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Restaurant review: Marco Pierre White's Steak House Bar and Grill, Chester

Gordo gets very, very angry

Written by . Published on September 21st 2010.

Restaurant review: Marco Pierre White's Steak House Bar and Grill, Chester

Chapter One: in which our hero gets het up about PR

Well, MPW (that’s Marco Pierre White, folks) has been open a while in Chester, with his ‘Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar and Grill’. It’s had a good deal of time to bed in. So Gordo pitches up one Saturday, early evening, doing a walk in. A young lady on the reception was charming, booking Gordo into a six o’clock slot.

Up North, we get a ‘10oz Rib Eye, garnished with grilled beef tomato and onion rings, béarnaise or au poivre sauce’ for the same price. ONION SODDING RINGS? Marco, my old mate, Gordo would need eight Viagra tabs and four fluffers from The Valley to get excited about that. The menu was a letdown. In fact, it’s downright patronising.

Gordo went to the opening of MPW’s other baby up here in the North, The Swan Inn at Aughton, near Ormskirk, four or five months ago. He liked it; it was the opening day mind you, and he had to swerve a PR company who seemed intent on ignoring Confidential’s 250,000 readers by going out of their way to irritate Gordo. Worse this seemed to indicate they were treating his beloved readers with contempt.

“Sorry Gordo”, said a PA, “they are allowing you one place and no plus one. They are rammed apparently. Oh, they can’t promise you an interview, TV’s there.”

Bread, good stuff

Now in Gordo’s world, that’s pretty rude.

If food critics are ever to have significant others, they won’t keep them by leaving them at home and seemingly having all the fun, so it is simple good manners to give that plus one. This PR company shouldn’t be in the food and drink game, they should stick to promoting cleaning products.

“Tell them to go and fuck off then,” says Gordo. He then picks up his phone and calls his pal Francis Carroll, who is the gaffer of MPW’s projects up here, on his private mobile.

“Francis, Gordo here. Can you get me a table for four on the opening day of The Swan Inn please?”

“Not a problem Gordo. Do you want to interview MPW?”

“Yes please Francis, I will bring Stephanie de Leng for the photos as well; I will of course pay my bill as usual”.

The PR guy was spitting feathers when MPW spent all of his pre-lunch time with Gordo, ignoring the BBC.

The story of the day can be found here. Francis, a pro in the restaurant game, knew how important the Confidential readership was and they love him as well. Gordo did one of the all-time best interviews with Marco, which resulted in thousands and thousands of people reading the piece, probably more than read AA Gill that week.

Chapter two: our hero and his mate, Bernard Matthews

Back to Chester. Now, MPW has got himself into some hot water for becoming Bernard Matthew’s front man. Ainsley Harriot had a pop at him. I bet MPW is shaking in his boots. Ainsley, let him without sin cast the first...and so on.

Gordo would happily front for Bernard. Because, as his daughter delights in telling all and sundry at every opportunity, Gordo has a dirty, filthy food secret.

Two Bernard Matthews turkey drummers, cooked to a crisp, split in half, each one laid on a slice of Warburton’s fresh-as-you-please thick sliced white, buttered very thickly with Lurpak and doused in Heinz tomato ketchup. Yum, double yum.

So, Gordo forgives MPW. He also knows how expensive not being gay can be.

Chapter three: in which our hero ponders a famous divide

The restaurant is inside a Hilton Hotel, off a roundabout on the ring road. You walk through a modern reception into the restaurant area, which has a good, fifties’ style bar where you will probably find every alcoholic beverage known to man, a proper boozer’s bar. You can have a few scoops in here waiting for Gordo to finish his dinner if you want. Gordo was ushered straight to his table for two, in a sunny window overlooking immaculately cut lawns.

Crab, good by the way

The tables are spread with crisp, clean linen; there is a feeling of understated luxury with seating to match. Within half an hour, even for this early sitting, the place is filling up with good looking, friendly faces, everyone at ease and chatting away. It’s a good feel all right.

Gordo has known MPW’s cooking, having done a fair bit of mistress-interviewing in his twenties at Harvey’s, his renowned three star Michelin restaurant south of the river in London. Just a couple of years ago, Gordo called into The Yew Tree, south of Newbury. This is MPW’s homage to the traditional country restaurant. The menu there is awesome. You can read Gordo’s review here.

