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Gordon Ramsay at the London


johnder
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I think Gordon Ramsey is being mistreated by the NYC food media.
Critics like Bruni and Platt have a bias against restaurants that do classic things well. They are bored by old-fashioned cuisine, practically no matter how well it is executed. They also don't enjoy the rituals of formal service. Remember, Bruni's favorite word for that type of service is "fussy," which he never means as a compliment. So Gordon Ramsay has two strikes against it, right off the bat.

That said, Neil Ferguson's dismissal suggests that, on some level, Ramsay believed that the restaurant wasn't up to his standards. Ferguson's replacement (I forget the name) has been in place for a while, so those who dine there now are quite possibly getting a better experience than Bruni and Platt did. GR got blasted by enough people that I have to think there was a core of truth to the complaints — although I did enjoy my meal there in late December.

Unfortunately, restaurants usually don't get a second chance to make a first impression. The critics move on to the latest batch of new openings, and you don't easily lure them back. I don't know what it would take to stir up critical interest in GR again, but I doubt it will happen anytime soon. I suppose if it gets two or three Michelin stars, it might give them a reason to take another look.

By the way, I rated Country higher than GR, but you're talking about subtle degrees of excellence. They are both very fine restaurants.

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I forgot to add something.

The first time I went to the London Bar, in February, I ordered a Vesper and had a lengthy chat with the bartender about it. (I'd been meaning to order one somewhere since the movie came out in November, but kept forgetting -- or getting distracted by other cocktails.)

My next visit to the London Bar, three weeks later . . . The Vesper was added to the cocktail menu.

I give myself full credit for this.

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I think Gordon Ramsey is being mistreated by the NYC food media.
Critics like Bruni and Platt have a bias against restaurants that do classic things well. They are bored by old-fashioned cuisine, practically no matter how well it is executed. They also don't enjoy the rituals of formal service. Remember, Bruni's favorite word for that type of service is "fussy," which he never means as a compliment. So Gordon Ramsay has two strikes against it, right off the bat.

Funny thing is, Bruni doesn't appear to like hypermodern or extremely creative cuisine either, but that is probably a discussion for another topic :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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To a certain extent his tastes are right in line with the majority of NYC's dining public.

Anyway, it remains to be seen if Gordon Ramsay @ The London will be a commercial success. Although the critics hardly loved it, I still think it's a hard table to book. I'm not sure if it was on Eater or Grub St., but one of them said that tables were booked for a same-day reso.

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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.

I got "comfortable in my own skin" a long time ago. The nice thing about classical European service (maybe classical service in any country - we found the same in Japan) is the servers almost always know a ton more than you do - but are always gracious when you do something dumb. I will take that any day over the server we had at Per Se - who knew less than I knew about food and wine than I did when I was 28 (maybe that's because he was about 22). I think he was a "wannabe actor" or something. You can call that kind of service "informal". I call it incompetent (at least at Per Se - it's certainly ok at Ruby Tuesday).

I guess when you get old enough (and I am there) - you're not afraid to make mistakes (unintentional or otherwise). We're going to Germany next month. You know what I know about German food - nothing. But if I'm afraid of making mistakes while dining - I'll never learn about the cuisine.

At any classical European restaurant - including GR in New York (I've only been to RHR in London) - I think you really have to pace yourself in terms of rich food. Even if you're only doing 3 courses. I can (and do) cook this kind of stuff at home on occasion - and when you see how much butter and cream and the like can go into 2 tablespoons of a reduced sauce - well - it's better to have at least one out of 3 courses that's on the lighter side (I made a duck sauce the other night that started with a whole bottle of port - among other things - and wound up with 1/2 cup of sauce).

What do you think are the 3 greatest restaurants in New York? Robyn

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Let me put it this way:  better than Country, a little worse perhaps than Picholine.  But in no way a lot worse.

I've only had one meal at each (both extended tasting menus), but I found the food at Picholine to be of generally a much higher level than GR. In fact, probably the best I've had so far this year here in the city. Service, to me, at both places left something to be desired. It just didn't quite seem...genuine, if that makes any sense. The atmosphere in GR was boring and lifeless, even compared with my experience at Picholine where the average age in the room probably hovered around 60. I would return to Picholine in a heartbeat. Gordon Ramsay? Not so much.

I've also been considering giving Country a try for quite some time now. Is it even worth it considering my view of how Picholine and GR stacked up against one another?

Sneak? Bryan? Others?

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To a certain extent [bruni's] tastes are right in line with the majority of NYC's dining public.

