Gordon Ramsay's first gastropub gets a makeover for Limehouse locals
I was reading an interview the other day with Mary Berry who was talking about British celebrity chefs. Now Mary Berry and her co-presenter Paul Hollywood are pretty damned famous themselves, but she was emphatic that they were mere pretenders to the King of celebrity chefs - Jamie Oliver.
Personally I have never really taken to Jamie Oliver’s pukka food style. To be pedantic, I think of him more as a cook than a chef. But the reality is that he has done a lot of great things in terms of raising awareness and helping change people’s diet in the UK. And he does television better than any of his peers with the possible exception of Nigella. But that makes him a great TV presenters rather than a great chef. Because a chef is someone who is lauded for doing things with food that no one else can; who takes dining and food experiences to a new level; and who is an innovator and an artist. In that context, there can be no doubt that the Alpha of British chefs is Gordon Ramsay.
Ramsay, like Jamie has his detractors. It’s argued that the quality of his output has been diluted through the number of restaurants he owns; his TV celebrity has gone to his head; and that his expletive ridden style is turning him into a caricature of himself. Whether you agree with this assessment or not, even his critics agree that the man can cook. I’ve yet to eat at the eponymous Gordon Ramsay restaurant, but I’m assured that it’s superb. His influence from his own television programmes through to his former wards such as Marcus Wareing and Jason Atherton has changed the way that Londoners dine. And the Narrow, his first and most famous foray into gastropubs is as good as any place for Ramsay novices, to start.
The Narrow is a former dockmasters house and indeed narrow. However with a conservatory that nearly sits on the Thames it’s a beautiful spot to take in the panoramic views across the Thames and picturesque City vista. The menu is classic Gordon Ramsay, as interpreted by his Head Chef Gerald Mirey. I started with the burrata di Puglia – the fresh Italian cheese that combines mozzarella with a cream centre and is served with tomatoes and olive oil. It was beautiful to look at though lacked a shade of seasoning to lift the dish from good to excellent. The lamb shoulder with spinach and a rich gravy was perfectly seasoned and wonderfully succulent. It was gorgeous. My lemon cheesecake to finish was well balanced in texture (crunch and cream) and taste (sharp and sweet) and the perfect finish. The accompanying wine pairings were well matched, and wallet friendly. The service was pitch perfect. The other diners were mostly couples visiting London for the Rugby World Cup, or Limehouse / Canary wharf locals after good food in a relaxed atmosphere.
It goes without saying that I didn’t see Mr. Ramsay himself at the Narrow. After all like most modern restauranteurs he is a busy man. And of course he is a celebrity. But he’s also a chef and a great one at that. And if you haven’t tried his cuisine yet, the Narrow is as good a place as any to start.
On a scale from * to *****
Wining and dining ***1/2
Serving and pouring ****
Boozing and schmoozing ****
The Narrow, 44 Narrow Street, London E14 8DP
020 7592 7950