces. A desert in the middle of an oasis.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Tom Doorley is not a bit impressed with Ramsay’s new Wicklow restaurant in the Irish Times… “it’s not up to snuff”.

Four of us ate there on a Thursday evening when the restaurant was half-full. I later learned that two of the best front-of-house people were off, which may have explained the rudderless feel to the operation of the dining room, but the prices, as you might expect, remained the same.

The best front-of-house people were obviously off the night we went too, but to add to our misery, so too was the head chef. Although from Doorley's description of the food, it sounds like it may have made little difference.

However, I should balance all of this against the fact that the people we dined with (the gastronomes), sent a letter to Ramsay Inc. It took about 3 weeks to hear back, it was handled extremely well and their feedback was genuinely welcomed.

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Just to buck the trend a little, myself and three guests had an excellent lunch there last week. Food was definitely two star but service, whilst friendly and efficient in parts, needs more work.

We started with an amuse of langoustines with a light nage and osietra caviar. So far so very good. The set lunch offereing of two courses for Eur30 looks great value but we chose from the a la carte. Starters average Eur25 and main courses Eur45.

I started with veal sweetbreads seared to a nice crust on the outside and perfectly melting in texture in the centre. Served with some simple reduced veal stock, black truffles and shaved vegetables, this was a perfectly executed dish with just the right balance of light and rich that great cooking should have. My guests had the lobster and salmon ravioli, foie gras and smoked goose terrine, and king crab salad. All declared excellent, although I must admit to making exactly the same comment as Tom Doorley about the ravioli..why bother with the farmed salmon?

For main course two of us chose partridge, one venison and one halibut. The partridge was roasted on the bone, breasts removed & legs ballotined and sereved with a rich mead sauce. The bird was perfectly cooked and presented and while not exactly pushing the culinary envelope, it was very assured cooking and the strength of the sauce was well judged and allowed the mild gaminess of the partridge to come through. The venison was nicely hung and served just the right side of rare to give it a buttery texture. It's accompaniment of chocolate filled gnocci was too rich and was left uneaten. Halibut was studded with salmon and served with a horseradish veloute. Another successful dish with a beautifully cooked piece of fish at the centre and garnish and light sauce doing what they should. We finished off with some Irish and French cheese which was served in perfect condition. Some scorched espresso was the only real low point of the meal.

The wine list is comedically large and should be lowered from the ceiling on a hoist! Although it is only possible to read about on tenth of the list, there are some excellent wines at surprisingly restrained mark ups if you look hard enough.

Overall we found the cooking to be safe two star stuff that probably needs an injection of imagination but could not be faulted on execution. The room itself, like the rest of the hotel, is very American hotel chain style..high on cost, low on taste ( think gold plating, marble everywhere and lots of pastal colours and floral patterns).

Service started out very well but got patchy at the later stages and the room needs a strong managerial presence. If they can tweak the menu and improve the service, they will be a shoe-in for two stars.

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  • 2 months later...

According to this week's Phoenix - roughly (well, very roughly) the Irish equivalent of Private Eye - the very negative Doorley review mentioned above has had a predictably disastrous impact on bookings for this much-hyped restaurant.

Phoenix goes on to speculate mischievously that if Goodfellas' pursuit of the Irish News for a negative dining review is sustained by the High Court in Belfast (see elsewhere on eGullet), the aggrieved Powerscourt promoters might be tempted to recover their losses by taking Doorley and the Irish Times to law. Perish the thought!

Some of the details in the report seem to point towards an aggrieved insider as a source although there is no speculation on what they are paying to Ramsay for use of the name.

Anybody been there recently?

.

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Apologies for being so late posting my review (and it is very kind considering the experience we had), here it is in full (and it anyone is suing, I think that diners who paid full whack while they were ironing out their problems might consider suing under the 1980 Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act):

“Ta siad ag teacht”, was the famous catch line on a Guinness ad many years ago as Aran Island natives surveyed the watery horizon for a keg-laden currach. But our move from turf to terroir has been swift and the nature of the landings has changed. This time, it’s the culinary Vikings, and we’re meant to be lovin’ it.

