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Gordon Ramsay at the London


johnder
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hmmm....I read it as specific to Bruni....but maybe that was an error...if it was not intended to be a personal critique of Bruni, my apologies. (I still think that the sheer multiplicity of NY restaurant openings combined with a shortage of space essentially make it impossible to do frequent re-reviews.)

My specific issue with algy's post is that I don't think he knew how long Bruni had been on the job (not very long).....

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I read it as being directed to "the New York Times critic" or "any critic who does not regularly re-review".

you read it right (and also my out of town status). I don't even visit very often - some of us over here still take that 1776 business very badly. Mind you, we've sent you Gordon (off and on) and our (about to be ex) Prime Minister as a way of getting our own back.

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he has essentially done two re-reviews

For restaurants he's reviewed that have a casual cafe or "bar room" attached (BLT Fish, Country, The Modern, Gordon Ramsay), I took both the review and the rating to be primarily driven by the main dining room, but rather, a new recognition that it deserved to be recognized separately. Bruni's only self re-review is Eleven Madison Park.

In a very similar way, this week's review talked about The London Bar, but does anyone doubt that the two stars were primarily driven by the dining room?

Update: Bruni has a new blog post about GR, titled Flushes and Flashes. He talks about the bathrooms (one of his well known pet peeves) and the unusual number of people in the dining room taking flash photos.

One of the commenters (#2) takes Bruni bitterly task for treating a casual bar room and a main dining room as one restaurant, which the commenter notes Bruni has done on more than one occasion. The suggestion is that Bruni should do as Adam Platt did in his review of GR, and rate the two rooms separately.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I'd modify that to say we expect a bell curve, with most restaurants getting better for a year or two (because very few restaurants open well), then leveling off for awhile, then going into a decline. That's not the case with absolutely every restaurant -- some of them (Jean Georges) stay good and others (Gramercy Tavern is a recent example) have sine wave graphs. But most peak after the ramp-up, then slip both in absolute terms and relative to the newer restaurants around them.

I think we need to distinguish the circumstances of the restaurant's creation, and what the chef does afterwards. At WD-50, the restaurant remains Wylie Dufresne's main endeavour. I don't have a good historical perspective, but I suspect it has only gotten better since Grimes reviewed it.

At David Burke & Donatella or BLT Fish, we've got a chef who was initially very focused, but is now spread very thin. There's no surprise that both restaurants seems to have slipped.

At Gordon Ramsay, we've got a chef that was arguably over-exposed even before he arrived in New York. He has more restaurants and more TV shows in the works. Is he driven to put the energy into making this place the best it can be?

I suppose there's the fourth class of restaurants where the chef stays focused, but time just passes them by. A good example is David Waltuck at Chanterelle. It's still his main activity, and I cannot imagine that he's suddenly forgotten how to cook. But people just don't get as excited about it as they used to.

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Update: Bruni has a new blog post about GR, titled Flushes and Flashes. He talks about the bathrooms (one of his well known pet peeves)

this area is a transcultural minefield. In my country, lavatories - never bathrooms, we couldn't contemplate having a bath in a restaurant - are still restricted to the upper strata of society. Those of us lucky enough to own one, like to leave the doors a little loose-fitting so that our neighbours can walk in at any time, admire our plumbing and catch up on gossip.

I can see that it must be unnerving for someone who isn't used to building lavatories into their social intercourse.

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Frank Bruni's review made international news, with many of the major U.K. papers running a story about the smackdown. To quote just a few of the headlines:

Bruni lays into 'unexciting' Ramsay

The C(ritical) words are Ramsay isn't that hot

Ramsay really just a goody two-shoes, derides critic

Ramsay's 'cloying, gummy' turbot leaves New York cold

RAMSAY'S BIG APPLE IS PANNED

This quote from The Scotsman speaks for itself:

Frank Bruni's opinion may be that of just one person, but in New York it can make or break a restaurant before it can even be established.

He is widely known in New York culinary circles as the only man worth taking seriously.

He visits an establishment three times or more before reviewing it, and is said to don a disguise to avoid being recognised.

