GORDON Ramsay the Michelin-award winning chef was yesterday accused of failing to live up to his own hype.
The scathing attack, which criticised the Scot for his "glorified chain" of London restaurants, was not aimed at his flagship eaterie in Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, but at "spin-offs" elsewhere. Ramsay also has the Amaryllis in Glasgow.
Peter Harden, the co-author of an annual eating guide, Harden’s, said diners at Ramsay’s other restaurants were often paying for the name. He said that the celebrity chef’s eponymous restaurant at Claridge’s Hotel was "still living off Ramsay’s reputation" with standards which are "good, but not even close to outstanding".
The guide also voted it the fifth "most overpriced" eaterie in the capital. Mr Harden said: "Ramsay has become as much a businessman and a brand as a chef. You have to say that, given the amount of stuff he has taken on, it is remarkable the performance of his flagship restaurant has been maintained. But perhaps he has found you can’t replicate that magic by opening a glorified chain.
"There is always this gap between the hype and what people experience. The second you hear that Gordon Ramsay is involved in something, people expect a little bit of the magic."
Another landmark London hotel dining room given the Ramsay treatment is the Savoy Hotel.
The guide said the revamp of the Savoy Grill has "made it less stuffy - but also less dignified - than it was of old".
However, Harden had only good things to say about Ramsay’s eponymous flagship restaurant in Chelsea, which was voted the "top gastronomic experience" - for the sixth year running. It was also voted third favourite restaurant and "devastatingly good" by the guide.
Despite its waiting list for a table, the dining experience at the Connaught hotel, which reopened last October under Ramsay’s protg Angela Hartnett, was labelled an "anticlimax".
The large number of reviews in the guide meant that Ramsay’s restaurants appeared in several categories.
A spokeswoman for Ramsay said he was out of the country and unable to comment.
However, Ramsay was not the only celebrity chef to receive a grilling in the new guide.
Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, in Hoxton, east London, was said to be "doing well". But while some reviewers said the restaurant, which featured in Oliver’s hit fly-on-the-wall TV documentary, justified the hype others described it as an "expensive disappointment".
There was also bad news for Sketch, perhaps London’s most expensive dining room and beloved of celebrities, including Victoria Beckham and Anna Friel, with critics complaining its prices are "for mugs" and the food "pretentious tosh" - although other reviewers described it as "innovative".
Another popular haunt, however, will be celebrating the news that it has been voted the capital’s favourite restaurant.
The Ivy took the award for a remarkable eighth successive year. The fact that unless you’re Madonna you won’t get a table for two at a civilised 1pm - try instead a stomach-rumbling 2.30pm - until January testifies to the success of the Covent Garden institution.
Ordinary restaurant-goers who provide the reviews praised the Ivy’s "comfort food of the highest order". One diner said star-spotting was "the icing on the cake".