Really!  What has happened to the London Hotel West Hollywood?

My friends Michael and Yaniv who are visiting from New York very sweetly invited me to lunch there yesterday.

I loved their room which has a nice, easterly view over the Hollywood Hills and a huge bathroom.

Lunch was less charming.

According to the verbose London Hotel website:

Gordon Ramsay has recreated the Hollywood culinary scene, with dining inspired by the sunny, savvy and social setting of L.A. From his Michelin-starred signature restaurant and casual bistro, to private, poolside and in-suite dining, cuisine is truly superb, highlighting California’s fresh abundance of produce.”

The luxurious appointment that was The London when it first opened is no more.  The faux suede walls, the marble foyer, the topiary…has dated incredibly quickly.

The poolside dining was a disgrace.

The astro turfed roof looks a mess.  It looks unkempt.  The tables strewn rather than arranged.  The staff uniform one step away from Macdonald’s, with the ubiquitous polo shirt and a hideous recent (?) addition…a huge corporate name tag stamped in shiny silver and black plastic pinned haphazardly onto the waitresses grubby white outfit.

We ordered from the polite and attentive young waitress, two salads and one burger.

Gordon must agree that the Devil/God is in the detail.  So, whenever I am in any of his restaurants my expectations are high.   Surely his personal standards should be greater than those he insists of his hapless TV show victims.

Am I being unreasonable?

Like going to the theatre or a movie, when I sit down in any restaurant I don’t go looking for trouble.  I want to be delighted.  Especially when my lunch is being paid for.

Unlike a movie or the theatre, however, when I sit down to eat it doesn’t take much to please me.  I have never walked out of a restaurant half way through a meal whereas I often leave the theatre/cinema huffing and puffing with disgust.

Authenticity delights me.  Generosity too.  Appropriateness thrills.  Detail is everything.

It was an uncomfortable experience.

The table and chairs were crammed behind an immovable planter.  Three big men at a very small table.  We were all a little surprised that the condiments were served in ugly plastic sachet.

We ordered drinks.

My Arnold Palmer was far too tart.   Too much lemon and not enough iced tea.

We had loads to talk about so waiting a little bit longer for our lunch didn’t seem to matter.

When Yaniv’s burger finally arrived the bun was crushed.  It looked cheap.  It looked unloved.  The miserable burger sat forlornly on the plate.  Instead of fries it was served with a tiny cup of chips (crisps).

My skirt steak salad was pathetic.  The undressed salad of various leaves including raddiccio dwarfing the tiny amount of steak.  No ‘abundance of Californian product‘ here.

We thought better of desert.

We ordered coffee.  Yaniv was amused to note that every sugar sachet bar one was empty.

It served as a fitting metaphor.

The experience of being at The London West Hollywood looks like it might be full of surprises but ends up an empty promise.

BTW the London Hotel website ‘poolside lunch’ menu is inaccurate as of 21st July 2011.

We drove to Santa Monica where we met the gorgeous Jeff.  Ate a late dessert on Third Street.  Wandered around the new Santa Monica Place.  Walked to the beach where we watched my friend Armand, as nimble as a monkey, work the rings.

Went home to dogs who were delighted to see me and bounced around crying with pleasure.

Must make coffee.  I have desk work to do today.  Need to write to Jake’s lawyer re iPod incident.