I'm not sure where any of that comes from, but it's an indication of how our fair city's principal critic is perceived elsewhere. Edited by oakapple (log)
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Frank Bruni's review made international news, with many of the major U.K. papers running a story about the smackdown. To quote just a few of the headlines:

Bruni lays into 'unexciting' Ramsay

The C(ritical) words are Ramsay isn't that hot

Ramsay really just a goody two-shoes, derides critic

Ramsay's 'cloying, gummy' turbot leaves New York cold

RAMSAY'S BIG APPLE IS PANNED

This quote from The Scotsman speaks for itself:

Frank Bruni's opinion may be that of just one person, but in New York it can make or break a restaurant before it can even be established.

He is widely known in New York culinary circles as the only man worth taking seriously.

He visits an establishment three times or more before reviewing it, and is said to don a disguise to avoid being recognised.

I'm not sure where any of that comes from, but it's an indication of how our fair city's principal critic is perceived elsewhere.

If he dons disguises then does someone else disguise themself as him? That could be tricky. Maybe he never went to GR, maybe the person disguised as him went, while he went to Varietal. Does anyone remember the 50's and 60's TV show What's My Line?

This could open the door to a myriad of possibilities. It also explains why his reviews have been confusing - he doesn't know who he is. Possibly he disguises himself as Mark Twain or Emily Bronte when writing and this confuses the issue even more.

Maybe he went to GR or Varietal or Porchetta as Colonel Sanders and that's why he made said remark in the GR review.

Maybe I'm him and I'm just disgused as me to fool him or me? Wow, this is really confusing now.

And what happened to the headline: Gordon Ramsay Lays an Egg.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Yeah.  Maybe if we were all toilet trained at age 6 months like you guys are we'd understand it.  [sMILEY]

watch it yank - how do you think we get our stiff upper lips?

ps can't do smileys - upper lip too stiff

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Update: Bruni has a new blog post about GR, titled Flushes and Flashes. He talks about the bathrooms (one of his well known pet peeves)

this area is a transcultural minefield. In my country, lavatories - never bathrooms, we couldn't contemplate having a bath in a restaurant - are still restricted to the upper strata of society. Those of us lucky enough to own one, like to leave the doors a little loose-fitting so that our neighbours can walk in at any time, admire our plumbing and catch up on gossip.

I can see that it must be unnerving for someone who isn't used to building lavatories into their social intercourse.

I can't understand the attention paid to lavatories. I like swell ones (the Virgin Atlantic upper class lounge at Gatwick has one that's fabulous). But you do what you gotta do.

Bruni *is* a guy - yes? And he's supposed to be well-traveled. How much trouble does he have? As a woman who travels a lot - I am always happy to find a a "loo" that is reasonably clean and consists of something more than a hole in the ground (I cheated at the hole in the ground places in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan by using the handicapped facilities - which tend to be what we're used to in the west).

The only lavatory stories that upset me are ones like the one where the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in Philadelphia had its annual meeting (lots of people attended in wheelchairs) at a restaurant where you had to walk down a flight of stairs into the basement to "go". Pretty stupid. Robyn

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  • 1 month later...

Gordon Ramsay has introduced a new prix fixe lunch and afternoon menu in the London Bar:

http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/the-l...-bar/menu1.html

according to Grub Street, the portion sizes have been increased (they better...two regular courses from the London Bar wouldn't feed anyone)

in addition, there is a new "bites" menu as well.

http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/the-l...-bar/menu3.html

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Eater reports that Neil Ferguson has been removed as chef de cuisine at Gordon Ramsay. One of Ferguson's deputies, Josh Emett, replaces him.

The press release tries to put a good face on it: "We are thrilled with the level and caliber of work Neil Ferguson has achieved at Gordon Ramsay at The London." But everyone will know the reasons for this move.

One wonders how much of a real difference Emett could make. It is very difficult to get the critics' attention a second time. Gilt offers an example of this. Chris Lee replaced Paul Liebrandt, and most of the critics have totally ignored the place.

The replacement of Ferguson is arguably a lot less significant, given that the prevailing concept of the restaurant is, at least nominally, still Ramsay's.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Josh Emett was previously the head chef at The savoy grill, having worked for Ramsay at both Claridges, Maze and his 3 michelin starred Chelsea restaurant and is an outstanding chef whos appointment i'm sure can only viewed as a positive.

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Is it really that positive though? Chef Ferguson is being replaced in what seems like an unfavorable light. Furthermore, oakapple is right, how does one extract the Chef de Cuisine from a restaurant that is ostensibly still run by a global celebrity chef?

