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theo randall


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Has anyone read the A A Gill review of Theo Randall? Went there recently and was very underwhelmed (went off the back Jay Rayner's review!!!!)

I think that Gill's review is nearer the mark. The room ruins what Theo Randall is capable of producing.

I predict it will only be a matter of time before the whole intercontinental/Randall relationship ends in tears.

Please Theo do an Arbutus/Anchor and Hope type product to really show off your cooking.

At those prices and with the bland corporate feel of the dining room the restaurant is a sitting duck for criticism.

Matt Christmas.

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I read the review, personally I thought the food was good (Brief review here)and the room was awful. Most of the news I have heard suggest that the vast space is not often full ,that's not to say they aren't doing a reasonablle number of covers, just that the room is awful and large.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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personally, I disagree vermently!!

I thought the food was bloody brilliant. the room less so, but the food was great.

how on earth can the room ruin what Randall is capable of? how does the room, impact on the quality of ingredient or the technique in execution?

the room is not full, because they have not yet opened it all. they are taking a maximum of 60 covers, when the room can hold 140. apparently they are heavily in soft opening mode still. waiting until the brigade is fully up-to-snuff.

nor do I think the prices are too high. £25 for a perfect piece of turbot, nothing wrong there.

besides, when AA Gill become a food writer? :raz:

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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I also had a very good meal there during Christmas and New Year. Flavours were well balanced and interesting, quality of ingredient were high, and overally I thought the value was good. I was not blown away by the room, but neither did it offend me. I don;t think I would be as effusive as Jay, but at the same time I would go back, although it wouldn't be top of my list.

Also met Theo and had a nice chat with him and tyour of the kitchens - he is a charming guy and really passionate about what he does.

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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Ok, point taken about aa gill, he was just the last person to review and i was using him more as an example rather than citing him as an authority.

The room has everything to do with the food, you are sitting in it! If you were under the arches on a freezing cold night would you still enjoy it?

Secondly the food was totally underwhelming and i think that the prices, surely you have to agree pretty high, and the room make you judge the food more intently.

I think just judging the food is encouraging chef patrons whose only real priority is the food when all the other parts of the dinner fall into second place.

Matt Christmas.

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Incidentally also met Theo and agree totally that he is a really top guy, just thhink his food would be more suited to a casual dining experience.

Also rumoured to have sent all the critics an olive tree and olive oil, Chefsimon take note!!! :biggrin:

Matt Christmas.

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Ok, point taken about aa gill, he was just the last person to review and i was using him more as an example rather than citing him as an authority.

The room has everything to do with the food, you are sitting in it!  If you were under the arches on a freezing cold night would you still enjoy it?

Secondly the food was totally underwhelming and i think that the prices, surely you have to agree pretty high, and the room make you judge the food more intently.

I think just judging the food is encouraging chef patrons whose only real priority is the food when all the other parts of the dinner fall into second place.

Out of interest do you enjoy the River Cafe? The food is virtually identical.

Gills review was pretty awful and misleading as well.

A lot of people have told me to come here, because the kitchen has been taken over by someone — coincidentally called Theo Randall — who recently worked at the River Café, where he was beloved.

Well "recently worked at the River Cafe" actually translates as working there for 15 years, being head chef and a partner in the business(TRC has been open 19 or 20 from memory).

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Ok, point taken about aa gill, he was just the last person to review and i was using him more as an example rather than citing him as an authority.

no, you were using him because he corresponded with your view. nothing wrong with that.

The room has everything to do with the food, you are sitting in it!  If you were under the arches on a freezing cold night would you still enjoy it?

your example, again fails to make a link between the room and the food. in your example, if you had a draft you most certainly would not enjoy the food as much - but of course you have realised that is not the fault of the food? :laugh:

Secondly the food was totally underwhelming and i think that the prices, surely you have to agree pretty high, and the room make you judge the food more intently. 

no, I disagree on all levels. the food was not underwhelming in my opinion at all, far from it. the prices were very reasonable for the offering, I gather you've not been to the river cafe? £50 for 4 courses with that sort of ingredient and technical proficiency is not excessive in any shape or form. the room wasn't ideal, I grant you - but it wasn't a car crash either. for me the problem is that room does not match the food: which is a rustic, homely cuisine, executed flawlessly in a dark, sharp, modern setting. the room is not, of itself, a great problem rather it is inappropriate.

