Ramsay's food too 'timid' for California's tastes
Tuesday 10 June 2008
He's done the hype and the star-studded celebrity opening party. Now Gordon Ramsay is experiencing the seemingly inevitable downside to one of his overseas restaurant openings: a critical backlash.
The Glaswegian chef and television personality's new Los Angeles restaurant at The London Hotel in West Hollywood, opened this week to a lukewarm reception from California's most feared food critic. Ramsay's food was "timid", he said.
Jonathan Gold, the famously influential LA Weekly columnist, who last year became the first food writer to win a Pulitzer Prize, described the interior of Mr Ramsay's new Hollywood restaurant as "kind of a steam-punk take on a Seventies disco lounge" and claimed the cod was "overcooked".
He did admire a couple of starters, but claimed: "Most of Ramsay's food is not just timid, but timid in a specifically Californian way, as if he were convinced that Angelenos were incapable of facing a meal without half-a-dozen raw-fish preparations seemingly inspired by an off night at Koi [restaurant]".
Gold concluded: "The restaurant is in its opening days, and the workings of the kitchen are obviously going to improve, but as the mastermind behind Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay might want to take a look at what's happening in the restaurant that bears his name". The roasting by local critics has become as much a signature of Ramsay's culinary empire as his creamed Jerusalem artichoke. The chef now boasts 19 restaurants around the world, with a combined nine Michelin stars.
His last major overseas launch, at the Trianon Palace Hotel in Versailles in January, was dismissed by François Simon of Le Figaro before it even opened. "Quite frankly, if I go to Versailles, I'd prefer to go to the local bistro," he said, calling the food "karaoke cuisine, or in the language of Gordon Ramsay, bullshit".
Despite the sour notes, the Ramsay commercial brand seems to be immune to damage, helped perhaps by the high profile of its leading man, who now juggles five television programmes in the UK and US.
In a canny PR move, Mr Ramsay also announced that the winner of his most recent US series of Hell's Kitchen will receive the senior sous-chef's role at the Los Angeles restaurant, together with a $250,000 (£127,000) salary.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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