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Gordon Ramsay@ Claridges: The Biggest Flop Since Ishtar

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Matthew - welcome to the site.

You are right of course to say that a chef cannot simply ask for 3 stars, it was a fatuous remark. However, I do feel that Michelin like the sort of public courting that Marco and Ramsay indulged in and that it certainly did their  relationship with the guide no harm. That said, I don't know precisely how these things work, but if you go on to the extent that Ramsay did about getting his 3rd star, I'm sure the guide must have had some helpful feedback for him help him on his way.

I read in "La Tante Claire" that Koffmann demands a quiet kitchen, and he comes across very well in both his books. Roux Jr also appears a gentleman from my siting of him in the Gaveroche dining room and on the tele.

However, what do we really know about them and how they manage their brigades? My guess is that they are probably as reasonable a boss as you could expect to find, but the truth is I have no idea. This lack of knowledge won't prevent me from returning to their restaurants however (lack of funds will do that!).

I have no wish to knock GR BTW. It's just that he has entered the next phase of his career which is now more to do with building a business empire than a reputation, and that is of no interest to me as a paying guest. I'm more interested in finding the new GR before the tele and big money get to him or her.      

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Quote: from Tony Finch on 9:06 am on Dec. 17, 2001

Mr Ramsay may be a fine cook and all but I,for one,will not hand over my money to anyone who thinks its all right to humiliate,abuse and deprive people of their livelihood whenever the mood so takes him.

With all respect, regardless of why Ramsay is the way he is -- I'll continue to dine at both Royal Hospital Road and Claridge's.  The food at RHR is very good relative to other London establishments, with Koffman at La Tante Claire and Demeter (sic) at Putney Bridge being the only other restaurants in London operating at a comparable level in my mind.  Demeter is not less expensive, however, than the two more established chefs when a la carte is ordered.

Despite Ramsay's being among the best restaurants in the UK, employees who cannot tolerate his ways should pursue their careers elsewhere.  To the extent the benefits of continued association with Ramsay outweigh any abuse and other negative aspects, one should "take the bad with the good".

This brings to mind an unrelated anecdote relating to the snide comments Jean Troisgros had for Loiseau, who was working as a commis when the Troisgros brothers earned their third star.   The witnessing of this event was to have a profound motivating effect on Loiseau's own fixations on achieving a similar level.  (See "Burgundy Stars" book, which, interestingly, contains a chapter on the search for epoisse and other cheeses by the personnel at La Cote d'Or.)  J. Troisgros is alleged to have said that, if Loiseau can become a cook, then Troisgros himself would be an archbishop (or other important clergyman)!

Finally, on the sommeliers at Claridge's and Macrosan's post, the very young-looking sommelier at RHR (Thierry Berson, sic) has remained at RHR.  He is wonderfully knowledgeable and professional.  It took me a few visits to figure out that Thierry, the younger looking of the RHR sommeliers, is actually the lead sommelier.  He also moved with Ramsay from Aubergine.

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Is Thierry still there? I remember him from Aubergine (his mugshot also popped up in Passion for Flavour, as far as I recall) but was under the impression he had left (which was a shame because he really know his stuff). Whever have been to RHR there was an English guy there - sort of squat with a shaven head.



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Jon -- Thierry was there about 1 1/2 months ago and I have not seen him at Claridge's (even on weekends).  He likely functions as the lead sommelier of all Ramsay affiliated restaurants. For example, he put together the collection of Petrus vintages for Wareing's restaurant (maybe even some of the ones that contributed to the most expensive restaurant tab incurred by some Barclay's bankers a while ago -- funny how Ramsay received much more attention for that than did Wareing).  Anyhow, the other man you describe is also at Royal Hospital Road.  

By the way, the bar area at Claridge's seems nice (not the lounge area to which people are moved post-dinner to accommodate the turning of the tables).  I am thinking of asking for seating at the bar instead of in the little lounge next time.  

Claridge's has a better offering of champagne by the glass than RHR, perhaps due to Claridge's size.  I had a Dom Perignon of a decent year in the 1990s there last time by the glass.

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The bar at Claridges is now a shadow of its former self.  While it is trendier, I grant you,and  they offer a wide selection of cocktails, they are inexpertly made.  

A cosmopolitan was insufficiently clouded with lime, A Martini was practically swimming in vermouth and not chilled.  A whiskey sour lacked the appropriate froth.

Snackages were OK, small flaky biscuits, but over salted.

The prices are well above other better places with a drink on average being c£11 compared to £8 at No1 The Aldwych, to my mind the home of the best drinks in town.

Service was inefficient and bordering on the rude.

Much like the restaurant itself, Claridges has sold its birthright as a fairly stolid but utterly dependable place where things were made and prepared with expert attention but with non of the hoopla needed by today's herd and gone for glitz, glamour but thankfully ultimate failure.


(Edited by Simon Majumdar at 7:52 am on Jan. 4, 2002)

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If we're getting off the topic of GM, why not go for GN (Graham Norton) instead?

I like No 1, The Aldwych, too.  If my synapses are still in order,  this building used to house the Holborn/Aldwych branch of my bank when I was a student. I spent my entire student grant on a superb stereo system, and was ever in debt. I kept telling the bank manager (one year older than me, he appeared) "Please be charitable, I'll pay you back one day! "  "No", he says, "I charge you 5 pounds for letter sent today" (tho' I was standing in front of him).

Happy conclusion is: Nat-West Bank ousted from building and I can now afford to sit and drink there!

And back to GN: cheers Graham Norton with his kitty phone. He was there at No 1 Aldwych the night I was. I know, since I moved to the US I've become a pure sop.


(Edited by yvonne johnson at 10:00 pm on Jan. 4, 2002)

(Edited by yvonne johnson at 7:26 pm on Jan. 5, 2002)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Either they've moved onto another of his operations, they got better jobs or they weren't good enough. ramsay does have a reputation for sacking people (see waiter that got the bullet opening night of Gordon Ramsay filmed for Boiling Point).

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Warning: Unsubstantiated Vague Memory Follows

Just a note on GR from an ill-remembered article in a Canadian newspaper from last year or so. The Lad was in Toronto for some reason. Big preface about what a prick he is.  Interview happened at a well-regarded restaurant. GR was asked what he thought about the chef. "Not bloody much," or some such, pushing the plate away untouched.

(Edited by Jinmyo at 8:12 pm on Feb. 1, 2002)

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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