Camden hotel - restaurant - pub concept owned by Gordon Ramsay
I’m sure this is a very nice hotel to stay in. However, this was a calamity of a lunch and the first time I have had to give an ultimatum to any staff after a 45 minute wait for the starter (having already chased it) in that we simply had to go if it was not brought out within 5 minutes. It just about was after I said this, but the products were only so so and it seems to be taking full advantage of the group name. I would be fascinated to see what Gordon Ramsay himself would have to say about waiting this long for just the starter if he was visiting on one of his kitchen nightmare episodes. Perhaps he would have walked out? Anyway, sadly this does not constitute a place worthy of the name and as far as I can tell, is riding on the wave of the brand without producing the goods in food quality, value for money or professional service.
My first raised eyebrows of this visit came when I saw that the bread was chargeable at £3.50. Must be pretty good homemade bread you would think yes? No. Charging for bread that is practically a given for any restaurant, grates me as the vast majority of restaurants do not do this and that includes the ones that are producing themselves some of the best bread you can get. On asking whether the bread is made on-site the answer was no and that basically makes a bit of a mockery of why it is being charged in this way as there are no additional overheads for making it.
After the meal had finally arrived we had our starters. Chicken wings were served with a tamarind sauce and coriander cress and whilst the tamarind sauce was actually quite good, it was a tad too gloopy at the same time. Baby squid was honest pub food and not too rubbery as far as squid goes but the batter was scant nowhere near the levels it can be obtained at say Hakkasan. However, the chilli and coriander mayonnaise was a good touch.
Steamed seabream with sprouting broccoli, black olives and datterini tomato salsa was ok, but neither of us could detect any form of salsa, just the tomatoes cut in half with scant juices from these and the olives. I’m not sure they were datterini tomatoes as these have a distinct, elongated shape rather like dates which they get their name from and these appeared circular and more like cherry tomatoes. No massive bother if this is the case, but if this is the case, why are they not serving what is advertised?
I opted for the steak sandwich as it was designed to be a quick and pub-like lunch and this was served with garlic mustard mayo and caramelised onions. This was fine and even though a steak sandwich is just a sandwich, I felt it could have been better. The unidentified cut of beef was quite tough and the combination of caramelised onions and garlic mayo made the fillings too stodgy to really notice any beef flavour. Obviously there is a mark up to everything and quality cuts of meat, but even this set menu at £19 for 2 courses rivals how some very good establishments charge on a set menu and this seems too high for the grade of food being served.
If the wait was long, then sadly the service during the lunch was not much better. Water was not brought to the table on request which needed to be reminded twice (this is basic and shouldn’t really have to be asked for) and conversely, a wrong dish was brought to the table. You would have thought that given theses things and the huge delay at the start that the staff would have taken off the ‘optional’ service charge at the end, but noooo way baby, service charge still added. We were actually in such a rush at the end that we didn’t bother to ask for this to be removed in fear there would be an even longer hold up. Again, more professional staff would have perhaps smelt the dynamics here and removed it, letting us decide. No such luck as it is confirmed it is simply not that kind of place.
Basically this was nothing short of a train wreck. However, to the venue’s credit, the manager came over at the end to ask for feedback and she gained pretty much all of the salient points above for the meal quickly and politely but in no unmistaken terms. The manager listened and was grateful for the points saying that these were being taken on board and would be attended to which I thought was absolutely to her credit. Hopefully, this has happened for the sake of future diners.
I haven’t been back for food since, but on a miscellaneous note, I have popped in on another occasion which I have only just remembered as a result of writing this review. I happened to be passing at 10:45 pm one mid-week night at the end of a long day and fancied a last orders drink with a friend. On entering we were both told immediately that they were closed. Eh? It’s advertised hours on the website are until 12am Mon – Thurs and 1am on Fridays for info and any pub/bar does last orders at 11 pm, so for a Wed night this was a bit of a surprise. I asked what the opening hours were and the response was simply “It’s not busy so we’re closing”. Alright, well if we’re an inconvenience to your business and actual trading hours then we’ll leave, sorry to disturb. I am aware that a business can open and close when it wants to, but this just wreaked of bored staff who were either not supervised and wanted to go home early or a manager that was fed up and felt the same on a cold, dark night and sent away potential business that could have come back and this frankly just doesn’t give a very warm or professional image.
Sadly, that pretty much paints the picture I now have of this venue. It looks lovely, has Gordon Ramsay’s name overbearing it, but has staff and products that I believe are in need of a revisit and considerable overhaul by their actual patron, or, a reduction in price and service charge at the current speed.
Food Grade: 54%
Location (Click google logo for directions)