Gary Rhodes rowed in first with a load of mashed potatoes to be distributed north of the Liffey, Novelli went on the telly, talked about his love life and left, and Marco Pierre White (well, probably just his name) is en route to brand Harry Crosbie’s planned 300-seater brasserie beside the new Point Theatre.

But the big news of course is Gordo, his Gastro Greatness. With promises of culinary supremacy using the fresh, local and seasonal bounty from our land of milk and money, we too, he tells us, can have the type of restaurant that makes Michelin men weep. He’s taking us there, to the top of the mountain, albeit in Enniskerry, a Ryanair suburb of Dublin.

What joy, I can hardly wait. So I pop over to Ramsian Utopia in London to get a good indicator of what to expect. A flawless dinner in Pètrus, Ramsay’s Michelin two-star restaurant in London is followed by a text book perfect lunch in his three-star restaurant on Royal Hospital Road. And guess what, Ramsay is no more at the pass in either kitchen than Armani is at the sewing machine in Milano. It’s just business, and if it works, it works. And so far, it’s worked to the tune of £67 million in Ramsay’s Rock & Republic back pocket.

Getting a table isn’t easy, but ‘the gastronomes’, our Michelin-eating friends invite us to join their learned palates for our first taste of Ramsay in Ireland, albeit the only reservation to be had is 8pm on a Sunday evening. We start with champagne in the bar, we sip a little cappuccino of sweet corn which is paired with a blue cheese beignet and we nod sagely and smile as we ‘get’ the sweet-salty idea of the amuse bouche. A waiter offers us another drink, the menus please, we ask for the second time, and the third. We wait nearly an hour for the menus which have found much more deserving eyes in the bar upstairs. This is obviously the part where bitter is introduced into the repertoire of tastes and the amuse is firmly wiped off our bouches.

We are guided to our table for four, a monstrous six-seater Round Cow Roundabout, positioned strategically between the service station and the computers with a perfect view of the half pinned notes blowing on the notice board each time the kitchen door is opened. We ask for an upgrade, we battle against the arrival of bread, water and whatnot as we wait for the superior table to be prepared and eventually settle into the cosy bosom of a wall. Our second amuse bouche arrives, a langoustine in a crispy spring roll, and smiles are dutifully reunited with their owners.

Our starters arrive. The single roasted sea scallop with crisp pork belly (€24) is one of the new Irish dishes, but it is practically cold. Not just sorta, kinda, left-on-the-pass-too-long cold, but get-your-ice-cold-beers-here cold. The caramelised veal sweetbreads (€24) are appropriately golden, but are overcooked and lacking in creamy rudeness. A major disappointment as the sweetbreads in Pètrus in London, served with a deeply savoury sauce are outstanding. And Ramsay’s signature lobster and crab ravioli (€25), a perfectly poised dish from his three-star restaurant in London takes a nose dive into bland mediocrity in the back of beyonds in Ireland, irredeemably spiked with a heavy hand with the lemongrass. This is an incredible dish when made correctly, but a complete joke when it’s not. Where’s that amuse bouche when I need it? The risotto (€22), which requires no wait (always worrying), is a little wetter than I’d expect, but the rice has a good bite, there are plenty of fresh cèpes and the black truffle, oh yes, there it is, is completely tasteless. But on the whole, I enjoy it.

We experience highs and lows with the main courses too. The roast partridge (€40) is delicious, except his poor little leg is overcooked and the fondant potato is underdone. The mead sauce is too sweet for my palate, but everyone else loves it and it is mead after all. The venison (€40) is cooked perfectly, but could have been gamier, and the gnocchi (which looks and tastes reheated) in a chocolate sauce wins the misconceived prize of the evening. The tarte tatin is off, we are informed, a dearth of apples and pastry upon thy house, we check our Sunday night watches, and our consolation desserts finally arrive. They are good, there’s a nice tempered crack to the bitter chocolate tower (€12) and the chocolate fondant (€12) comes with a deliciously restrained milk ice-cream. We have asked to have desserts served at the same time as the cheese (€18). The gawd-help-us waiter explains that two of the cheeses have dried up since lunch time. This is an Irish goats’ cheese he continues, pointing to an Ardsallagh. The poor fellow just needs some sleep. So too do the front-of-house staff who have started setting some of the tables for breakfast, a stark reminder that we are in a hotel. Which makes getting our bill even more difficult as we skip coffee to get out before the Monday morning rush hour kicks in. We munch through the lovely petits fours, our bill eventually arrives, our dessert wines have been comped (possibly at the suggestion of the wonderful young French sommelier) we part with €567 and a 10% tip and we head off home.

