Big Name chefs are pretty keen to put their names on things these days: chocolates, frying pans, even supermarkets’ Less so restaurants, and for good reason. If any old product with a chef’s name on it turns out to be unremarkable, who’s really going to care? But if it’s their ‘core’ business?
Gary Rhodes knows all about the dangers of putting his name above the door of restaurants that don’t really work out. Rhodes & Co – attached to a hotel in Manchester and a department store in Edinburgh – didn’t last long. Their closure was not one of this amiable chef’s finest moments. So, ‘once bitten’, you’d think he’d be pretty careful before rushing to put his name on the new brasserie of a rather curiously revamped hotel, by Marble Arch.
Presumably it would go without saying that ‘his’ brasserie would offer the thoroughly English food he’s famous for? Well there is some of that, but risotto and tiramisÃ¹ are not yet part of our culinary heritage. And – more importantly – real and gutsy cooking? No real ‘guts’ were apparent in the dishes we had (least of all in a spectacularly vapid black pudding salad). Is fashionable ‘respect’ shown for sourcing (English, of course)? Not much provenance is in evidence on the laminated and seemingly unchanging menu. English wines on the list? Just one, a sparkler. And so on. In short, this is just like any other anonymous hotel brasserie. And pricey too.
Perhaps it will be different for the ‘fine dining’ restaurant, to open later in the year. For the moment, though? Perhaps some people just never learn.