I think just judging the food is encouraging chef patrons whose only real priority is the food when all the other parts of the dinner fall into second place.

that would be fine, if there was agreement that all other elements did fall into second place. :biggrin:

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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I enjoyed my meal there and Theo seemed a jolly nice chap, keen to show me his wood-burning oven he'd had installed. The room is the room, it's what you get in hotels, but it seemed buzzy to me with a lot of laughter bouncing off the walls and a pretty good atmosphere.

I wouldn't go as far as Rayner in my praise. but it was a fine antidote to the over fine dining offered elsewhere. The German red wine recommended was a bit of a treat, too.

I have never eaten in the River Cafe due to a deep antipathy towards the two women as seen on TV - one an appalling snob and one giving every impression of being permanently stoned - so I can't comment or compare.

I hope Randall does well, but historically the Hotel dining room is indeed a tough one to make successful. Let's not make it any harder for him eh?

S

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I wasn't for one moment suggesting that the food cannot be top notch i actually said that the food that I ate was underwhelming, are you suggesting that your meal is representative of all meals served in that restaurant?

I do like the river cafe very much (although on the pricey side, but that is their perogative, and not as consistent as i think it should be considering it holds a michelin star - but that is more down to michelin than the river cafe, another day for that one)

£50 for four courses is not representative, mine was more in the region of £65, although i did eat on the more expensive side of the menu.

I totally agree that the room doesn't match the food, that was exactly my point, it is a restaurant, it consists of a room where you are served food and wine, they are inextricably linked, hence the room doesn't do the room any justice.

Matt Christmas.

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I wasn't for one moment suggesting that the food cannot be top notch i actually said that the food that I ate was underwhelming, are you suggesting that your meal is representative of all meals served in that restaurant?

yes I do, mostly by referring to experiences of others I know who have been there, plus critics I respect. and yes, I do think you were inferring, rather explicitly that the food cannot be top notch. that's my only real issue.

I do like the river cafe very much (although on the pricey side, but that is their perogative, and not as consistent as i think it should be considering it holds a michelin star - but that is more down to michelin than the river cafe, another day for that one) 

well seeing as the river cafe is more expensive, not sure how you can see it is justified and their perogative, when the bloke behind it all these years charges less in his custom built environs. His kitchen is bigger than the river cafe dining area! lol :wink:

£50 for four courses is not representative, mine was more in the region of £65, although i did eat on the more expensive side of the menu.

really - are you sure?

http://www.theorandall.com/menu/dinner_menu.html

the most expensive antipasti is £10

the most expensive pasta is £9

the most expensive main is £26

the most expensive dessert is £8

which is the same menu I ate from, which makes the maximum 4 course option £53 - so you'll forgive me if i'm a little unsure about your recollections.

I totally agree that the room doesn't match the food, that was exactly my point, it is a restaurant, it consists of a room where you are served food and wine, they are inextricably linked, hence the room doesn't do the room any justice.

I'm sure you meant the room does not do the food any justice...

which is fine, but originally it seemed as if you were saying the room somehow affected the quality of the food, as opposed to your enjoyment of it.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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River cafe prices- certainly not justified! i didn't say that. Their perogative because they are full and can charge what they like.

Admittedly i had a white truffle taglierini which was £21, only slightly misleading.

I have obviously hit a nerve since you seem to be defending this particular restaurant so vehemently, i am pleased to hear that he has his fans. It does seem to me that we agree on several points.

But Enjoyment/quality of food for me almost the same thing especially if some part of the restaurant itself is controlling my enjoyment of it, in this case the room. There are some restaurants where i think the quality of cooking is of an exceptional standard, it doesn't follow that they offer an enjoyable eating experience.

Still, some of the food i ate was under par, obviously it is possible i went on a bad day but that is the only point of reference i have.

Matt Christmas.

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River cafe prices- certainly not justified! i didn't say that.  Their perogative because they are full and can charge what they like.

Admittedly i had a white truffle taglierini which was £21, only slightly misleading.

