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“Beautiful setting, food just ok”

Gilbert's Restaurant
Ranked #40 of 346 Restaurants in Harrow
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
221 reviews
159 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 133 helpful votes
“Beautiful setting, food just ok”
Reviewed 12 March 2014 via mobile

Stayed at the hotel and booked a dinner bed breakfast package whilst on business in Harrow.. Ate on a very quiet Monday evening with only a handful of diners, we received £22 credit to use against the a la carte menu. I tried the trio of salmon, the chicken linguine and the creme brulee. Each course was ok but not delicious. The main course was too creamy and bland not to mention dull to look at! It was crying out for fresh tarragon and some vegetables. Colleagues said the same about their courses and were not amused when two very hard, badly burnt in the middle, sticky toffee puddings were produced, chef clearly needs to learn how to use a microwave! Service was lovely if a little slow...in respect to the pudding drama apologies were offered and the question of a replacement dessert but the replacements were itemised on the bill which is unacceptable in the restaurant industry and should have been removed as a gesture of goodwill.
Because we had gone over the inclusive dinner rate, therefore needing to pay money plus the fact a colleague had a glass of wine that they could not find the price for, the bill took nearly half an hour to arrive, embarrassing! I will not return when I next stay at the hotel.

Thank monkeystar861
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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127 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
93 reviews
69 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 151 helpful votes
“Trial by Jury -- majority verdict: guilty”
Reviewed 9 March 2014

Such a beautiful and historic house – a magnificent, if now rather messed up, early masterpiece (1870) by the great Arts and Crafts architect Norman Shaw (1831-1912) – should have a restaurant its equal. Most of the period work in Gilberts restaurant seems to be intact, though I imagine it’s a little gloomy when it’s dark (even illuminated by the marvellous Art Deco light fittings), but Sunday lunch, always a severe test of the single-mindedness of a restaurant, was lazy, lacked attention to detail and after a good starter, slipped rapidly down to Harvester standards, possibly lower. The staff were good, though the inter-course breaks assumed some longueurs, but we couldn’t help overhearing the maître d’(?) apologising to a group next to us who had waited an eternity for their main course. Extra wine seemed at least temporarily to stave off louder expressions of dissatisfaction.

If you aren’t doing the relativistic bit, which I don’t, then you need certain reliable standards by which to judge. Our lodestar is the Sunday lunch menu at Galvin La Chapelle in East London, where the Michelin star nearly always shines out, and where we have had consistently wonderful food and service; 3 courses for £29. Gilberts (I assume Best Western is doing the same as local authorities and newspapers, that is omitting apostrophes, just in case someone might think they’re acting a bit posh, or worse, that they might be in the wrong place and undiscovered by the spellchecker) – Gilbert’s, as it should be, costs a little less, but Galvin is incalculably better value than the small premium. The good folk of this nice part of Hertfordshire would be well advised to hop on the Metropolitan line to Liverpool Street.

Reading through the menu is an unenlightening experience. The usual standard dishes are there, all glaring hostages to fortune and the unwary chef. Bread, as usual in most British restaurants, is handled like bullion. The white bread rolls were undercooked, the raisin and walnut rolls marginally underdone, and though in fairness we were readily offered more when we requested it, one of the signatures of eating is bread (to break bread etc), and if two-bit cafes in nearly all of continental Europe can plonk a basket of local bread on your table as you sit down, then why not in the UK, where each bread roll must cost about 3p?

Starters were good: Laura’s warm duck salad had some (but not that much) zing, and my chicken parfait was fine; I just needed help with a pair of binoculars to track down the whereabouts of the two nouvelle cuisine-sized isosceles triangles of toast.

Mains are a bit oversized, if that doesn’t sound perverse. Veg good, including nicely braised red cabbage, but train-crash roast potatoes, poor quality things gently dehydrated in a warm oven over several hours, so that they squidge when you try and cut into them and the dessicated innards burst out from their enfeebled coverings; Yorkshire pudding, always a strenuous test of high quality on-demand cooking, was horrid and doughy, and hadn’t seen milk in its ingredients. My rump of lamb was excellent, though I didn’t much appreciate the mint that had already been incorporated into the structureless gravy, but Laura’s beef required urgent forensic investigation. The menu claimed it was rib, but it was fibre-less, washed out, flabby and could have been any meat. (Our semi-tutored view was that it had been boiled and then exposed briefly to an oven.) Only with the eye of faith could it be described as medium, and a spectrophotometric examination would probably be required; it didn’t matter, because it was unpleasant, and some was left on the plate (‘Were the mains good?’ was the only repeated plea from the corporate script; non-empty plates in people with a slightly elevated Body Mass Index suggests that things are not altogether fantastic).