What Gordo was looking forward to was the upgrade to Escoffier recipes that the Yew Tree menu had achieved, picking some great traditional dishes that had been around for eighty years and doing ABSOLUTELY FUCK ALL different to them. Just ensuring they were done well.

He's behind you Peachy!

Chefs, please take note. You cannot improve on croustade oeufs de caille maintenon. Just cook it well. The punters will flock to you. Give me a chef that can produce a perfectly steamed tranche of turbot on wilted spinach with light, buttery, lemony hollandaise to go on top. Yum.

Unfortunately in Chester the menu is a cut down of the Yew Tree Inn menu. It’s a disappointment.

Down south, at The Yew Tree, we get four different rib eye steaks; no weight quoted, you can be sure they will be chunky. One of the choices, ‘au poivre noir, grilled oysters, jus a la Parisienne (£19.50)’. Now, dear reader, how absolutely horny does that sound? When Gordo first saw that, he wanted to wolf it down, grab one of the buxom bar maids, drag her round the back and give her a good seeing to.

Up North, at The Steakhouse Bar and Grill, we get a ‘10oz Rib Eye, garnished with grilled beef tomato and onion rings, béarnaise or au poivre sauce’ for the same price. ONION SODDING RINGS? Marco, my old mate, Gordo would need eight Viagra tabs and four fluffers from The Valley to get excited about that. The menu was a let-down. In fact, it’s downright patronising.

The horror story. Calves liver

Chapter four: in which our hero gets steaming angry

But, what about the quality of the food?

Down south, the Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps (£12.50) were a master class in freshness and taste. Simplicity as well, served with fantastic bread. Gordo’s Morecambe Bay brown shrimp cocktail, Marie Rose sauce (£10.50), up north was awful. The sauce was bland, watery even. The shrimps had no taste whatsoever; it was as if they had been sent down south, stood around for a couple of days and sent back up north for us lot to put up with.

The kipper paté with whisky and Melba toast (£5.50) was liked by Gordo’s pal Peachy, but not to Gordo’s taste, the whisky needs to be in the background, smoking out a good fresh kipper flavour. This one had been beaten with a heavy hand.

Kipper pate, more toast for a start please chef

Main courses: down south, ‘roast partridge, properly garnished’ (£14.50) was just that, properly garnished and delightful. Up north, Gordo gets a pretty tasteless ‘spatchcocked chicken with chipolatas, bread sauce’ (£14.50). He should have ordered something different really; for God’s sake, there are loads of partridges about up here but the patronising arse who owns this franchise thinks we will be ok with a poussin, a baby chicken that has not had time to develop flavour.

Overdone as well. Gordo could have had them done under the Trades Description Act. There was one mean little pale ‘chipolata’. Go on guys, go for broke and give us two; or maybe a proper sausage at least? You know, one that tastes a little piggy?

Gordo did bread sauce on Sunday at home. Pint of full fat milk, onions, cloves, peppercorns, couple of bay leaves, bring to the boil, turn off, leave for a couple of hours, remove bits, 4oz of breadcrumbs, mixed in, heated up, season to taste.

That, Chef, is how BLEEDING EASY it is to make the stuff. Pouring consistency of double cream, not fast setting concrete. Read Delia guys. Because Gordo would rather cut his fingers off than serve what you lot did.

Peachy had the calf’s liver and bacon with fried onions, (£16.50). This was well done. Peachy had asked for it pink, ‘but not bloody’. Maybe not the clearest of instructions but most good chefs will know precisely what she meant. This was overcooked and had that weird texture you can get with calves liver; crumbly, nearly paté like consistency, floury.

Gordo would welcome someone explaining what is wrong here. All Gordo knows is that it is unpleasant. Peachy sent it back to the chef, with Gordo explaining what the problem was, particularly that crumbly, floury gamey thing that was going on. Could he try it and pass an opinion?

Presentation is fine, the chips were great

It came back a few minutes later.

“Chef says there was nothing wrong with it, you asked for it well done and he didn’t use any flour in the cooking”. This new example was exactly the same. Peachy took one bite and left it to one side. We will deal with this in a minute.

Triple cooked chips, creamed potatoes, green beans , all at £3, were great, if expensive.

Raspberry soufflé (£6) was outstanding, as was the cheese, ‘a choice of five local cheeses, quince jelly’ (£8). Maybe a tad cold. Only three pieces arrived, although there was a little magic going on with the chutney and boozy fruits which weren’t advertised but happily sitting on the plate.


