The name Gordon Ramsay brings certain things to mind. Most of them involve expletives. As we arrived at The Narrow in Limehouse, I was half expecting to see a small chef run from the kitchen in tears after enduring an angry tirade from the man himself. Unfortunately nothing that exciting happened, unless you count the barman/waiter smelling strongly of body odour as excitement. I guess there was a vague air of intrigue coursing through the group when we initially couldn’t detect the source of the smell, nothing verging on excitement though. As with many of these celebrity chef run pubs, you sometimes wonder if they have been forgotten amongst the many, many other enterprises, franchises etc. Surely if Ramsay was in residence he would have publicly humiliated said stinky waiter. Anyway, now that we’ve covered aroma, let’s move onto the grub.
The menu was typical gastropub fare with a Ramsay twist. The corned beef hash comes not with a fried egg but a pan-fried egg. All the classics were there, fish and chips, bangers and mash etc. There were a few more daring choices, devilled lamb’s kidneys and crab on toast showed a bit more flair than your average pub menu. Amongst our group, we settled in with pints of Guinness and an Italian white wine which we paid £31 for; and a few days later, I saw the same wine for a horrifyingly low £15 in a different pub. I’d been robbed! But I didn’t know it yet.
After choosing our food, we relaxed into the low slung sofa’s and I started to take in our surroundings. It was all perfectly pleasant, slate floors, pale walls, modern looking bar. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, it was pitch perfect gastropub decor. However, there was nothing that made me want to stay there all day and curl up in those couches.
I had ordered slightly strangely as I wanted something fresh and light after indulging during a wonderfully gluttonous festive season. And so, my salt water prawn and apple cocktail and my caesar salad arrived in front of me; in frustratingly small bowls. The caesar salad was a side dish, so I will just about forgive the choice of receptacle but the prawn cocktail was a dish in its own right and was a bugger to eat out of sensibly. The salad was light and fresh and the small prawns were juicy, the inclusion of apple in this dish was a welcome introduction to the old classic. Very satisfying and gone in a second. The caesar salad was a bit stingy for £6, being that it comprised cos lettuce, 2 anchovies and about 5g of Parmesan. Although the dressing was nice, it tasted more like garlic aioli than caesar dressing.
Mr T ordered bangers and mash, which again was a bit lacklustre. It was very simply, bangers, mash and gravy and the bangers looked like sorry little excuses for sausages, they had that dry, shrivelled look. And they didn’t taste much better. Decidedly average. When I asked my friend how his burger was (and he counts himself as a burger aficionado), he gave it 6 out of 10. As we discussed the burger, he decided to up his score to 6.5 but I think that might have just been the nice guy in him kicking in and not wanting to be mean.
So, we left the pub on a dreary Friday afternoon after a rather dreary food experience, our wallets a little lighter and our opinions of Mr Ramsay a little lower. As my school reports always used to say, must try harder.