I’m not one for ruminating, but as I’m so disappointed, I ruminate for days. It is almost, I surmise, as if Powerscourt is the red-haired stepchild in Gordo’s culinary family. He misses the birth, arrives nearly a month late to give his blessing and as the days progress and our friends receive no response to the politely worded letter they’ve sent, it seems that this absentee chef just doesn’t give a damn. But three weeks later the phone rings and it’s Gordo’s people. What a dreadful experience, they say to our friends, thank you so much for your very helpful comments, actually we’ve made some of your suggested changes already, please, please, do come again, we’d love you to be our guests and we’ll be in touch to arrange things for you. So we’re back on track with the Ramsay Rollercoaster. This is the sort of professionalism we are entitled to expect using his own custom made yardstick. And I, for one, am happy to give him time to get this place squared away.

A week later, the written invitation to dine as Ramsay’s guest in Powerscourt pops through the letterbox of the gastronomes’ home. It is for two people only. Just half of the offended party; so we, I’m afraid, are not going to the ball. The culinary emperor’s ball.

So, the sainted Emperor Gordon Ramsey, master of all he surveys, holder of 11 Michelin stars around the world, the man pummeling the air of your living room with expletives every time you turn on the telly, is it all hype or is it real? Does the emperor have any clothes? Well, having enjoyed extraordinary dining experiences at his restaurants in London, it’s clear that, yes, he does. Or, as the great man himself might put it, “Clothes? I’ve got a whole ****ing wardrobe of clothes!” The only problem is that, for the moment, he’s left all his best clobber in London.

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According to this week's Phoenix - roughly (well, very roughly) the Irish equivalent of Private Eye - the very negative Doorley review mentioned above has had a predictably disastrous impact on bookings for this much-hyped restaurant.

.

Interesting.

Being half of one of Corinna's aforementioned "Gastronome's" :blush: we called perhaps 3 weeks ago to make a second swoop at Gordo's. The first Friday/Saturday we could get at a reasonable hour was early March. Bookings haven't dipped that much I feel.....

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I’m sure most of the weekend bookings are tied up for residents, still, it makes it more difficult for them to prove damages if they decide to sue Doorley. In any event, it would be complete folly as I don’t think that there was a single bit of Doorley’s review that could be considered libellous.

They may do well to heed long standing advice: "never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel”. Bring it on, I say, it would be great drama if they were stupid enough to take an action.

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  • 3 weeks later...

While my esteemed and delightful other half will no longer be along shortly with a more....loqucious.... review in due course, I must report that Take II @ Gordon Ramsay @ Powerscourt was more of a success. Service was really rather good, the trip around the kitchens an eye opener - they are serene, relatively quiet and *enormous*, the food was far, FAR better than last time (although still rather cool) and all in all an enjoyable experience.

My only complaint is that the "aged" tipperary beef was tasteless, tougher than expected and rather...."blah".

The emperor has put come clothes on, but they're more in the nature of jeans and a jumper, rather than Sunday best.

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Well, as HannaBanana said, our second Ramsay experience was much more positive than our first. Before we ever even tasted a morsel, it was obvious that FOH have a much better grasp of the situation, and were far more in control of the room. It probably says something that I didn't recognise a single face from our previous visit...

