Hotel GB

Hotel GB was the Channel 4 reality show that took over a whole hotel (the Bermondsey Square) and recruited celebrities to mentor and train the unemployed of Great Britain. The likes of Mary Portas, Gok Wan and Hilary Devey took part in this rather unique programme. Gordon Ramsay ran the restaurant (something that got me and my gentleman companion rather excited) and I managed to bag a table for two during one of the rehearsal days.

We were told to arrive at 6pm sharp and to cut a long and rather tedious story short, we didn’t sit down for our dinner until 8:15!

As it was just a rehearsal day, the front of house staff were a mix between unemployed amateurs and professionals yet service was totally chaotic – no one seemed to know what they were doing! Gordon spent the whole time shouting (in trademark style) very loudly at the chefs and waiters – which made for great viewing from our table!

The dining room was rigged with microphones and cameras meaning most diners (who were rather drunk by this point) were being as loud and outrageous as possible – in the hope that they would make it onto the telly. The whole experience was rather surreal.

The menu on offer was three courses for just £15 which sounded very good value (during filming the menu will be £35).

To start, my gentleman companion opted for the salt and pepper squid. This looked rather unappetising. Giant lettuce leaves, chewy overcooked squid and thickly sliced chilli made for a wholly disappointing starter.

My sauteed wild mushrooms on toasted sourdough however was absolutely delicious. The earthy mushrooms were perfectly cooked, generously seasoned and beautifully buttery. The middle of the sourdough had soaked up all that wonderful flavour yet the crust still remained crunchy. A simple starter but perfectly executed.

For main course, the rigatoni arrabiata with parmesan was pleasant enough but nothing jaw dropping. As my gentleman companion described it “just pasta and tomato sauce”. The parmesan had bizarrely been grated over the edge of the plate and not over any of the pasta which seemed silly.

My minute steak with garlic butter and chips was not very enjoyable. The minute steak was actually quite a thick cut sirloin steak which had been cooked rare and was rather tough. The fat hadn’t been cooked properly and got stuck in my teeth. The chips were lovely and crisp but completely void of seasoning.

For dessert there was just one choice, apple pie and vanilla custard. The inside of the pastry was completely undercooked and doughy but the apples in the filling were soft and tasted delicious so I wasn’t too unhappy.

We were brought our bill (£32 for both our 3 courses and a bottle of water) and we were given the option of whether we actually wanted to pay or not. As all proceeds from Hotel GB go to employment charities we felt they fully deserved our money – even if the food and service we had experienced didn’t.

Our dinner at Hotel GB was like a weird dream – did it really happen? What made the night exciting for us, was watching Gordon at the pass – shouting at everyone. My favourite line from the evening was said from Gordon to one of his panicking chefs “I’m going to go and get a drink from the bar in a minute, what are you going to do then? Shit yourself?” Ah, we really do love him!


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