The wine list is well chosen but ‘middling’, most wines under the thirty quid mark with a few super starts thrown in. Not much going on in the mid range if anyone is looking for something special without breaking the bank.

Back to the calves liver.

Chef, you patronising excuse of a supposed professional, how dare you treat a complaint like that? You, my friend, are not MPW and let me say, even if you were, you would have been toe to toe with Gordo and Mickey Tierney’s favourite axe if you had ever treated him like that.

You are the embodiment of everything that is wrong with this restaurant. It thinks it can talk down its nose to northerners. It should be shut, cleaned out, started again with a facsimile of The Yew Tree menu and the same standard of cooking. Francis, get a grip on the kitchen brigade in here.

But not front of house. They are of the highest order and get a rare 5/5 for their endeavours.

Ready for my close up Mr Gordo...

Follow Gordo on twitter GordoManchester

Breakdown:4/10 food
5/5 service
4/5 ambience
Address:Marco Pierre White’s Steak House Bar and Grill
Doubletree by Hilton Chester
Warrington Road, Hoole
Chester CH2 3PD
01244 408830

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJune 14th 2010.

****ing brilliant.

Nigel SlaterJune 14th 2010.

Excellent review. A real proper restaurant review!

Steak House B&G ChefJune 14th 2010.

Could you taste my saliva garnish Gordo?

WappingJune 14th 2010.

As soon as I saw the word "Hilton" I rather knew what to expect. Ok so it's MPW at the Hilton but that attitude is their trademark.

Mathew Sloane - Wine Writer - SommelierJune 14th 2010.

Gordo,Absolute beast of a review. If I was managing that chef I'd have the prick in the car park if he sent me or any of my staff back out with a plate of shite. Absolutely incredible that he got through the interview process. Sounds like MPW or his senior management have really taken their collective eye off the ball here. I've eaten some of my favourite food of all time across his venues. Chicken and sausages? Steak with onion rings? Somebody's having a laugh and it certainly won't be anybody having to pay for this tosh.Many thanks for an honest, entertaining and useful review.

Grim Up NorthJune 14th 2010.

Gordo, I had tears rolling down my face with laughter. It was worth you going through that experience and enduring that food so we could enjoy the experience of your wordsmanship. It's so rare to see critics writing with such passion and I hope the Great Man Himself gets a chance to see this five-star review. I'd love to know what the nice PR people thought of your visit.....

Professor Chucklebutty (Call me PYC)June 14th 2010.

A superb read, Mr Gordo. I think patronising menu sounds a fair judgement. Yates Wine Bar and most of the local pubs have a more exciting sounding lunch menu and on this evidence, clearly more honesty about them. (although I could never order the Smothered Chicken, which seems needlessly cruel. I am surprised the RSPCA hasn't had something to say.) So, MPW Onion Rings, eh? "Fresh when they were frozen?" To quote a famous Torquay hotelier. Is this really a case of it’ll do for oop north? Or is this the influence of the Hilton? Three times I have dined at a Hilton (not the new Liverpool one….one) and three times I have been left thinking, I thought this was supposed to be up-market? This is average Pub Grub! A very funny and expert review that raises all sorts of questions about the north and south, trading on a name and Ainsley (good for a quick packet of couscous) Harriot. Enjoyed every word which I hope makes up for your dinner. Still, if I were you and visited again in a few months, I would keep a look out for MPW in a BMW doing 70 MPH to ensure your next meal is NHS……TTFN.

Phil McCrackenJune 14th 2010.

Excellent review Gordo. Honest and telling it as it should be.As a genius chef that I admire so much I'm not sure where MPW is headed these days and the quality that he endorses. Knorr, Bernard Matthews, Walkers Crisps for Gods sake. Also all the crappy Hells Kitchen rubbish. What's going on Marco?

DigJune 14th 2010.

I think it's called 'selling out'. If he hadn't already gave his Michelin stars up I think Michelin would be asking for them back. It seems the only star MPW cares about now is his own celebrity.

DigJune 14th 2010.

Gordo you might want to book a table at The Swan Inn on 7th July. MPW is attending to meet guests and sign books that particular day. A good opportunity to vent your spleen and maybe eat one too.

A. GribeauxJune 14th 2010.

The Swan Inn in Wood Street, Dig? Sounds like it's really gone downhill then.

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