It must be hard being Gordon Ramsay. Filming in California one minute. Establishing a flagship NYC restaurant the next. And all the while: maintaining standards at his London restaurant empire; servicing a demanding media profile, on both side of the Pond; and even running the odd marathon.
Oh, and now establishing a gastropub empire too, the first of which is at these new Limehouse premises (where the sign, a hang-over from a former regime, still says: “The Narrow Street Pub & Dining Room”). ‘Gastropub’ is, however, a forbidden term. This, we are officially told, is just a pub which does good food.
Well, initial impressions are certainly favourable. This is a handsome and understated riverside building. It has good outside space and impressive views. And the affable staff try hard, too.
If you just drop in though, you’ll probably find the small river-view dining room – with its short and homely English menu – all booked up. And, no, you can’t sample the full range of dining room fare in the bar because it’s “early days”, and they’re “very anxious to get the standards right ” (“with the critics coming in”). Soon, they hope it will be “more relaxed”, and you may – just ‘may’, mind – be allowed, for example, to sample a restaurant-menu pudding in the bar.
So, when it does get “more relaxed”, what are the standards going to be like? Like so many Ramsay spin-offs, good but not memorable, if our early sampling of the bar fare – a very restricted selection mainly from the restaurant menu, itself very short – is any indication. But that’s not the big question – even if they do keep standards up, and prices down, how is a place on such a modest scale going to make any real contribution to the swelling Ramsay coffers?