London Grill

We took the night off from Burger Week last night because I had a conference to attend at work followed by dinner at London Grill. The company was great and I had a lot of laughs and good moments during dinner but I was entirely underwhelmed by the food. Our server, who was a very nice girl before the moon had fully risen in the sky, started us out with a plate of marinated mushrooms.

Marinaded Mushrooms

Marinated Mushrooms

I’m not sure what they were marinated in besides olive oil. They had no flavor, not even salt. I don’t have a picture of the bread that was at the table but that was actually pretty good. From what I tasted, it was an asiago cheese foccacia bread. We were served generic supermarket olive oil to dip the bread in that was handsomely dressed with 1 bay leaf and 3 capers, of all things.

Szechuan Duck Spring Rolls with Asian Slaw, Hoisin Sauce and Peanuts

Szechuan Duck Spring Rolls with Asian Slaw, Hoisin Sauce and Peanuts

Next up came our appetizers. I ordered the Szechuan duck spring rolls that were said to come with Asian slaw, hoisin sauce and peanuts. There were at least 4 peanuts on my plate. It was nice of them to be so generous with the peanuts. Thank god for the hoisin sauce, which I slathered all over the dry duck. My first impression upon tasting the spring rolls was that they had secretly replaced the duck for a char sui pulled pork. I’ve never had duck that was so dry! I understand the amount of pressure and timing that comes with cooking for a large group all at once but there is no excuse for overcooked food. There is also no excuse for calling a shredded piece of carrot “Asian slaw”.

Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Asparagus

Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Asparagus

Next up came the entrees. I shared with everyone at my table so I got to sample a few things. Two things I don’t have pictures of were the fillet, which was standard, that came with a terrible sauce that tasted like a 1/2 and 1/2 combination of BBQ sauce and ketchup. The other thing I sampled was their brick chicken which was moist and flavourful but lacked good sides to support it. I ordered the potato gnocchi, which were indeed hand cut but whoever made them would be incredibly pissed off to see how they delivered on the plate. Some of them were overcooked and some of them were undercooked. This was mind boggling. They were sitting around in a white sludge sauce that tasted like a simple roux with no cheese or seasoning to give it flavor. The mushrooms and asparagus that were mixed in with the gnocchi tasted very good and I wished I’d had more of them.

Crab Cake with Tartar Sauce, Asparagus and Boiled Red Potatoes

Crab Cake with Tartar Sauce, Asparagus and Boiled Red Potatoes

The crab cake, however, was a disaster!! I am convinced they made the cakes with claw meat instead of jumbo lump crab, for one, and two, the entire outside of the cake was seared to a char. I am also convinced that the crab cakes were made on a conveyor belt. The cakes were suspiciously round to a perfected level and all of them were the same width and height. It was paired with a tartar sauce, some sad looking boiled potatoes and 6 sprigs of anorexic asparagus. This was so bad that I wished I hadn’t given away 1/2 of my gnocchi to get it. Now that’s saying something.

Truffle Fries

Truffle Fries

One thing from our menu that I really wanted to try was London Grill’s take on truffle fries. I am not as crazy about the liberal use of truffle as the boy but I do like to have some truffle in my diet. So, against my better judgement, I tried some of the truffle fries. Well, as noticable in the picture, these skinny little shoestring fries were overcooked as well. Even worse, there was no truffle. None. I tried 7 bites in total and wasted about 150 calories on these greasy, crispy suckers but each one was as blah as the first. It was such a shame because I started thinking of all the stellar gnocchi they could have pumped out had those potatoes not been wasted.

Thinking nothing could have competed with the train wreck of dinner, I was really looking forward to dessert. Sometimes dessert can change your mind about a restaurant. A good dessert could have erased the memory of some forgotten utensils, too-warm red wine and declining service. A good dessert could have made me rethink my review and include phrases of, “it wasn’t as bad as it looks” and “the pictures my phone takes just suck”. When it came time for everyone to get dessert, though, I did not receive one. So I asked our now frazzled server if she could get me a chocolate soufflé. Her response? “I don’t have another one.”

Uhhhhh… what?

So I asked again if I could have one and she responded this time with, “I’ll just tell them to throw another one in the microwave for you.”  This should have been my cue to say, “No, that’s fine, I don’t need dessert.” However, I was really counting on this being the savior of the meal; the Jesus Christ of the London Grill. After a few minutes, she returned with my soufflé. Please study the picture below before continuing to read.

Chocolate Soufflé with Hazelnut Sauce and Whipped Cream

Chocolate Soufflé with Hazelnut Sauce and Whipped Cream

As you can probably tell from this picture if you know anything about soufflé at all, this was not a soufflé. I’m not sure why they said it was or called it soufflé on the menu but soufflé this was not. This was cake. The telltale signs of soufflé were completely absent. No rise, no fall, no ramekin. Still a fan of most anything chocolate, I spooned off a section anyway (as you can see above). Wait a minute? What’s that resistance I feel with my cake that is masquerading as a soufflé? Ohhhhh, it’s ice! Oh, silly me, of course! Why wouldn’t I have a frozen cake that is masquerading as a soufflé? Life makes perfect sense.

And if I may, I’d like to make a short note about the service there. Our waitress really did start out strong but, boy, did she decline quickly. She started to complain about the orders, the plates and, most notably, how she had to keep going up and down the stairs. Our party was in a private room off the main floor that was accessibly by going up or down a grand total of 5 to 6 steps. I’m not sure what she wanted to accomplish through all of this complaining but it was not attractive. Furthermore, when a customer asks you for something, don’t say you’re going to throw it anywhere, especially if the location of the throwing of the food item is in the microwave. I understand that not everything is cooked to order at every restaurant but you should not respond in that fashion to a customer. Needless to say, I would not recommend London Grill to anyone who doesn’t even appreciate food and good service let alone to someone who does.

London Grill
2301 Fairmount Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19130


~ by canadianbaconette on May 8, 2009.

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