Puddings were arrayed in the usual-suspect line-up, which I almost never have because they bore me unless I can’t guess what they are from the menu, and probably bring my family diabetes genes nearer to the surface. (You can’t have a dessert menu without offering some kind of cheese/non-sugary option, of which there are plenty.) The neon luridly flashed this time around ‘Sticky Toffee Pudding’, a testing dessert that has been bastardised over decades into misleading punters into thinking that it can be anything that leads to sugar-induced nausea, in the same way that people claim to be chocaholics when they really mean they love sugar and hate cocoa (and probably do throw up if given 70% cocoa chocolate). The key ingredient of STP is dates, and we were absolutely sure that this comic-opera version had never come into contact even with an errant date molecule, though it had clearly experienced brief intimacy with the interior of a microwave. The ‘pudding bowl’ shape was the give-away to its provenance; real STP is tray baked and therefore comes out quadrilateral. Horrid.

The nice staff were happy to substitute a coffee for my pudding, but they shouldn’t have bothered. Undrinkable stewed filter coffee doesn’t count; I say this with some regret, as we had just returned from Madeira where heavenly espresso costs less than a Euro. To have this as an extra act to the operetta would set you back not far off £4.

Previous reviews suggest that this restaurant, like so many others in the UK, started off well, and has slithered into carelessness. This is a pity, as we found the staff well presented, personable and mostly free from the scream-inducing corporate script plug-ins. The corrective is to take all the staff on an awayday to a place like La Chapelle for lunch, there to experience the wonderful food, of course, but much more important, to watch the customers: wherever you look there are smiles and happiness, because really good food, food that surprises and entertains, as well as fills the belly, is one of the greatest privileges of the world that sadly relatively few of us can experience. I didn’t see one smiling face at Gilberts, and that means something needs putting right – and quickly. Or the Lord High Executioner might effect a merciful release.

  • Visited March 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank David L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
98 reviews
55 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Outstanding value wine list”
Reviewed 5 March 2014 via mobile

I have had two wonderful evenings at this restaurant. The service was friendly and efficient and the food quality was very good indeed. What really made the place for me was the exceptional wine list. Not only do they stock some classic wines, but their prices represent the best value I think I have ever seen. This appears to be down to two key members of staff who make it their business to give guests the chance to drink fine wines at affordable prices. Bravo 5*

Visited March 2014
Thank ymoose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Whitby, United Kingdom
1 review
“"Great lunch, great value"”
Reviewed 29 January 2014

Set in a fabulous woodland setting this restaurant offers a great lunch offer until 7th Feb of £10 for a main course with a free £5 dessert.
We skipped the starters (priced from £5) and had main courses of Braised shin of beef, and whole grilled plaice followed by old fashioned rice pudding and choux bun swan.
All of these dishes were excellent and were great value which was even better when the free dessert was taken into account.
Two mains, two desserts and soft drinks for under £26.
Good service not included in the bill so don't forget to leave a tip.
Hope to return soon & look around the grounds after lunch next time.

  • Visited January 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank maa555
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
36 reviews
27 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Best Cream Tea Ever”
Reviewed 12 January 2014

We just enjoyed a brilliant birthday cream tea at the Grimsdyke. The Victorian atmosphere in the twilight makes a wonderful ambience for a traditional English meal. The smoked salmon was first rate, and the egg mayonnaise well seasoned, Cucumber sandwiches completed the lowest tier of the cake stand. The pastry on the eclairs was meltingly fine, though the top did not taste of chocolate. Best of all were the scones: they looked hard and unpromising but had a wonderful texture and were not sweetened, thus setting off the strawberry jam and thick cream brilliantly. There was also fruity trifle and tiny ginger cakes, which were highly spiced and gave an extra zing to finish the meal. There is a wide choice of teas and other hot drinks. These were of normal hotel quality and not up to the highly exceptional standard of the food. Overall the tea is a must, at a fraction of the price of the Ritz and other West End venues.

  • Visited January 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank meylbot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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