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Gordon Ramsay at the London


johnder
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If you read the article written by Bourdain I think he's simply striving not to become the next Ducasse. He wants his restaurant to be accessible but deliver all the punch of Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, etc. Whether he can accomplish all that for 20% cheaper, while running the dining operations for a luxury hotel, with union employees remains to be seen.

I personally have a hard time believing Ramsay will be able to create top-notch, engaging NYC dinner experience when he claims that the cost of dining without wine will be under $100 per person. If we compare GR @ The London, a fine-dining restaurant built on the Michelin three-star model, to the recently opened L' Atelier, a purposely not built on that model, the latter is far more expensive without even offering what the traditional (and costly) fine-dining experience. Ramsay says that his room service operations will help cover these costs, but we shall see.

In regards to the Ramsay's fears over Bruni, I actually think Ramsay's style of cooking might appeal to Bruni's tastes. As a general rule Bruni prefers relatively simple, well-crafted food that's executed very well over excessively creative dishes. At the upper level, Bruni rewards restaurants that are very good throughout--Country, Cru--more so than restaurants that shine or are unique in any one aspect--Gilt, The Modern.

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I personally have a hard time believing Ramsay will be able to create top-notch, engaging NYC dinner experience when he claims that the cost of dining without wine will be under $100 per person.
The prix fixe at Jean Georges is $95; at Daniel, $96; at Le Bernardin $105. Ramsay is starting out a bit below them, which is appropriate for an import that hasn't yet proved itself. I've very little doubt that, if he is successful, his dinner price will go up by $10-15 within the next 12-18 months.
In regards to the Ramsay's fears over Bruni, I actually think Ramsay's style of cooking might appeal to Bruni's tastes.  As a general rule Bruni prefers relatively simple, well-crafted food that's executed very well over excessively creative dishes.  At the upper level, Bruni rewards restaurants that are very good throughout--Country, Cru--more so than restaurants that shine or are unique in any one aspect--Gilt, The Modern.

That's a fair assessment of Bruni to date. I would also add that traditional luxury doesn't impress him. The problem with the analogy is that Country and Cru were probably delighted to earn three stars from the Times, but Ramsay will not be.
Don't tell Mr. Ramsay, but unfortunately New Yorkers don't intimidate very easily.

Intimidation might not be the right word, but the basic idea of coming in at a lower price point seems sensible. Edited by oakapple (log)
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interesting article:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,20...37506_1,00.html

I love the numerous factual errors.

For years everytime a friend has come to me (from the right or left) with some politically hot story that is being "reported in the British papers but not by the American!" I've had to explain that British newspapers don't do fact-checking.

seriously, they don't. not even the basic -- have an intern make some phone calls type of thing.

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NY does not have three Nobus.

(Next Door is the informal extension of the downtown Nobu)

the first American L'Atelier opened in Las Vegas sometime ago.

these errors are all of the vanilla type which are caught by basic intern-level - use the phone -- factchecking.

and generally speaking, the Times is better on accuracy than its more partisan rivals like the Guardian or the Telegraph.

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NY does not have three Nobus.

(Next Door is the informal extension of the downtown Nobu)

I don't consider the Nobu statement erroneous. New York does indeed have three separate restaurants with "Nobu" in the name. The Times reviewed Next Door Nobu separately. It has its own storefront, different hours, and is listed as a distinct restaurant in many guides.
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With all due respect, Nathan, within the context of the paragraph--Nobu Matsuhisa restaurants under some form of Nobu moniker--saying that NYC has three Nobus is effectively accurate. There's no use trying to get into the details.

With that said, the Ducasse and Atelier errors are relatively significant.

Anyway, Ramsay amuses me.

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I have found websites asserting that they have the same kitchen but none that I would consider definitive.

If, in fact, they do share the same kitchen then I absolutely stand by the assertion that to list NY as having three Nobus is an error.

I will also note that people do not refer to Los Angeles as having two Nobus despite the presence of Ubon, and that NY was not referred to in guides as having two Nobus before the advent of Nobu 57.

