DJNL recently paid a visit to Laurier BBQ, the renowned rotisserie located in Outremont, which for about six short months had famously collaborated with celebrity chef and TV personality, Gordon Ramsay, to become the latest lucky establishment to undergo one of the “famous chef swoops in and “fixes” the restaurant” makeovers that have helped turn a gaggle of culinary experts into television rock stars (not since Wok with Yan has cooking TV been so captivating).The media coverage of the seemingly perfect coupling of Ramsay and the restaurant had Montrealers all over the island talking; so too did the coverage of their nasty split.
Despite all the drama, I was still happy to be finally giving this Montreal institution a try. I had never visited the restaurant before the Ramsey transformation so what I have to say about my experience is limited to what it has become.
If I were to be positive about anything concerning the restaurant, it would be the décor. When I opened the door and walked in, my first impression was that it felt like a cleaned up, revamped version of what it might have been before. As I looked around, the atmosphere evoked a feeling of a family owned, urban-country eatery with white wooden walls, stacks of jars containing ingredients they would surely use to make our food and an overall modern yet comfortable feel. Though as pretty as the place was, the décor is where I stopped being impressed.
The service at the restaurant was deplorable. We were a relatively small group, practically alone in the section where we were seated. One area of the restaurant had a couple of busy tables and the other had our table and a couple that appeared to be out for a Saturday night date. Despite the small number of hungry patrons, it took forever to get drinks brought to our table and the waiter appeared as if serving us was getting in the way of whatever else he had to do.
When he finally brought the drinks to the table, we placed our orders and it took longer than it should to get the quality of the food we received. I was really disappointed. The chicken tasted like it had been thawed from frozen and the sauce might as well come from a container that had been sitting so long that all the spices had settled to the bottom. I expect this from those larger chain restaurants that pop out cookie cutter meals to hundreds of people every day. It should be said be that when it comes to the quality of the service and the food at Laurier BBQ, those large chains may be doing it just as good or better.
Upon leaving the restaurant I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like at there before Ramsay came along and waved his magic wand. Maybe my expectations were high because of the chatter generated by the celebrity chef or maybe this is the way it always has been. Not to ruffle any feathers, but either way, I don`t think I’ll be going back anytime soon.