I have obviously hit a nerve since you seem to be defending this particular restaurant so vehemently, i am pleased to hear that he has his fans. It does seem to me that we agree on several points. 

But Enjoyment/quality of food for me almost the same thing especially if some part of the restaurant itself is controlling my enjoyment of it, in this case the room.  There are some restaurants where i think the quality of cooking is of an exceptional standard, it doesn't follow that they offer an enjoyable eating experience.

Still, some of the food i ate was under par, obviously it is possible i went on a bad day but that is the only point of reference i have.

sorry Matt,

I don't disagree with your opinion or your right to it - merely some of the earlier, quite ludicrous assertions. most of which you have now thankfully distanced yourself from.

though I note, you've still not explained what your criticisms of the food actually were, other than the room they were served in! :laugh:

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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Right, the food: a squid saute with chilli and garlic and anchovy, not a touch on the river cafe and quite bland, no kick of chilli or anchovy, all the assertive flavours dumped in the middle and quite a small portion. Taglierini with white truffle (5g) very good pasta, underseasoned, too much pasta for truffle, so i added some salt, ate half the pasta and saved the truffle for the other half, that was nice. Veal chop with braised fennel, bland fennel, three chops on the table all cooked to different degrees of doneness. Desserts, got offered them all as a selection, got four tarts on a plate two of which were the same, had to ask for a taste of the rest of the desserts (ok a service error but annoying all the same) the only dessert which shone was the panna cotta. the tarts were ok but nothing special.

Also had cheese, selection of six, four were announced, two were mumbled so we asked a passing manager to identify and he had to go and find out, and then got one wrong (selun he said was from france, actually from swizterland), this also not the fault of the kitchen but part of the food all the same, all cheeses in good nick.

Matt Christmas.

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Gills review was pretty awful and misleading as well.
A lot of people have told me to come here, because the kitchen has been taken over by someone — coincidentally called Theo Randall — who recently worked at the River Café, where he was beloved.

Well "recently worked at the River Cafe" actually translates as working there for 15 years, being head chef and a partner in the business(TRC has been open 19 or 20 from memory).

Matt, I think that might have been a joke, or at least part of one. The clue was that the surrounding paragraphs were funny.

I'm afraid I can't offer a first-hand opinion, as I've never been a fan of the River Cafe's superannuated rendering of Italian peasant food. It reminds me too much of Marie Antoinette, walking around her de-shitified toy farm with a sheep on a pink silk bow. Also, I vowed long ago not to spend another moment in some beige room in Park Lane, feelng guilty for the half a dozen glum American couples, one of whom always seems to be trying to supress thoughts about the greenback value of their draughty room, lumpy bed and anaemic steak. These two factors in combination make TR at the ICH perhaps London's least attractive dining experience of the moment.

Edited by naebody (log)
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  • 1 year later...

Only a few covers at lunch yesterday, but the set menu here is one of London's best current bargains at £25 for three courses. Unimpeachable tagliatelle, as good as can be found in London, with beautifully judged porcini and mushroom sauce, roasted skate with vegetables, vanilla ice cream with espresso may not read very excitingly but it was all exactly as it should have been and deeply pleasing. The service is well-meaning though not exceptionally smooth, and the room is typical modern palace hotel dining room. The only jarring note is the awful muzak, which really needs to be turned off.

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  • 1 month later...

Theo Randall - Feb 09

We plumped for the early evening set menu - £21 for two courses & £25. Well, we actually didn't get offered the grown-up menus to see what else was on offer but that was OK - the cheap meal looked OK. We arrived promptly at 6, given the menu then suitably ignored for half an hour. No wine for 1/2 hour - zoiks! (there were only a couple of other tables - guess the staff were too busy having a good laugh at the end of the bar - I think they thought they were out of sight)

Pre-starter of grilled bread and crushed tomatoes was interesting & wonderfully indelicate: couple of large doorsteps - fairly satisfying.

The antipasti looked uninteresting so we went for ravioli and handmade tagliatelle. he ravioli had a green (dunno what) filling with a hint of mint & sage but was a little too lukewarm my liking. The tagliatelle came with an ok tomato & mushroom sauce - a bit bland and lacked seasoning - v little mushroom.

