Update: Gordon Ramsey’s Restaurants here, and in NYC are closed.
Would Gordon Ramsay eat at his own restaurant? I think not.
A couple of weeks ago, I followed my wife on a work trip to Los Angeles. I had never been, but with my Celtic’s Beat L.A. shirt packed, I was ready for adventure. It wasn’t nearly what I thought it was. Where we were staying (Omni Hotel), there was almost no one. If a lot of people lived in LA, it wasn’t the part of the town we were in. Anyway, while there, we went to three restaurants with price tags that I’d say put them in “the high end” – at least in the high end of what you’d expect to read here. I’d like to review them for you in case you ever have the chance to try them.
Gordon Ramsay at the London Review
It was my wife’s and my anniversary, so we went with a name we trusted – Gordon Ramsay. Saturday and Sunday’s we often watch the British version of his Kitchen Nightmare’s show on BBC. I’ve never watched Hell’s Kitchen or the American version… for some reason they seemed to gimmicky. And the British version has the naughty language. If I’m going to watch someone get mad, give me the full effect, not just beeps. This is why I think Jerry Springer should have an HBO or Showtime version.
Walking into Gordon Ramsay at the London we realized that we were going to a posh place. Posh places often make me uncomfortable – I feel like I might say or do the wrong thing. The hostess showed us to our table. The table was a booth that was designed for a party of 4 or 6. This would have been great, but there were two tables squeezed next to each other and one was already occupied. The other two diners were a couple of college-aged guys in sneakers and jeans. We looked around the restaurant and there was plenty of seating that would have been more romantic (since they knew it was our first anniversary). I should have asked to be moved and that was my mistake.
As for the food, we were warned that the portions were small – people generally order one starter and one main dish or make a meal of three starters. (They weren’t called starters, but you get the idea.) Each starter is around $20 and the main dishes are around $35. I had a tomato and mozzarella starter which consisted of about four cherry tomatoes and similarly sized cheese. I followed that up with the Filet Mignon/Kobe beef entree. This had a small piece of Filet Mignon (about 5 bites worth) and a 2 inch by one inch piece of Kobe beef. There was a potato involved as well, but it was smaller than an egg. The Kobe beef was by far the best meat I’ve ever had. I cut it with my fork and it melted in my mouth – no chewing required. My wife’s dinner was similarly small.
Gordon Ramsay’s was good enough to surprise us with desert… a Cadbury Creme Egg size of ice cream on a plate with Happy Anniversary written in chocolate sauce. By this time, I was annoyed with the amount of food and money we were spending (sometimes it’s hard to get out of frugal mode). My wife had a headache from the two guys loudly talking on top of us. We ended up rushing out of there after spending $160 looking for another place to eat. We left a complaint on the way out. They took our phone number and said they’d call, but never did.
Noe Restuarant Review
After the Gordon Ramsay debacle, we went to the Noe Restaurant. We had read that this is one of the better dessert places and it was in our hotel, so we figured we’d go back there. My wife really wanted to try their ice cream burgers. I love the idea of ice cream burgers, but these had coconut in them – something that I only tolerate in small quantities. Looking at the dessert menu, everything had coconut in it. My wife says that the ice cream burgers were good (I tried them and couldn’t agree), but that they were small. I liked the lavender martini (that sounds about 532% more girly typing it now than it did when I ordered it.)
After dessert, I wanted to find a place that had real food, but we were literally two minutes late for anything in walking distance. It was either pay another $25 for an entree at Noe, get the car out of our hotel’s valet (waiting and more tipping), or just calling it night. I decided to just call it a night, but not before I had taken my shoe off and thrown it on the ground in frustration. I don’t know if anyone saw it, but if they did, I imagine it would have been funny.
We did find two great places to eat in Los Angeles, Mastro’s Steakhouse and Fogo De Chao… however it’s time to get to the links:
- Have you ever made a purchase you don’t really need, but got it anyway? Lost money: how money drains add up to $175,000 in 10 years by Digerati Life puts things in perspective on several common items that we buy and how they drain our finances.
- Generation X Finance writes How to tell if you have a bad 401k plan . After reading this you will have a better idea on what to look out for.
- Going along with Digerati Life’s post (see above) this post from the Sun’s Financial Times is on the similar topic of spending money on frivolous items. Read did you splurge? for a closer look at spending habits.
- Brip Blap asks what would you do if you had less than three weeks to live ?
- Biotech Investing – a beginner’s guide to biotechnology investments by Money Smart Life is just one of a series of posts on biotechnology this week.
- Over at Million Dollar Journey there’s a good post for those not already in the know with how stock margin works – the basics .
- Thinking of starting an investment club? Writing bylaws for your investment club by My Dollar Plan can help you get started.
From outside the money writers:
- No Credit Needed posts medical data and social security numbers exposed by insurance company , a great way to have your identity stolen.
- Five ways to save on a honeymoon posted by Free Money Finance has some excellent tips for the newlyweds.
- Identify, defend against upselling & cross-selling this week at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity is a look at common tactics by sales reps to make you spend more.
Interesting review! We ate at Ramsay’s place at the Ritz Carlton just outside Dublin and left unimpressed (and significantly, significantly lighter in the wallet). But I don’t think we’re white-glove-service sorta people. I agree you should have asked to be moved, I’m sure they would have accommodated you.
Early Retirement Extreme says
I was once stuck at a conference in the middle of nowhere at a castle known for its fancy (and only!) restaurant. Meals were similarly small. After two days people were starving and started filling their pockets with apples and cookies during the coffee breaks just so they would not have to go to bed hungry. The food was good though, but these restaurants are not for sustenance but rather to sample tastes and show off the skill of the kitchen (and the budget for ingredients).
You should have asked for restaurant recommendations from your readers. I doubt I’m the only LA native who reads your blog(s) regularly.
Lazy Man says
I usually do, but since this had personal meaning to us (we like his show) and seemed to fit the bill, we figured we’d be adventurous.
I have a couple of friends who have spent significant time in LA and I didn’t even think to ask them.
wow…that really sucks! i would’ve been rather unimpressed and frustrated, myself. :(
Alex K says
The shoe throwing description made me laugh out loud. Some great writing here!
Bill Davis says
Two hilarious notes — the lavender martini and the shoe-throwing! My wife and I have a tradition: Ruth’s Chris for our anniversaries. We’ve been to one every year for the last 8 years. We’ve been happy most of the time, the portion sizes are generous (we try not to eat too much before the steak because we just can’t eat that much food), and it’s the best steak, time after time, we’ve ever had. Their kobe beef is the best I’ve ever had, too.
Interestingly, our San Francisco and LA experiences were poor: SF for their stupid seating arrangement (they put two loudmouths right next to us in an otherwise empty restaurant) and LA hosts were just not very friendly.
Give them a try.