A bit of Britain in Caesar’s Palace.
When Gordon Ramsay opened his more moderately priced venue, Ramsay’s Pub and Grill, in Caesar’s Palace in December, it was as though Santa Clause had brought Christmas Eve early. Who doesn’t love the rake of the range, the shepherd of shepherd pie, the Hotspur of Hell’s Kitchen? I adore his chutspa, as my grandma would say, and was over-the-moon when his steak house opened at the Paris, but could not bring myself to walk past the phallic sign and into the womb of the restaurant; however, his Pub & Grill provided no impediment – the
The logo is brilliant and bully and bloody bully brilliant.
row of beer kegs dividing the dining room from the bar, the couches and comfy chairs inviting beer sipping and intimate conversations, the mural of a bulldog in British colors by the bar and Gordon Ramsay’s portrait watching over all from the back. Overall, a beautiful and inviting venue.
My first experience was brilliant. Three days after they opened, I dined with a friend and the service and food was exceptional. It was so good that I brought another friend for dinner ten days later and had the worst dining experience of my gastronomical career.
I could detail the twenty-five minute wait for water and our waiter, the rudeness of his demeanor, the need to ask for bread after being seated for thirty-five minutes and his reply as he walked away “Maybe I can get something from dinner service,” the twenty-five minute wait for the fried oysters that were a bit too oily followed by the sliders that were a bit too bland – more . While other guests were being treated to a divine experience by their waiters, those being tended by our waiter were treated to being treated as an imposition rather than a guest whose experience will not only determine the reputation of the restaurant, but the size of his tip. Even after the assistant manager became aware of our plight, our waiter’s performance did not improve; indeed, it got worse as he complained to my companion about me and stated to her that we should all “just chill out – it’s only food.” What he does not get is that it is not only food, it is his profession, it is his guests’ culinary experience, it is Gordon Ramsay’s reputation. The entire experience was so horrid that the only way I would return was if I did not have to pay for the displeasure.
When we returned, the same waiter literally ran into us at the bar. That he was still employed shocked me and, quite frankly, spoke volumes of the management team’s judgement and gave me second thoughts about staying. However, stay we did, during a Thursday dinner service, and were seated at a high table next to the bar, directly in the path of the kitchen traffic. This wait staff was expert enough to avoid bumping either us or the table. This time the oysters were less greasy, the duck was dry but
The Scuffle: Guinness infused foam over pure intoxication. At $15 a bit pricey, but unique.
the fries crispy, but the drink, the Scuffle, was divine, but not worth the $15. Moreover, a dish that the British should do well, Fish & Chips, was disappointing this second time around. The fillet’s were smaller than on the first visit, and their batter a bit more oily; the chips were oddly shaped strips trying to be rectangles; the mushy peas cold and frightened on the side of the plate. Though the fillets were both flakey and divine, the breading detracted rather than enhanced its taste; the chips are so thick that they retain the heat so that when you bite it, the outside is cold, but the inside flesh still burns the tongue. If they want the geometric appearance to contrast with the mushy peas, perhaps cubes would be better – still pleasing to the eye and able to deliver more of the herb dusting with each bite. The dessert, the Sticky Toffee Pudding, was worth the visit.
In all fairness, we opted to try it one more time, during their lunch service. We arrived around three o’clock and found ourselves placed in the front section on the far edge of the floor, near the open casino, behind a billboard, and near the server’s station. Unfortunately, being so near the servers did not help our server redeem the Gordon Ramsay name. Instead, with only two other tables to attend, he took twenty minutes to greet us with water and menus. While waiting we noticed the spots on our water glasses and the food particles stuck to my glass. We also noted that the table behind us received their order, delivered by the runner with a “Here it is, the new and improved version,” and the table to the left of us exclaimed, “Finally!” when the runner brought them theirs; neither table looked pleased and left as soon as their food was consumed. When our appetizer came, the Scotch Egg, the runner asked if we had ordered it hard boiled, to which replied we did not, but we were going to eat it anyway because we were hungry. (It had been a thirty minute wait for food.) The egg was cold, the sauce was cold, the plate presented
Scotch egg on a trencher – sans serving spoons.
with no serving ware and without instructions on how to eat such a dish. At this, our third experience at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill matching our first in terms of horrific service and poor food quality, I turned to my companion and suggested we lunch around the corner at Max Brenner’s instead. She went ahead to order us drinks and secure a table while I spoke with the new floor manager. It is the first time I’ve walked out of a restaurant and I hope it will be my last.
I cannot recommend you visit the establishment at this time. If you’re dying to have a celebrity chef experience and want one at Caesar’s Palace, then spend your money at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill or, if you want a really good meal, and Italian is more your style, take the curving escalators up to the third floor of the Caesar Forum Shoppes and try Il Mulino. If it’s Gordon Ramsay’s name you’re after, avoid his Pub & Grill and try his Steakhouse across the street in the Paris – my cousin and her husband had a fabulous meal there though I’ve yet to try. But, be warned, if this one is any indication of the hospitality and fare served at Gordon Ramsay’s namesakes, I’d spend your money at Wolfgang Puck’s in the MGM or even at Le Thai down on 6th and Freemont.
☙❧ ☙❧ ☙❧ ☙❧ ☙❧
Epilogue: Saturday Lunch Service
Wanting to give every opportunity to the establishment that carries such a famous name, I persuaded my friend to return with me today. She ordered the Scuffle (my bribe to her for returning with me), I attempted to order a Snakebite (half lager and half cider), and we split a Shepherd’s pie. This time the service was what was expected, until the bill arrived. From our waiter placing the check to him returning having run our card, over thirteen minutes elapsed, the same amount of time it took us to taste the entree and for her to finish her drink. My drink arrived as the beer instead of the traditional pub brew even though when I ordered I asked if I they could make one. I would have sent the tinny tasting beer back for replacement, but our waiter did not stay long enough while dropping it off to take a breath nor did he return to see how things were until over ten minutes later when the luke-warm pie arrived. Perhaps it was the fact that the beef was shredded and sliced and chunked that made it unevenly heated, perhaps it was the finely diced carrots and completely shelled peas that tasted like frozen instead of fresh, perhaps it was too thin a gravy with too thin of seasoning — whatever it was, I do not know. What I do know is that it took over thirty minutes for a runner to clean the dirty table next to us and that when he did he simply pushed the mound of crumbs onto the casino carpet instead of placing the crumbs in the trash. I also know that my water glass was dirty for the second visit in a row, and that, unfortunately, I have had my fill of Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill.
Just in case you’d like a look at the Fish & Chips, a staple in any pub worth its weight in pints, two different plates on the same visit follow:
The first try – unappealing and unartistic with cold mushy peas and puny fried fish.
Fish & Chips Take 2. Mushy peas not as cold and the cod a bit bigger, but still, disappointing for the quid.