No Amore at This Restaurant

I rarely write a scathing review, as an ex-restaurateur myself, I am all too aware of the impact one can have. That does not, however, mean I don’t speak my mind, I say as I find and no holds barred; integrity and honesty are the keys to an honest and fair one.

A few weeks ago I sat in Gino D’Acampo’s in Leeds. The restaurant opened late last year and the place was buzzing. My husband and I were delighted with the place, the atmosphere is cracking and after a long drive to Leeds, welcomed the energy in the restaurant and so looked forward to dinner. Things did not go to plan. We left disgruntled but above all, very disappointed, we expected more with such an illustrious name over the door. Read the review and see what you think.

Gino d’Acampo, Leeds Published in the Yorkshire Post, March 2017

I’m not one for chain restaurants, even less so with a celebrity name attached to it. Why? For no other reason than there are so many independents where I would rather spend my money.

I did, however, once really like Pizza Express as back in the day they did a pretty good pizza, though I am going back quite some years. But that is about as far as it goes for me. So, just how I ended up on a very busy Friday night in Gino D’Acampo’s newish Italian restaurant on Park Row, Leeds, is anyone’s guess.

The chef and former reality TV star opened in Leeds a few months ago following on from the success of branches in London’s Euston station and Manchester. With just three restaurants under his name, this surely then is not a chain, but they come under the umbrella of Individual Restaurants which happens to be one of the UK’s leading restaurant companies with several brands to its name. Enough said.

 The restaurant was heaving, but this was a Friday and in the heart of Leeds nightlife so expected and what you hope for if you are Gino. Inside, Gino’s name is on every conceivable scrap of marketing material; his books are for sale and his need to impress exactly how many celebrities he knows grinned down at me from photos on every wall. If the food lives up to the hype on a menu that makes pleasant enough reading, then I can forgive this level of vanity as he is hardly the first chef to tout his name this way.

Staff are in abundance, and I took a guess that the ones miked up like Special Branch to be the more senior. But looking again, the waiter assigned to napkin folding also had a headset; maybe he was trying to drown out the very loud music? Like well-ordered soldiers, staff arrive one by one to do their duty: drinks order, tick; menu delivery, tick; arrival of drinks, tick; food order taken, tick …

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