"It's not much but it's ours"

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Pop quiz.

Q:When is a grill not a grill ?

A:When it’s a frying pan.

I will accept “When it’s Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill”.

Actually, my T-Bone didn’t suffer too much from being fried - it was cooked rare as requested - but that extraordinary range of tastes you get from grilling a piece of bovine flesh was notable by it’s absence.

The meat, from Donald Russell, was also ok but tasted underhung and made for unexciting and expensive eating. What’s that you say Hermano, Donald Russell ? Donald Russell the mail order place ? Yes, the very same.

Actually I buy some meat from Donald Russell myself at Christmas time but when I’m paying £30 for a 16oz Steak I’d like the restaurant to try a bit harder to source their meat. Buying from DR just smacks of laziness. That lack of attention to detail and seemingly, enthusiasm, for the whole project pretty much sums up MPW Steakhouse and Grill.

Take the frontage. There’s a nice new neon sign and below it the iconic picture of a man who likes to think of himself as some sort of latter day Don Vito Corleone (Someday, and that day may never come etc), but the awnings still proclaim the place as Lanes.

So you go along thinking you’re visiting a nice, newly relaunched restaurant only to find it’s the same old place that you never really liked but this time decorated with a lot more pictures of some loony holding his chopper. Words that spring to mind are thin, veneer and sham.

As with the Steak the rest of the food was more or less ok. It’s pretty much what you would have expected of an eatery in the Square Mile before places like L’Anima upped the ante considerably.

Potted Duck was a little underseasoned but tasty enough. It was overpriced and the portion was just too big. Much as I like fatty dishes this one just seemed to go on and on. Compare with the sensibly-sized starter I had recently at L’Absinthe.

I was assured the Triple Cooked Chips really were (Triple Cooked Chips). But I had a sense that they were on the menu for effect. I can’t believe that the Chef or the Owner actually thought they were the real deal. Not unless they were seriously deluded.

But more than the food it was the whole MPW thing that worried me. I mean, I didn’t expect the man himself to be cooking there but, you know, if he’s a friend and if he’s going to put his name to something you’d expect something more than a faxed menu suggestion. Something that showed a lot more intent.

With just a few tables occupied the restaurant had the doomed feel of a nascent Marie Celeste. Then I remembered that MPW has a company called White Star Line.

Pop quiz.

Q:What was the flagship of the White Star Line ?

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Anonymous C.Elder said...

But MPW is a great chef and not just a cook.A chef is someone who creates new,wonderful,dishes,as well executes them perfectly.MPW did this in abundance in his original restaurants,especially when at the Hyde Park Hotel.
Ramsay is a media savvy cook.He can execute a recipe,(but cannot pronounce tagliatelle )and has not invented anything on the scale of MPW.If MPW were still cooking,I wouldn't hesitate to go.For Ramsay,I canna be bothered,as they would say in his home town.

Friday, February 06, 2009 10:00:00 am  
Blogger Gavin said...

Is that Lanes as in Lanes at the top of Petticoat Lane market? If so then it's a place that seems to have been on permanent BOGOF @ toptable for years. Pretty unmemorable from my couple of visits. Last desperate attempt to save the place?

Friday, February 06, 2009 11:03:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

At least El Gordo bothers to pitch up to his new openings.

Friday, February 06, 2009 11:07:00 am  
Anonymous C.Elder said...

True,as GR is very media savvy,but he is empty inside.
MPW is completely useless at media skills and any kind of social skills,frankly.But underneath his uncouth exterior his heart is that of a true chef,passionate about the food he prepares.
And don't forget-MPW is from Yorkshire(which may boost him in your estimation?) and from a difficult background.He doesn't play the game well,and has lent his name to lots of ill-considered things for diverse reasons.But the man can out-cook Ramsay with one hand.
Now that's a food event I would pay money for -MPW cookoff against Ramsay for a real Masterchef UK title!

Friday, February 06, 2009 11:20:00 am  
Blogger Chris said...

Doesn't sound like Hawksmoor have too much to worry about.

Friday, February 06, 2009 11:32:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

It is the same place, from what I can see of HP's images Gavin

My only meal at Lanes was with HP and the much missed Tony Finch. It was so non descript I couldn't think what to write about it so didn't

My only memory was us choosing a wretched Aussie wine blend of riesling and SB and tony sniffing it and declaring loudly



Friday, February 06, 2009 12:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Harters said...

