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Marco Pierre White’s Steak House Bar and Grill, Chester

Gordo gets very, very angry

Written by . Published on June 14th 2010.

Marco Pierre White’s Steak House Bar and Grill, Chester

Chapter One: in which our hero gets het up about PR

Well, MPW (that’s Marco Pierre White, folks) has been open a while in Chester, with his ‘Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar and Grill’. It’s had a good deal of time to bed in. So Gordo pitches up one Saturday, early evening, doing a walk in. A young lady on the reception was charming, booking Gordo into a six o’clock slot.

Up North, we get a ‘10oz Rib Eye, garnished with grilled beef tomato and onion rings, béarnaise or au poivre sauce’ for the same price. ONION SODDING RINGS? Marco, my old mate, Gordo would need eight Viagra tabs and four fluffers from The Valley to get excited about that. The menu was a letdown. In fact, it’s downright patronising.

Gordo went to the opening of MPW’s other baby up here in the North, The Swan Inn at Aughton, near Ormskirk, four or five months ago. He liked it; it was the opening day mind you, and he had to swerve a PR company who seemed intent on ignoring Confidential’s 250,000 readers by going out of their way to irritate Gordo. Worse this seemed to indicate they were treating his beloved readers with contempt.

“Sorry Gordo”, said a PA, “they are allowing you one place and no plus one. They are rammed apparently. Oh, they can’t promise you an interview, TV’s there.”

Bread, good stuff

Now in Gordo’s world, that’s pretty rude.

If food critics are ever to have significant others, they won’t keep them by leaving them at home and seemingly having all the fun, so it is simple good manners to give that plus one. This PR company shouldn’t be in the food and drink game, they should stick to promoting cleaning products.

“Tell them to go and fuck off then,” says Gordo. He then picks up his phone and calls his pal Francis Carroll, who is the gaffer of MPW’s projects up here, on his private mobile.

“Francis, Gordo here. Can you get me a table for four on the opening day of The Swan Inn please?”

“Not a problem Gordo. Do you want to interview MPW?”

“Yes please Francis, I will bring Stephanie de Leng for the photos as well; I will of course pay my bill as usual”.

The PR guy was spitting feathers when MPW spent all of his pre-lunch time with Gordo, ignoring the BBC.

The story of the day can be found here. Francis, a pro in the restaurant game, knew how important the Confidential readership was and they love him as well. Gordo did one of the all-time best interviews with Marco, which resulted in thousands and thousands of people reading the piece, probably more than read AA Gill that week.

Chapter two: our hero and his mate, Bernard Matthews

Back to Chester. Now, MPW has got himself into some hot water for becoming Bernard Matthew’s front man. Ainslie Harriot had a pop at him. I bet MPW is shaking in his boots. Ainsley, let him without sin cast the first...and so on.

Gordo would happily front for Bernard. Because, as his daughter delights in telling all and sundry at every opportunity, Gordo has a dirty, filthy food secret.

Two Bernard Matthews turkey drummers, cooked to a crisp, split in half, each one laid on a slice of Warburton’s fresh-as-you-please thick sliced white, buttered very thickly with Lurpak and doused in Heinz tomato ketchup. Yum, double yum.

So, Gordo forgives MPW. He also knows how expensive not being Gay can be.

Chapter three: in which our hero ponders a famous divide

The restaurant is inside a Hilton Hotel, off a roundabout on the ring road. You walk through a modern reception into the restaurant area, which has a good, fifties’ style bar where you will probably find every alcoholic beverage known to man, a proper boozer’s bar. You can have a few scoops in here waiting for Gordo to finish his dinner if you want. Gordo was ushered straight to his table for two, in a sunny window overlooking immaculately cut lawns.

Crab, good by the way

The tables are spread with crisp, clean linen; there is a feeling of understated luxury with seating to match. Within half an hour, even for this early sitting, the place is filling up with good looking, friendly faces, everyone at ease and chatting away. It’s a good feel all right.

Gordo has known MPW’s cooking, having done a fair bit of mistress interviewing in his twenties at Harvey’s, his renowned three star Michelin restaurant south of the river in London. Just a couple of years ago, Gordo called into The Yew Tree, south of Newbury. This is MPW’s homage to the traditional country restaurant. The menu there is awesome. You can read Gordo’s review here.

What Gordo was looking forward to was the upgrade to Escoffier recipes that the Yew Tree menu had achieved, picking some great traditional dishes that had been around for eighty years and doing ABSOLUTELY FUCK ALL different to them. Just ensuring they were done well.

He's behind you Peachy!

Chefs, please take note. You cannot improve on Croustade Oeufs de Caille Maintenon. Just cook it well. The punters will flock to you. Give me a chef that can produce a perfectly steamed tranche of turbot on wilted spinach with light, buttery, lemony hollandaise to go on top. Yum.

Unfortunately in Chester the menu is a cut down of the Yew Tree Inn menu. It’s a disappointment.

Down south at The Yew Tree we get four different rib eye steaks; no weight quoted, you can be sure they will be chunky. One of the choices, ‘au poivre noir, grilled oysters, jus a la Parisienne (£19.50)’. Now, dear reader, how absolutely horny does that sound? When Gordo first saw that, he wanted to wolf it down, grab one of the buxom bar maids, drag her round the back and give her a good seeing to.

Up North, at The Steakhouse Bar and Grill, we get a ‘10oz Rib Eye, garnished with grilled beef tomato and onion rings, béarnaise or au poivre sauce’ for the same price. ONION SODDING RINGS? Marco, my old mate, Gordo would need eight Viagra tabs and four fluffers from The Valley to get excited about that. The menu was a letdown. In fact, it’s downright patronising.

