Just off Regent Street, a handy brasserie-style operation serving thoroughly competent but rather unremarkable dishes at prices seemingly inflated by association with proprietor Gordon Ramsay.
You never quite know what to expect at a Gordon Ramsay establishment. Within a mile or so of each other, you can have places which are very good (Pétrus, say), and places which are mediocre (Foxtrot Oscar). It’s one of the mysteries of the celebrity-chefdom lark that these famous ‘brands’ have transcended the need to offer any particular level of quality or consistency. Aren’t brands supposed to have brand values?
Gordon’s latest outpost, we were told, was to be a bit like Bread Street (of the City of London, and now HK). Fortunately, it isn’t really. Occupying a congenial space just off Regent Street, once a branch of Piccolino, it’s a much more intimate affair than the echoey and under-charged City operation. Technically we’re in Mayfair, but spiritually not: Savile Row may be just around a couple of corners, but its hand-worked threads are not sported by the punters here.
If you’re looking for similarities with Bread Street, though, glance at the menu. The first thing you notice is that simplicity is not the order of the day, in the sense that many dishes need a sentence to describe them, rather than a phrase. The second thing you notice is that even when dishes sound as if you could do this at home, they come with impressive prices. A rib-eye steak, for example, is £34, Mutton pie £21. Our simple lunch, for one, making economical choices for each of three courses, with a glass of wine and an espresso, came to £55.
The food is not bad. Bread rolls have good taste and texture. A tuna tartare was nicely piquant. The ‘cuisson’ of the sea bream (“with smoked aubergine, savoy cabbage, Castelluccio lentils and roast pumpkin”) was well enough judged, but finishing the dish was ultimately a bit of a chore. Perhaps a bit of crunch somewhere would not have gone amiss. The pear tart – the pudding most strongly recommended – was entirely as described, with no particular refinement or point of difference from a competent deli, and coffee likewise. The dishes came and went quickly: this is not really food to linger over.
So nothing particularly to criticise then, and nothing particularly to celebrate either. Perhaps, in an establishment where a couple could so easily spend £150 and up, one could hope for a little more? But at least you could be in and out within an hour, no problem.