Flagship of the White Star Line?

That'll have been RMS Olympic (ii)which along with Titanic and Britannic formed the Company's Olympic class. My interest is actually in Britannic which served during the Great War as a hospital ship and was sunk in 1916 after hitting a mine.

Not many people know thaT :-)

Saturday, February 07, 2009 4:15:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

No one likes a smart arse.

Saturday, February 07, 2009 5:16:00 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Had a very nostalgic moment this week when curiosity sent me to youtube and to my astonishment found the TV show 'Marco'. Basically this was proto-food porn (mid/late 80s I think) full of sycophantic interviews with the popstar himself promoting Harveys and I remember one moment - specifically MPW making a peach melba - that inspired me to take an interest in cooking.

It's funny watching it again though - seeing the stout and cynical ego of today when it was still a boy of 27. Makes you feel rather sorry for him... and yes, the food still makes you hungry.

Saturday, February 07, 2009 7:23:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

I have no problem with MPW who was a very talented chef and now does vey passable Godfather impressions.

I also have no issue with him helping out a mate by letting his name be used to try and draw the punters in.

But FFS at least try and do it properly.

They could start by getting a proper grill in, excising all references to Lanes (the wine list was still an old one contrary to the web site) and showing a bit of dedication and enthusiasm for the new venture.


Saturday, February 07, 2009 7:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just surprised that MPW's name has any cachet left at all. He's said bluntly and ad nauseum that he doesn't cook anymore, so any restaurant claiming association with him is no guarantee of a good or even decent meal. I work in the great world of food shilling and had the experience of working with a supposed MPW restaurant. He was never, ever, ever there.

Monday, February 09, 2009 5:01:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

You see that's me - always expecting the best of people. You'll telling me next the menu wasn't his either.


Monday, February 09, 2009 10:46:00 pm  
Blogger LC said...

These comments make me so sad. I have eaten at every one of MPW's restaurants from Harveys on and there is as much honesty in this new venture as in any of the others. At the Oak Room, it was all about stars, Frankie's is about affordable glamour, this is about great quality simple food in The City, that whether you like it or not people do want to eat. I have been 3 times in the last 2 weeks and there wasn't an empty table on my last visit. If you are going to set yourself up as a restaurant critic you really should be able to recognise triple cooked chips, surely??? I would add that Marco has been in the restaurant on 2 out of my 3 visits and even made a point of coming over to our table to ask how our meal had been. For my money, its the best eatery in the City, and it appears that many others agree.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 5:13:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...


Thursday, February 12, 2009 9:58:00 pm  
Blogger Chris said...

@LC Ha! Brilliant. You're not the GM by any chance, are you? Sadly, I'm sure your wages, in these troubled economic times, depend on your restaurant being full, so I won't say anything too negative. I wouldn't wish unemployment on anyone, even those picked to front a half-hearted MPW cash-cow. But I'm afraid the DH boys are right far more often than they're wrong.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:13:00 pm  
Blogger LC said...

For heavens sake - are you really so arrogant as to think that anyone that differs in opinion to you must work for the restaurant??? i'm an investment banker for the record, and just expressing my view. I would add that the DH boys merrily pull apart some of the most successful restaurants in London, so perhaps theirs is just another opinion...

Friday, February 13, 2009 1:20:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Arrogant? very probably

Wary of other opinions? Definitely not, see the plentiful posts differing with our own

wary of shills? Certainly, we get plenty of very clumsy ones

I am not aware that success always = quality and I am not aware that we have ever offered up our views as anything but our own opinions


Friday, February 13, 2009 1:30:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

>>i'm an investment banker

Which is one of the reasons why most of the restaurants in the Square Mile are so piss poor.

Open a place there and you're guaranteed to get customers who have plenty of dosh but frighteningly little taste.

Sad but true.


Friday, February 13, 2009 7:19:00 pm  
Anonymous W.Roth said...

Careful what you say about investment bankers.Let's not forget that the Govt gets 40%tax plus12%N.I.(i.e.52%) of all their bonuses!So these guys work incredibly hard only to hand over 52% to Gordon and his merry band of socialist scotsmen.If the investment bankers don't get bonuses,then the Govt has no money!So a bunch of Scotsmen in kilts will show up at your front door and take away your furniture ,kids etc for the govt. to use to pay themselves their expenses!So be nice to those investment bankers-we need their money.

Monday, February 16, 2009 12:34:00 pm  

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