The horror story. Calf's liver

Chapter four: in which our hero gets steaming angry

But, what about the quality of the food?

Down South, the Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps (£12.50) were a master class in freshness and taste. Simplicity as well, served with fantastic bread. Gordo’s Morecambe Bay brown shrimp cocktail, Marie Rose Sauce (£10.50), up north was awful. The sauce was bland, watery even. The shrimps had no taste whatsoever; it was as if they had been sent down south, stood around for a couple of days and sent back up north for us lot to put up with.

The kipper paté with whisky and melba toast (£5.50) was liked by Gordo’s pal Peachy, but not to Gordo’s taste, the whisky needs to be in the background, smoking out a good fresh kipper flavour. This one had been beaten with a heavy hand.

Kipper pate, more toast for a start please chef

Main courses: down south, ‘roast partridge, properly garnished’ (£14.50) was just that, properly garnished and delightful. Up north, Gordo gets a pretty tasteless ‘spatchcocked chicken with chipolatas, bread sauce’ (£14.50). He should have ordered something different really; for God’s sake, there are loads of partridges about up here but the patronising arse who owns this franchise thinks we will be ok with a poussin, a baby chicken that has not had time to develop flavour.

Overdone as well. Gordo could have had them done under the Trades Description Act. There was one mean little pale ‘chipolata’. Go on guys, go for broke and give us two; or maybe a proper sausage at least? You know, one that tastes a little piggy?

Gordo did bread sauce on Sunday at home. Pint of full fat milk, onions, cloves, peppercorns, couple of bay leaves, bring to the boil, turn off, leave for a couple of hours, remove bits, 4oz of breadcrumbs, mixed in, heated up, season to taste.

That, Chef, is how BLEEDING EASY it is to make the stuff. Pouring consistency of double cream, not fast setting concrete. Read Delia guys. Because Gordo would rather cut his fingers off than serve what you lot did.

Peachy had the calf’s liver and bacon with fried onions, (£16.50). This was well done. Peachy had asked for it pink, ‘but not bloody’. Maybe not the clearest of instructions but most good chefs will know precisely what she meant. This was overcooked and had that weird texture you can get with calf’s liver; crumbly, nearly paté like consistency, floury.

Gordo would welcome someone explaining what is wrong here. All Gordo knows is that it is unpleasant. Peachy sent it back to the Chef, with Gordo explaining what the problem was, particularly that crumbly, floury gamey thing that was going on. Could he try it and pass an opinion?

Presentation is fine, the chips were great

It came back a few minutes later.

“Chef says there was nothing wrong with it, you asked for it well done and he didn’t use any flour in the cooking”. This new example was exactly the same. Peachy took one bite and left it to one side. We will deal with this in a minute.

Triple cooked chips, creamed potatoes, green beans , all at £3, were great, if expensive.

Raspberry soufflé (£6) was outstanding, as was the cheese, ‘a choice of five local cheeses, quince jelly’ (£8). Maybe a tad cold. Only three pieces arrived, although there was a little magic going on with the chutney and boozy fruits which weren’t advertised but happily sitting on the plate.


The wine list is well chosen but ‘middling’, most wines under the thirty quid mark with a few super starts thrown in. Not much going on in the mid range if anyone is looking for something special without breaking the bank.

Back to the calf’s liver.

Chef, you patronising excuse of a supposed professional, how dare you treat a complaint like that? You, my friend, are not MPW and let me say, even he would have had to go toe to toe with Gordo and Mickey Tierney’s favourite axe if he had ever treated him like that. (Is Mr Tierney another one of your gentle Book Club mates? Ed).

You are the embodiment of everything that is wrong with this restaurant. It thinks it can talk down its nose to Northerners. It should be shut, cleaned out, started again with a facsimile of The Yew Tree menu and the same standard of cooking. Francis, get a grip on the kitchen brigade in here.

But not front of house. They are of the highest order and get a rare 5/5 for their endeavours

Ready for my close up Mr Gordo...


Follow Gordo on twitter GordoManchester

Breakdown:4/10 food
5/5 service
4/5 ambience
Address:Marco Pierre White’s Steak House Bar and Grill
Doubletree by Hilton Chester
Warrington Road, Hoole
Chester CH2 3PD
01244 408830

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Stephen BestJune 14th 2010.

How nice to see such an honest and great review. Well done Gordo and Mancon for such a good piece. ( Gordo must get together again soon)

NortherngeezerJune 14th 2010.

Being served shyte like this reminds us how lucky we are when we get the good stuff. I'd have marched in to the kitchen and bounced the fookin 'chef' for comments like that.

Leigh ScottJune 14th 2010.

A proper review that - enjoyed it!

GadflyJune 15th 2010.

I thought Gordo was in love with MPW?

Tyson ThebeerhoundJune 15th 2010.

Excellent review. Sounds like the arrogant so-and-so was taking the piss. Are the good folk of Chester use to being ripped off?

southerneroopnorthJune 15th 2010.

We were at MPW's steakhouse and grill on London's Kings Road recently where we had a similarly disappointing experience. We were a large group of 24 but for a restaurant with such a highly regarded name attached the experience simply didn't live up to expectations. SO it would appear that it is not merely the Northerners that are being marginalised but anyone who chooses to eat in one of Marco's less exclusive venues.

One of our biggest problems was with a chicken main course that came covered in breadcrumbs, everyone that opted for this was greeted with what appeared to be a burnt Bewrnard Matthews breaded turkey escalope - having now read about Marco's championing of the Norfolk farmer my suspcions are officially rasied!

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