All reader reviews by ballard

The Narrow by Gordon Ramsay

Well, Mr Ramsay, I like and respect you, and I have previously had nothing but good experiences in your restaurants. However, your latest culinary venture, into the East End of London is so spectacularly wide of the mark, that I wonder if your reputation isn't about to sustain a major blow.

Let me start with why I was persuaded to write this review. It was, in fact, suggested that I let you know what I thought of The Narrow by one of your own staff. I went there on Easter Sunday, a beautifully warm day as you will remember. There was a free table outside but we were not allowed to sit there as it was out of the 'specified area.' The free table was approximately 2 metres outside the specified area but your waiter would not budge. I protested that the approach was a little inflexible to which he told me that 'I should take it up with Gordon Ramsay.' So here goes Mr Ramsay.

Now sat inside, we embarked on what can only be described as distinctly average and, on occasion, bordering on poor food. The problem with opening what is basically an East End theme pub in the East End is that there are so many places that do superior and authentic versions of the dishes that The Narrow serves. The salt beef is a travesty compared with the salt beef bagel from the Brick Lane bagel shop (which manages service twice as polite as The Narrow even though they work 24hours a day, 365 days a year!). The Welsh Rabbit is sloppy and tasteless compared to Sweetings restaurant in the City of London. The lamb steak might as well be attached to fabric uppers and sold in Spitalifields market on a Sunday. Mr Kipling more than matches the Bakewell Tart, exceedingly good cake it ain't. The pea and ham soup was average at best but how difficult is that to get right? The Grapes a few doors down the road does roast dinners and fish that is ten times as good.

All of which begs an important question. What exactly is the point of The Narrow? What is the purpose behind this extension of the Ramsay empire? Bringing mediocre East End fare to the East End is like bringing damp coals to Newcastle. It can only be concluded that the answer is in the question. It is about the Ramsay empire rather than culinary enlightenment. I'm afraid that the East End has proved to be death valley for celebrity chefs. Jamie Oliver's unforgiveably over-priced Fifteen should have served as a warning to Mr Ramsay but it is a warning that he did not heed. He is the real deal where Mr Oliver is not and that makes it even more disgraceful.

So what is next: a Ramsay curry house on Brick Lane, a pie and mash shop on Bethnal Green Road, a Vietnamese restaurant on Kingsland Road, a chop house in the City? Whatever it is, let's be honest, that Ramsay is now a brand rather than the guarantee of fine cuisine. There, my waiter should now be happy, I've taken it up with Mr Ramsay.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 3 | Service 0 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 4


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