Secondi was beef and chicken. The sirloin was char-grilled and covered with rocket - we joked about - where's the beef. but it was quite lovely. My chicken came with lentils and chard but no flavour - none, zip, nil. It wasn't horrible - bu neither was it enjoyable.

Bread was promised but never appeared.

So - overall - terrible terrible service and only one reasonable dish out of 4. Not a good impression. The MD finally swanned over asking how everything was. She did a double take when I said not good. She kind of lost it then not quite knowing how to deal with us. "Theo will be upset" she said. "why they f**k isn't he here" I thought (I am getting better censoring my thoughts before announcing them). I did say something about it being the cheap meal which, thankfully, she said should not make a bit of difference. I agree - I love to see a chef take simpler ingredients and make them sing - Theo seems to have a knack for making them cry.

Poor show

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Update

Got a call from the MD inviting us back - we pay for starter & main - they look after the rest inc champagne on arrival, wine & Theo promises to do something special for dessert.

quite sweet really.

T

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  • 2 months later...

Theo randall – the rematch

To be frank – we really weren’t looking forward to this and found it very hard to bring up any enthusiasm. Anyway we were shown to an end table which had a great view of the restaurant. Muzack was playing in the background but thankfully they switched it off as the pace filled up.

It’s a good menu with lots of interesting combinations and i found it satisfyingly hard to pick as there was quite a lot i wanted. So we decided to start by splitting anti-pasta of scallops and lentils which they kindly plated separately for us. Also chosen in part because the waitress said the scallops were particularly plump . Well – I was a bit disappointed – i was expecting a master of the universe sized scallops of the kind DEM serves at LeCS – what were substantially smaller. Also, it wasn’t quite cooked through and for much of the meal I was left playing tongue tug of war with scallop strings stuck in my teeth. It tasted fine – lentils cut with a little chilli and parsley – but just OK.

Next we had pasta – i went for crab & fennel - fpic went for brown shrimp pasta – a favourite of hers. My crab was a delicate and lovely marriage of flavours - very enjoyable. The brown shrimp pasta however was saturated with a butter sauce and not in a good way – quite cloying – needed a serious dash of acid to help balance it.

For secondi i went for roast monkfish with pancetta and baby artichoke – a good dish – the artichokes particularly wonderful. Fpic went for roast sea bass which came with some roast tomatoes, asparagus and some green “things” which we couldn’t quite work out – looked like samphire but thought not as didn’t think it was in season yet. The bass was definitely the star of the meal – cooked and seasoned to perfection and complemented so well by the sweet roast tomatoes.

We were pretty stuffy by now but went for desserts any way. I had a fabulously soft chocolate cake with some cream (mascarpone?) – very indulgent and sinful. Fpic went for blood orange sorbet which was incredibly refreshing – quite luxurious.

We were give some champagne when we arrived and a bottle of wine plus desserts on the house – they ever brought us another glass when we ran dry which was quite sweet of them. Service was very good and the food was so much better than last time which was just as well as theo was in the kitchen. However, i can’t honestly say it was a memorable meal or that i enjoyed it all that much – all the ingredients were finely cooked etc. but it was fairly forgettable. The room is in that “international anonymous” style – so you could in any hotel restaurant in any city of the world.

The food came to just over £50 each – if we had to pay for wine & desserts too, well, I really don’t I would have all that happy to part with £80-90 each for a meal here. There are far too many interesting places elsewhere

(sorry - fpic: food partner in crime)

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  So we decided to start by splitting anti-pasta of scallops and lentils which they kindly plated separately for us.  Also chosen in part because the waitress said the scallops were particularly plump .  Well – I was a bit disappointed – i was expecting a master of the universe sized scallops of the kind DEM serves at LeCS – what were substantially smaller.  Also, it wasn’t quite cooked through and for much of the meal I was left playing tongue tug of war with scallop strings stuck in my teeth. 

Perhaps Theo comes from the school of thought that Scallops shouldn't be cooked through?

I was always taught that Scallops should be soft and mallow-like inside and gloriously seared out, giving a wonderful contrast of flavour and texture. Unless we're talking sashimi of course; scallops only hours out of the sea, thinly sliced and barely dressed are also a thing of beauty.

Edited by Ross Boyce (log)
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