There has never been a time when a majority of NYC's dining public was eating out regularly at places like Gordon Ramsay. That's why there are so few places of its kind, in comparison to diners, trattorias, pizzarias, bistros, Chinese, sushi bars, chain restaurants, hamburger stands, and so forth.

If you're going to have a restaurant critic, he needs to be able to review restaurants on their own terms. A majority of people prefer rock music to opera, but that fact doesn't intrude when operas are reviewed.

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The nice thing about classical European service (maybe classical service in any country - we found the same in Japan) is the servers almost always know a ton more than you do - but are always gracious when you do something dumb.  I will take that any day over the server we had at Per Se - who knew less than I knew about food and wine than I did when I was 28....

What do you think are the 3 greatest restaurants in New York?

A fuller discussion should probably be its own thread (assuming it's worth discussing). But there is nobody who has suggested that GR at The London is one of the top 3. I gave it a more positive review than most critics, and I'm not even sure it's in the top 10. As I suggested upthread, when Ramsay replaces the chef de cuisine, it's a good sign he's not satisfied.

Part of the problem with your question is that there are very few of us who've actually dined often enough at the candidate restaurants. It's very obvious that you wouldn't put Per Se in the top 3 based on the experience you had, but Per Se is a much-reviewed restaurant, and I don't recall anyone else having as incompetent server as you seem to have had. If you paid another 3-4 visits to Per Se, and another 3-4 visits to all the other NYC restaurants with a plausible claim to being in the top three, I'd be very surprised if Per Se's service consistently rated lower than the other restaurants in its class.

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The major problem with 3 star Michelin restaurants word-wide is I doubt many people eat at particular ones all that often. Even if they live in the place where the restaurant is. So consistency is of utmost importance.

I know there are 2 points of view about this. The first (not mine) is that any great restaurant can have a bad night. The (second) mine is that a great restaurant should be great the night I dine there (unless the chef has had a heart attack or his wife has gone into labor). We'll dine at 2 3 star restaurants in Germany next month and we'll see how it goes. Robyn

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I think Gordon Ramsey is being mistreated by the NYC food media.
Critics like Bruni and Platt have a bias against restaurants that do classic things well. They are bored by old-fashioned cuisine, practically no matter how well it is executed. They also don't enjoy the rituals of formal service. Remember, Bruni's favorite word for that type of service is "fussy," which he never means as a compliment. So Gordon Ramsay has two strikes against it, right off the bat.

Funny thing is, Bruni doesn't appear to like hypermodern or extremely creative cuisine either, but that is probably a discussion for another topic :wink:

I don't care whether or not Bruni is gay. I live in a golf resort area a little out of Jacksonville (you can wave to me at the TPC in couple of weeks). He talks about food the way just about every male golfer I've ever played with here in years of playing talks. Steak is great - particularly if served with/by sexy women. Stranger food (anything that is not steak) is frequently ok if not served in formal surroundings. He has had to bow a bit to TPTB in New York - not like giving Per Se 1 star. But overall - to me - he's just an average guy who seems to enjoy average guy food. Wonder what his handicap his? Robyn

Edited by robyn (log)
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I think Gordon Ramsey is being mistreated by the NYC food media.
Critics like Bruni and Platt have a bias against restaurants that do classic things well. They are bored by old-fashioned cuisine, practically no matter how well it is executed. They also don't enjoy the rituals of formal service. Remember, Bruni's favorite word for that type of service is "fussy," which he never means as a compliment. So Gordon Ramsay has two strikes against it, right off the bat.

Funny thing is, Bruni doesn't appear to like hypermodern or extremely creative cuisine either, but that is probably a discussion for another topic :wink:

I don't care whether or not Bruni is gay. I live in a golf resort area a little out of Jacksonville (you can wave to me at the TPC in couple of weeks). He talks about food the way just about every male golfer I've ever played with here in years of playing talks. Steak is great - particularly if served with/by sexy women. Stranger food (anything that is not steak) is frequently ok if not served in formal surroundings. He has had to bow a bit to TPTB in New York - not like giving Per Se 1 star. But overall - to me - he's just an average guy who seems to enjoy average guy food. Wonder what his handicap his? Robyn

What does Bruni's sexual orientation have to do with anything here? :huh:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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What do you think are the 3 greatest restaurants in New York?  Robyn

I've never eaten at Per Se, and I'm answering this as of right now, 12:21 AM on April 26, 2007 (I might answer differently in an hour) (when, like, maybe I'll feel better disposed to Daniel -- which I really like -- or less jaded about Le Bernardin). But, as of right now:

Jean Georges

Eleven Madison Park

Sushi Yasuda

(If I had drunk more with dinner tonight, maybe I'd say Momofuku Ssam. But that would just be japery.)

