We’re trying to figure out who is supplying London’s caterers with all these low wattage filament lightbulbs.
Mr Ramsay. Before we begin.
What the fuck were you thinking?
It was like being visually water-boarded with liquid inane awkwardness. If it wasn’t the awful Channel 4 fodder guests that ‘visited’, or Gordon’s frankly appalling repetitive small-talk, then it was the time-delayed cuts to That Guy That Played The Bongos In Jamiroquai while his dad tried unsuccessfully to hide the fact he was drinking poor quality lager at 10am on live television. Oh, and the small issue that huge chunks of the show were repeats of the previous nights’ Come Dine With Me, confusing the baubles out of people flicking on to it. Christ, I hope the pay check came in a dump truck that could fill up the father in law’s swimming pool.
Looking for the entrance to Ramsay’s newest restaurant Bread Street Kitchen, we barrel through One New Change, which sounds like a cross between a rejected boyband and an aspirational government policy.
It being at least a year since visiting Barbecoa, we realise it’s opposite. Next to a Nando’s. Just up the alley from a Byron. Round the corner from the Wasabi. Across the way from EAT.
Being on the rear end of the building, on Bread Street (hence the name), it doesn’t share the same quality views of St Paul’s that Jamie’s Barbecoa enjoys. In fact the view you do get is of the rather dull offices of the people that you’re sitting in there with.
But we are in. A sea of twill-shirted windsor knots scattered about the cavernous space faces us. The receptionist eyes us up and down, wondering to herself whether we missed Nando’s completely and fell through the wrong door.
We are a little bit uncomfortable.
The service from the get-go was super-slick. From the small-talk of the maitre d’ (“Oh you guys look like you’ve been working so hard today, try our cocktails!”) to ordering from the waiter - the food was out faster than a frisky greyhound. We went for two short rib burgers, some chips and a portion of macaroni cheese.
The burger is pretty. The burger is big. The short rib patties could hardly be faulted, if for a tad of sporadic underseasoning on one. The bouncy, brioche buns had been brushed with butter to double-team the mouth with rich butteriness. It was dripping butter before we even picked it up. The ketchup on the top bun half had the look and taste of a creamy-sweet tomato mascarpone mix. And the bottom bun was laced with shredded lettuce covered with mayonnaise and some barely-distinguishable mustard.
The result was a decadent sweet richness. So decadent in fact, that our crisp white napkins could barely protect us from the butter onslaught. The mustard was way too low in the mix to add the contrasting kick. The Bermondsey Frier cheese does a pretty good job at cloning mozzarella and halloumi, but doesn’t add the layer of salty slickness that we always look for. Similar to the carefully curated surroundings, it had an aftertaste of over-thought and design by committee.
After we’ve finished our burger, we look up to see that the entire room has filled up. We really can’t stress just how enormous BSK is. Vast. And by 8pm, after they’ve all finished their last billable 15 minutes of the day from across the road, the place is heaving. We realise a few things after agreeing that the macaroni cheese was ‘nice’.
Bread Street Kitchen is the most clumsily designed restaurant we’ve been in for years.
The menu positively froths with buzzwords, you can choose from the ‘raw bar’, ‘hot kitchen’, ‘small plates’ and the slightly spa-esque ‘hot stone’.
The reclaimed furniture: if you don’t manage to get a leather booth, you’re sitting on chairs from an Essex secondary school. We’re also trying to figure out who is supplying London’s caterers with all these low wattage filament lightbulbs. It’s been done to death here.
There is no set menu, and the portion control is rigorously small - Gordon wants you to buy at least three courses each, push a few cocktails down you and flummox you with a bafflingly long and expensive wine list. It’s the kind of wine list that sits perfectly in, say, Claridges; arguably it fits the clientele here, but it’s not for two scruffy bloggers buying a burger each and sharing a few sides.
It’s all very impressive when you’re in there. Very Big Manhattan Restaurant in what they’re going for. The illusion of which is ruined once you leave again and walk past the Nando’s next door.
If you can withstand the try-hard reclaimed decor, the cufflinked clientele, and the soft, incessant, insufferable balearic beats, then it’s worth a go. But we’d suggest getting an ISA, saving up, then taking lots of money and ploughing your way through the cocktail menu as quickly as possible. Or doing a law degree first.
- If you’re wondering why Rob was watching the Christmas Cookalong, then it’s worth noting that his job at the Big British Castle involves watching lots of television. He was working on Christmas Day, the poor sausage. ↩