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based on that menu I would say that he appears to be genuine in shooting for a price point lower than that of his competition (especially in a hotel).

though before getting too excited I find it highly likely that the $55 and $65 "Chef's Menus" at the bottom are in fact lunch tasting menus.

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Getting back to the theme of this thread for a moment, note that the Ramsay menu is now to be viewed on menupages.com.

I woke up this morning to a text message asking me to show up for lunch at GR at 1.45pm.

Clearly, I thought it was a joke and called the messenger who in fact confirmed that was indeed the case.

Wear a jacket he stressed.

The restaurant is in the midst of ironing out the finer details of it's operations, sort of a complimentary friends and family lunch.

1. The Room.

Clearly cost is not exactly an issue, you enter into a less formal dining room with nice wooden top tables that look like Oak or Wenge, lovely light fixture above the bar.

Casual but smart, reminiscent of Maze/Grosvenor Square.

This leads into the more formal white tableclothed, better seats, quieter, carpeted dining room.

From a design standpoint, it's elegant but just a tad bit overdone for my tastes.

It isnt gaudy, just certain feng shui-ish design elements I dont like...such as too many mirrors and a double recessed cove ceiling.

The chairs are quite clever and possibly the best chairs I have sat in in any restaurant.

2. Service .

These folks are quite serious and focused on delivering the goods.

Everyone was pleasant and communicative without being "affected".

There was good waiter knowledge of wines and ingredients.

It seems the entire front house staff is exactly the same height.

Sommelier makes great recomendations to match the food.

First restaurant I have seen in a very long time where the principal front house staff and waiters are wearing suits/clothing that actually seems tailored to fit properly. Guys had on darker suits, double vented, narrow in the british style of Aquascutum or Oswald Boateng.

Wine service was flawless including a perfect removal of the foil cap and replacing it after decanting the wine so it made a neater presentation of the bottle.

China/Wineglass were of excellent quality, Bernadaud, J L Coquet, Royal daulton.

3. Food.

Amuse Bouche of..

Veloute of Butternut Squash, Sauteed Girolles, Parmesan, Truffle Oil

Altogether a delicious soup with tasty dice of squash.

Not too creamy. Girolles and Chanterelles are prettty much the same.

Nothing ground breaking but perfectly executed.

Courses #1

Langoustine Tails, Maple Chicken wings,Cauliflower Cream, Green Apple

Roasted Sweetbreads, Warm artichoke, Cepes, Perigord Truffle

Sweetbreads rocked, unmitigated wow, as did the little squared off maple chiken wing half of the Langoustine dish. I am allergic to shellfish but dining partner loved it.

Courses #2.

Turbot Poached in st Emilion, Pomme Puree, Braised Salsifis, baby Leeks, Civet sauce.

Me... not a fan of fish in red wine sauces, even Bouluds potato bass thing.

Felt the wine reduction overwhelmed the delicacy of the extremely fresh fish

Cannon of Lamb with Shoulder confit, Candied Onions,Artichokes and marjoram Jus.

Lamb dish again while not the most creative out there was stunning in flavor.

Yummy stuff.

Desserts

Slow Baked Quince, Creme Catalan,Acacia Honey.

Bitter Chocolate Tower, Coffee Granita, Ginger IC.

A cheese cart in the dining room.

At the end of the day, would I go back and actually pay for it, absolutely.

This will certainly strive to be among the top of the food chain in NYC.

As it stands, I predict a solid NYTimes 3 star in the formal room.

Edited to add:

Perhaps 4 stars based on Frankie "Flowers" Bruni's definition of creativity and ambition.

Hell on second thoughts, if Del posto can get 3 stars...why not.

Edited by Vadouvan (log)
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Shared the same menu as Vadouvan and came away with more or less the same impressions.

Decor: While not necessarily done in 'my style,' the find dining space is quite opulent. Nice china. Thumbs up for the swivel chairs. Plush carpet puts them in the running for four stars from the NYTimes (everyone knows that carpeting, and not food, determines four star reviews). Bathrooms were...interesting. Kind of felt like a cross between an ocean liner, a 747 and the changing rooms at your local banana republic.

