Newly refurbished (late 2022) and rebooted Gordon Ramsay pub (formlery The Narrow)
Gordon Ramsay has owned this site for several years as The Narrow pub (named after the street it resides on) and rebranded it as part of his Bread Street empire in late 2022 following a 4 month and total refurbishment. This included a brand new conservatory, fully refitted interior and new head chef with a revised menu (in line with the Bread St chain). I have been into this new version a few times now since the reboot and have spotted a trend with inconsistency of service (details below) although it is obviously still early(ish) days of the restaurant and new team; the Sunday roast itself on this occasion was good however, with some aspects needing to be tightened. For this visit and review, it appeared to me that in general, the staff were simply struggling to deal with the volume of customers. Sadly, I’m struggling to remember now when the last time was I had an excellent experience here overall. Still, the venue and view here is lovely and the new menu has numerous safe bet menu offerings, the look of which will appeal to many.
I had hoped to see how the prawn cocktail was but sadly this had sold out so I opted for the mushroom soup with ‘truffled’ creme fraiche. I use inverted commas as I could not smell any truffle whether it was genuine truffle shavings or synthetic truffle oil that was used. The mushroom soup itself had good flavour and umami in general, but I did think a little shame that Bread Street Kitchen have decided to not include a bread roll or anything breadlike to accompany the soup (something that I would say is as frankly synonymous as salt and pepper). Chicken wings were also had at the table which were good but quite heavy with a thick coating of batter in addition to the very sticky marinade all over – one or the other I think would be better here personally.
My main was the roast beef with the shame being that it was actually one hour and forty minutes before this arrived at the table. Apologies were given by the team and in the meantime, my Apple watch had notified me that the sound had reached 79dB which is nearly at the danger level of 80 for long-term exposure. This will tend to happen if you are in a hard-lined setting such as a conservatory, but without a shadow of doubt one of the loudest proponents of the restaurant came from the staff conversing with the tables (one very friendly but very vocal lad in particular). I mention this as it can impede dining for those that struggle to hear, so my mistake on this occasion was to choose this environment for my group and if likewise, you are looking for a quieter setting, select the ‘Boat house’ area at the far end of the restaurant rather than the conservatory. If you do decide the conservatory and all tables are taken, you need to prepare yourself whatever age you are for sometimes genuinely not being able to hear others at your table well.
Once the 1.4 hours had lapsed my roast Beef arrived, a little more cooked than the promised ‘pink’ that was offered when the order was taken, but very good nevertheless I’m delighted to confirm and there were certainly no issues with portion size. The gravy and whipped horseradish were both extremely good in consistency and flavour. A micro point is that the creamed horseradish was a tad in danger of being too creamy and could afford a little more ‘kick’ of horseradish perhaps. An extremely good sauce bearnaise to back everything up was also enjoyed to see what this was like. The roast potatoes, being a very important part of a traditional British roast were ok, but sadly lacked the utterly think crispiness and almost crumb-like texture of some roast potatoes that have been shaken and beaten more prior to cooking. The Yorkshire pudding was huge to its credit but a bit too hard all over for my preference without any of the fluffy or slightly squidgier interior/inner parts that is so often the best bit and treat of opting for the beef in getting this within a Yorkshire ‘pud’. I think even James Martin might be with me on this one even if Gordon would prefer to staple some Yorkshire puds on me with kitchen knives for saying so in this review.
The duck salad and pasta cannelloni that were also had by the table were reportedly fine and the dressing for the crispy aromatic duck (it appeared deep fried in its parts) was equally aromatic and pleasantly sweet as a dish. The gigantic disappointment however, for the whole table was the macaroni cheese side which had absolutely no flavour whatsoever. Salt and pepper were not on the table, as the restaurant had presumably decided there should be no need for them – usually this is the case, but only when the dishes are actually seasoned. I’m afraid it has been quite a long time since I have had something with such little and bland flavour (no hint of garlic crumbs either as outlined on the menu) and sodium chloride of ANY description was needed for this, which was duly provided when asked for. When the question from the staff was asked “how is everything” as one normally hears, the polite response of the macaroni being a huge disappointment was dealt with well and we were informed it would be taken off the bill. A short while later the bill was presented with the macaroni charge on – another area where I have spotted a trend with this venue (incorrect billing/charging) which is a very simply area to improve on.
However, a kind add-on touch from the staff was a birthday mini cake and candle from the kitchen to the table for the Birthday boy who kindly looked after the bill for this meal hence there being no photo of the receipt. The a la carte menu is available here and what is good to see is actually the set menu at 2 courses for £19.5o and 3 courses for £24 on weekdays. The signature gem of Beef Wellington, proudly lauded has not yet been done and is quite punchy at £52 per person, so I can only hope and predict the portion size of this may be two slices than one each and if it is, there will frankly be no need for a starter and possibly dessert, so I will come back to try that one evening and report back.
In all seriousness, I’m not having a dig at this place just for being a ‘Rasmsay target’ – if it was absolutely superb, trust me, I would say so, loud and clear, but it simply does have several things to refine. It is a beautiful spot and has been newly ‘decked out’ to the max and I do like the new, mini banquets and table furniture/feel of the place in general. It is also a very nice option for popping in for a drink in the small bar area as well, but please be aware service charge is added to your drinks bill even if you go up to the bar and order yourself if the staff are too stretched – something I don’t agree with at all and is up to you whether you wish to keep on or ask to remove in these circumstances. It is still in its first few months so I am hoping that by Spring this should be fully on top of things and that all food kinks are ironed out by then, because if they are, this would be a very good place. This restaurant refurb did not make an episode of 24hrs or Hell’s Kitchen, but I presume Mr Ramsay will be keen to see how On The River is in six month’s time as well just like any other rebirthed venue. I’ll be providing an update on here another time irrespective.
In short, worth a go, but based on my visits thus far, expectation management is required.
Food Grade: 62%