The New York Times finally came up with its review (“For a Bad Boy Chef, He’s Certainly Polite“) of the new Gordon Ramsay ristorante in newyorke. I’m not sure if the delay between the restaurant launch and Frank Bruni’s review qualifies it as a “soft” opening, as restaurants seem to get these days, but it definitely contributed to the “meh” quality of the review, which was already pretty meh. M-e-h. Bruni gave it two stars and called the menu “cautious.” The gist: “For all his brimstone and bravado, [Ramsay’s] strategy for taking Manhattan turns out to be a conventional one, built on familiar French ideas and techniques that have been executed with more flair, more consistency and better judgment in restaurants with less vaunted pedigrees.”
It’s not just the caution that Bruni objects to, it’s the fact that it’s delivered by a man who is a ragin beastie on the telly, full of controversial ideas and showmanship: “It’s impossible, given Mr. Ramsay’s reputation, not to be primed for [excitement], and not to be rankled by the low-key loveliness that you get in its place.” Which makes me wonder…what did Bruni hope to experience? I understand the disappointment, but nothing could have lived up to the original hype in any case, or if it did, one might worry. I get the impression that Ramsay’s food in the UK is riskier, so that’s a valid complaint, but that’s not really what Bruni talked about. Did he want to hear yelling coming from the kitchen? Plates crashing? Regardless, it’s interesting to think that the most truly far-out, exciting food is being made by much quieter personalities, even if just as many gallons of ink are being spilled about them. Those’d be the real bad boy chefs.