Service: Quite professional, consistent and polished, especially seeing as how they are on day two of the soft opening. I was impressed by the attention to detail. Again, as V noted, they all seemed, by some inexplicable way, to be the same height. Bizarre.

Food: Nothing revelatory. Nothing groundbreaking. Everything, though, tasted really good. Amuse of butternut squash veloute was beyond reproach. Nice judicious hand with the truffle oil. Sweetbread appetizer with artichoke, cepe and sauce perigord was as it should be (a compliment). Langoustine and maple chicken appetizer was good, but not greater than the sum of its parts.

Turbot with sauce civet was good. Again, the fish seemed a little lost in the strength of the civet. Lamb was perfect. Perfect temp. Pefect jus. Perfect accent with the confited shoulder. All in all a great dish. Again, this didn't break any new ground, but it was executed as well as one could ask.

Desserts were pleasant, if not a little on the sweet side. All wine pairings were admirably selected and presented in impressive, albeit old-school, fashion. Decent selection of mignardises. Bonus points for the la colombe coffee. I would die if I were subjected to another dose of Illy pods in a fine dining establishment.

Overall I left incredibly impressed with my experience. It far exceeded my early expectations. There is always (in my mind) the worry that a big name chef is just mailing it in with expensive ventures abroad in new markets. My early meal at GR shows that Mr. Ramsay is taking this project fairly seriously. Definitely a welcome edition to the higher end of the NY dining spectrum.

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Do Nobu and Nobu Next Door share the kitchen? That would settle it for me...

Well there is a sub-level prep-kitchen and pastry kitchen connecting the two. Of course there is also alot of work done upstairs at the prepective lines by seperate line cooks.

The exec chef next door doesn't have the title of "exec" but he really is. The dailly specials are completely different and handled by two different chefs.

It feels like one restaurant up until service, though. The wait staffs even split shifts between nobu and next door. Everyone eats familly together.

The deciding factor might be the seperate licenses. I believe that officially makes it two seperate businesses.

...sorry, back to Ramsay...

Edited by Sethro (log)
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Food: Nothing revelatory. Nothing groundbreaking. Everything, though, tasted really good.

I have to say I agree, funny I came away from PerSe with the same impression, I would say the inevitable comparison, service was on par with PerSe and on point.

Thanks Murkury.

i owe you big time.

Cheers

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I have found websites asserting that they have the same kitchen but none that I would consider definitive.

If, in fact, they do share the same kitchen then I absolutely stand by the assertion that to list NY as having three Nobus is an error.

There are a lot of cases with a shared kitchen that are considered separate restaurants. And, to bring this back on topic, Ramsay's new place is one of them. This was quite clear when I called for a reservation, and the agent asked which of the two restaurants I wanted.
I will also note that people do not refer to Los Angeles as having two Nobus despite the presence of Ubon, and that NY was not referred to in guides as having two Nobus before the advent of Nobu 57.

Both the Times website and the Zagat Guide list Nobu and Next Door Nobu as separate restaurants, and I'm pretty sure they did so before Nobu 57 opened.
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Let's try to keep this topic on Gordon @ the London. While I understand the discussion and brief mention of Nobu in regards to the article, I think it is pretty safe to say we have beaten this horse sufficiently.

Feel free to continue Nobu discussions here.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Anyone foolish enough to open a restaurant in a hotel in new York City *will* have union issues.

It is always a detente relationship and frankly a buzzkill for independent restaurants.

I am sure Ramsay may prevail in that sense since I assume the name of the hotel changed from Rhiga Royal to The London....isnt that the case ?

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Vadouvan/Murkcury

How was the richness level of his foods you tasted? One of the things that I have heard is although the portions are small, his food tends to be on the richer side of things.

How about the portion size?

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Vadouvan - Definitely agree with the foolishness re opening in a hotel. But the Ramsay case may be even worse than most, in that, supposedly, all tips are reserved solely for union staff - not a dime for the so-called management.

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