As for the grub itself, things were much improved, the Pata Negra with whipped foie gras and the Lobster and Salmon raviolo being obvious standouts. The only real low-point was the banal beef (as pointed out by HannaBanana above) but even then the croquette went some way towards salvaging that dish for me. Another misgiving would be the cheeseboard, which just doesn't seem to last so well in the AC until late in the evening, as one or two of my cheeses seemed a little dry. All in all, though, it was a good dinner, showing every sign that the restaurant is capable of very good things.

Is it at the level of the other big boys around town? For my money, not really, and despite initial reports that the restaurant was aimed squarely at Guilbaud/Thornton quality but at a lower price, I don't think those guys have much to fear yet. That could be more to do with the fact that this food doesn't really "excite" me rather than any obvious failings, and maybe the Michelin Man will think differently when the time comes, but the wow factor wasn't there for me. Of course, not everyone wants wow factor, so if you're the sort who finds McGrath's food pretentious, R@P might be right up your street.

I still don't especially like the room, and the promised improvements weren't all that obvious to me. It didn't affect us this time as we were in a much better location, but I still wouldn't want to be at the big table beside the corridor to the kitchens. I would be tempted to return for lunch some sunny Sunday when the all-important view might actually be visible, but a window seat would be pretty crucial. One of the waiters also mentioned plans to serve lunch/dinner on the terrace during the summer months, Irish weather permitting, and that sounds like an excellent idea.

One other interesting thing to note is that FOH are making a specific effort to cultivate a relaxed atmosphere, nothing too stiff and formal, and this seems to be working quite effectively. It brings a fairly "Irish" feel to proceedings, and at the risk of sounding like an arrogant asshole, I suspect it makes the restaurant quite non-threatening to those not used to eating a la Michelin. This seems like a very sensible move to me, and I imagine Sunday lunch with the Mammy/kids is a guaranteed revenue stream. For now, I don't get the impression that they're targeting the *very* highest levels of gastronomy, nor the trappings that go with it, and that's probably no bad thing.

So, who wants to organise an eGullet gathering at the chef's table?

Si

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As for the grub itself, things were much improved, the Pata Negra with whipped foie gras and the Lobster and Salmon raviolo being obvious standouts. The only real low-point was the banal beef (as pointed out by HannaBanana above) but even then the croquette went some way towards salvaging that dish for me.

So it sounds like 'Irish' food isn't really the thing here. And serving dried up cheese is just pure rude.

Good to hear things have improved, although, considering they were rolling out the apologetic red carpet for you, it would be shocking if they hadn't.

Can't say I find the idea of the chef's table very tempting, but agree that lunch on the terrace on a fine summer's day would be nice.

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Apparantely if you're at the Chefs table (and there is *enormous* demand for it) the chef(s) will saunter over and have chats about how various dishes are done, ask your opinion etc etc.

Personally, I'd find all that quite interesting (and I'd certainly try to get my money's worth!) but if you are only into *eating* your food, rather than *cooking* it (Simon, I'm looking at you! :raz: ) it might be something of a waste of money.

eta: I hope they'll be providing cushions for the outside chairs - they look mighty uncomfy....

Edited by HannaBanana (log)
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  • 6 months later...

Interesting, but not surprising. Here’s the piece in the Daily Mail

Head chef Paul Carroll, one of Ramsay’s most trusted employees, resigned just weeks ago, telling fellow staff he was unhappy with how it was being run.

‘The problem was that Gordon was never there and Paul was running the joint single-handedly,’ says my mole. ‘The restaurant is often empty and it is very expensive and people simply aren’t enjoying the experience.’

I don't know what gave him the idea that Gordo would be there to hold his hand. He doesn't do it anywhere else. In any event, it’s not closed and they are still taking bookings for the chef’s table, with Johnny McIver now acting as head chef. If he’s the guy who was cooking the night I was there, the place is doomed.

Things are tightening up a bit in Ireland with the recession. I heard that Capella Castlemartyr , a high profile luxury hotel in Cork, which opened with Roger Olson (ex Pied a Terre) as head chef, has gone into liquidation.

There are now a glut of hotels in Ireland that were built for tax purposes. The nursing homes of the future?

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