Harden's reporters tell TV chef Jamie Oliver he's a rip-off

01 September 2004
Harden's reporters tell TV chef Jamie Oliver he's a rip-off

TV chef Jamie Oliver has been slammed by the new Harden's guide for ripping off customers.

Harden's London Restaurant Guide 2005, which is compiled by the restaurant-going public, gave Oliver's Fifteen restaurant in London's trendy Hoxton the lowest possible ratings for food, service and ambience.

Oliver: lowest marks for food, service and ambience
The review reads: "Jamie Oliver is taking the piss at his amateurish made-for-TV Hoxton venture, where average food comes at Gordon Ramsay prices; just because it's a charity doesn't give them the right to rip people off". Peter Harden, co-editor of the guide, said: "Jamie is a classic example of the phenomenon of a restaurant that gets booked out simply because he's on telly. I don't think I've ever seen quite such a mismatch between what people think they're getting and what they get." He added: "It's not much of a surprise, really. It's only a surprise if you get plugged into celebrity culture and don't think they can do anything wrong." Oliver's restaurant was not the only well-known establishment to come under fire from Harden's reporters. Several of Sir Terence Conran's restaurants were also rated poorly for their food, service and ambience. Conran's Bluebird in Chelsea was pasted for being a "total rip off" with slow and arrogant service and "utterly disappointing" cooking, while Cantina del Ponte in south-east London was labelled "disastrous" by some reporters. Others said: "I wouldn't eat there again if you paid me." Conran's brasserie chain Zinc was also slammed for "promising much and delivering little". Also joining the list of the worst performers was Oliver Peyton's Isola in Knightsbridge for its "dreadful" standards, Porters restaurant in Covent Garden for its "awful" food and "inattentive" service, and chain restaurants Belgo, Café Flo and TGI Friday's. But it was not all bad news for London's restaurateurs. Gordon Ramsay was voted as the city's top chef for the ninth year running and Tom Aikens's restaurant came fourth in the guide's Top Gastronomic Experience of the Year list after just one year in operation. The Ivy also retained its crown as London's favourite restaurant. But its nine-year rule could be ending, as Harden's reporters claimed it was becoming "more forgettable of late". The Wolseley, the new venture by the Ivy's former owners Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, could become the capital's new favourite, after taking eighth place in the guide's favourite restaurants list, the highest-ever position for a newcomer. *Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 2 September 2004*
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