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Another detail to mention.

Throughout the meal, the entire service staff kept referring to my date -- a 30-year-old woman who looks younger and couldn't possibly be construed to be my wife -- in the third person, as "madame", with the accent on the second syllable. Even though none was French (one was German, one was British, and the rest were American).

I alternated finding it charming and creepy.

Where -- at least at places that are serious -- do you see that any more in New York?

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Another detail to mention.

Throughout the meal, the entire service staff kept referring to my date -- a 30-year-old woman who looks younger and couldn't possibly be construed to be my wife -- in the third person, as "madame", with the accent on the second syllable.  Even though none was French (one was German, one was British, and the rest were American).

I alternated finding it charming and creepy.

Where -- at least at places that are serious -- do you see that any more in New York?

Today - madame is simply a polite French/sometimes Continental way to refer to a woman who is too old to be a mademoiselle (most women past college age) - whether or not she is married. Just like a polite way to refer to the same type of woman in the southeast US is m'am. And in Spanish - it would be senora. Etc. Robyn

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I was wondering the same thing. I kept re-reading the prior post and reply to figure it out and still can't.

I don't know many gay guys - or "foodie" guys for that matter (straight or gay) - who are big steak house types. Bruni seems to be an exception. On my part - I think that steakhouses are annoyingly expensive - boring - and predictable. Robyn

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top 3 in NY (I haven't been to Per Se or Masa):

Jean Georges

Momofuku Ssam (I'm being both perverse and serious)

WD-50

with shoutouts to Yasuda, Robuchon, Esca and Daniel.

best restaurant in America:

Alinea

How can you say that Alinea is the best restaurant in the US when you haven't even been to Per Se - which is (for you) a local restaurant. Did you ever go to Alain Ducasse before it closed?

On my part - I wouldn't presume to say what the best restaurant in the US (or any other country) is (although I can give opinions about those restaurants I consider the best where I live - I just go out more at home than anywhere else). Just haven't been to enough of them (although I have been to Per Se and Alain Ducasse). All I can say is where I've had my best/favorite meals. Robyn

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I was wondering the same thing. I kept re-reading the prior post and reply to figure it out and still can't.

I don't know many gay guys - or "foodie" guys for that matter (straight or gay) - who are big steak house types. Bruni seems to be an exception. On my part - I think that steakhouses are annoyingly expensive - boring - and predictable. Robyn

He's no exception at least for the 'gay guy' part. Myself, my partner, and tons of my (gay) friends are steak house afficianados.

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Another detail to mention.

Throughout the meal, the entire service staff kept referring to my date -- a 30-year-old woman who looks younger and couldn't possibly be construed to be my wife -- in the third person, as "madame", with the accent on the second syllable.  Even though none was French (one was German, one was British, and the rest were American).

I alternated finding it charming and creepy.

Where -- at least at places that are serious -- do you see that any more in New York?

Today - madame is simply a polite French/sometimes Continental way to refer to a woman who is too old to be a mademoiselle (most women past college age) - whether or not she is married. Just like a polite way to refer to the same type of woman in the southeast US is m'am. And in Spanish - it would be senora. Etc. Robyn

To clarify, I find referring to women in the third person as kind of creepy. I believe they addressed me as "you".

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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top 3 in NY (I haven't been to Per Se or Masa):

Jean Georges

Momofuku Ssam (I'm being both perverse and serious)

WD-50

with shoutouts to Yasuda, Robuchon, Esca and Daniel.

best restaurant in America:

Alinea

How can you say that Alinea is the best restaurant in the US when you haven't even been to Per Se - which is (for you) a local restaurant. Did you ever go to Alain Ducasse before it closed?

On my part - I wouldn't presume to say what the best restaurant in the US (or any other country) is (although I can give opinions about those restaurants I consider the best where I live - I just go out more at home than anywhere else). Just haven't been to enough of them (although I have been to Per Se and Alain Ducasse). All I can say is where I've had my best/favorite meals. Robyn

best restaurant in the U.S. that I've been to.

as for Per Se, I simply won't deal with the reservation system.

Ducasse never struck me as being worth the money on my budget.

fwiw, I've heard (more than once) from people who have eaten everywhere that the best restaurant in the U.S. is the Mansion.

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On my part - I wouldn't presume to say what the best restaurant in the US (or any other country) is (although I can give opinions about those restaurants I consider the best where I live - I just go out more at home than anywhere else).  Just haven't been to enough of them (although I have been to Per Se and Alain Ducasse).  All I can say is where I've had my best/favorite meals.  Robyn

I agree with this wholeheartedly.

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