Then again it seemed that Tony Esnault brought an significant improvement to the food at ADNY. Was he a critical and commercial success? Probably less so.

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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Is it really that positive though?  Chef Ferguson is being replaced in what seems like an unfavorable light.  Furthermore, oakapple is right, how does one extract the Chef de Cuisine from a restaurant that is ostensibly still run by a global celebrity chef?

Then again it seemed that Tony Esnault brought an significant improvement to the food at ADNY.  Was he a critical and commercial success?  Probably less so.

I could easily believe that Emett will be an improvement on Ferguson. My real question is whether anyone will pay attention. The media have, in a sense, "moved on," and it will be hard to overcome the spate of bad publicity that attended the launch (much of which was probably not Ferguson's fault).
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Is it really that positive though?  Chef Ferguson is being replaced in what seems like an unfavorable light.  Furthermore, oakapple is right, how does one extract the Chef de Cuisine from a restaurant that is ostensibly still run by a global celebrity chef?

Then again it seemed that Tony Esnault brought an significant improvement to the food at ADNY.  Was he a critical and commercial success?  Probably less so.

I could easily believe that Emett will be an improvement on Ferguson. My real question is whether anyone will pay attention. The media have, in a sense, "moved on," and it will be hard to overcome the spate of bad publicity that attended the launch (much of which was probably not Ferguson's fault).

Most of the reviews i saw were more than favourable about the food, it was the toilets/bread/"celebrity chef bashing" that seemed more negative? I agree that most of the hype will obviously have died down now but i don't see that this will either stop people going in future or suddenly make them express a desire to visit if they haven't already been... :wacko:

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Most of the reviews i saw were more than favourable about the food....
You need to re-read the reviews. The major critics weren't impressed with the food. I'm not saying the critics were right, only being honest about what they said.
I don't see that this will either stop people going in future or suddenly make them express a desire to visit if they haven't already been...

I'm assuming that business hasn't been up to expectations—else, why make the move? So what I'm saying is that I think it will be a long slog to get people more interested in the restaurant than they are now.
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  • 3 weeks later...

I thought it was exhaustive but exhausting. The least well-written piece I've seen from Buford. And it seemed to contribute little to the dialog. Gawker called it "maddeningly hagiographic." I'm not going to do better than that.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think Gordon Ramsey is being mistreated by the NYC food media.

I finally got to eat in the dining room last night. It was very enjoyable -- in a highly retro sort of way. The food did not knock my socks off, but it was all immaculately prepared and quite delicious.

The experience reminded me of when I started "fine dining" as a young law associate 25 years ago. I was always vaguely uncomfortable in "fancy" restaurants, with their batteries of deferential servers. And the food, too, was "fancy" in a way you don't see anymore. Not in the "classic French"/Le Grenuoille sense, but in a somewhat more (formerly) contemporary elaborate-but-not-innovative, full-fatted sense that nouvelle cuisine was beginning to root out but which I caught the tail end of.

Now I'm comfortable in my own skin, and not intimidated by servers in restaurants. But on the other hand, there's no question that the predominant style of service at top NYC restaurants has become more informal over the last 25 years. So the kind of service you get at GR brought me back, because it's not like what you see in NYC restaurants these days. It's more like the European model, where every table gets four or so servers. Of course, under the European model, everything happens effortlessly, whereas here effort seems to be the word. Bryan said he was confused, because he didn't know who to ask for what. I felt the same way. As I said, it took me back to the days when I didn't feel like I knew what I was doing in restaurants.

As for the food, it's pretty much as has been described here. Old-fashioned sauces, rather than the much lighter emulsions Jean-Georges Vongerichten has accustomed us to (what a revelation JoJo was in that regard, when it first opened!). No Asian influences. Just good tasty haute Franco-British food. As this thread has worn on, I think the emphasis has been lost on just how good it tastes. By the end of the meal (I had the three-course dinner, not the tasting menu), I had to admit it was cumulatively too rich for me. But each dish was itself balanced, and while they weren't challenging in any way, none was boring.

I was paying too much attention to conversation (and to my date) to give any kind of detailed rundown of what I ate. But my general comments above stand. This is not one of the great restaurants of New York, as Ramsay surely hoped. But it's nothing close to mediocre. It's very very very good. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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