The Narrow London

The Narrow London

3 5 Reviews

British in London - Limehouse
44 Narrow Street, Limehouse, London, E14 8DP
+44 (0) 20 7592 7950

The Narrow is Gordon Ramsay's first pub, located a Grade II-listed building in the Limehouse area of East London, directly alongside the River Thames. Given the area and the building's rich history, the decor of the pub retains the historic qualities of the building as well as relating the design to the locality and the history of the Limehouse area. Gordon Ramsay has created a warm and relaxed environment where the emphasis is on good quality food with real ales and ciders. The menu focuses on classic British dishes based around an array of seasonal ingredients. The Narrow is under the guidance of Mark Sargeant, Executive Chef at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, who continues to oversee the creative development of the pubs for Gordon Ramsay.
Tags: food, gastro pub, gastropub, price for 2 (exc. drinks): £45, pub, pub food, real ale, river views, riverside, riverside pub, terrace, views

The Narrow London Reviews

Great wine list, OK pub-grub-haven - There aren’t that many international super-stars of cookery, but the British chef Gordon Ramsay (who has no less than 12 Michelin stars against his name at the time I’m writing this) is rapidly becoming one of them.

In an intriguing turn of events, he has decided to open a series of pubs, serving good, wholesome British pub-grub at very reasonable prices. So, is he taking on the lucrative J.D.Wetherspoons market for cash, or does he actually have something to add to this vastly over-crowded pub market? If my visit to the Narrow is anything to go by, it’s a bit of both, really.

Jamie Oliver recently stuck his neck out in an effort to revive school dinners to something actually nearly edible. All credit to him. When I first heard of Ramsay’s attempt at opening pubs, I figured Ramsay was merely responding to his peer’s valiant efforts: Restoring the once-proud history of good pub-food to some of its former glory.

With some success, I must say. We decided to head to the Narrow as a bit of an experiment: I had recently acquired the UK Michelin guide, and the Narrow was down as one of the ‘Bib Gourmand’ cheap eat experiences. Booking a table a few days in advance proved effortless, and I was assured there was ‘plenty of options for vegetarians, too’. Awesome.

Arriving at the place, I was initially struck by how similar this was to, well, a pub. The front room is a simple drinking establishment, with the patio (with a fantastic view of the city and the Thames river) and the back room being the restaurant.

The menu was simple and predictable (this is pub food, after all), but I was particularly impressed with the prices. With starters ranging from £5-£8 and main courses clocking in at around £10 (with a £16 steak taking the ‘most expensive meal’ prize), it’s obvious that Ramsay here is chasing after the lower end of the market.

Wine and beer

What sets the Narrow apart from any other independently owned gastro-pub, however, was its rather phenomenal wine list. Around 50 wines and beers were available, and we were chomping at the bit for a lovely Pouilly-Fuiss.

First off, however, we were intrigued by the Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer, which turned out to be one of the better new beers I’ve tried in recent times. Quite strong (6.6% ABV), but completely lacking in bitterness without becoming too sweet, this was truly a discovery worth repeating. In fact, we ended up staying with the I&G for the rest of the evening, instead of switching to wine.

The food

The food at The Narrow was good. I had a Cream of Mushroom soup followed by a Cumberland Sausage and Mash, and both were rather excellent. Which isn’t to say that I haven’t had better: The Harcourt Arms and the Tempest in Marylebone both serve up more creative versions of bangers and mash, and I can make a comparable round of Mushroom soup and sausages and mashed potatoes in my own kitchen.

Which isn’t to say that the food is bad.

In fact, it does exactly what it says on the tin: Good, traditional dishes, cooked well, spiced well, and well presented. Exactly what you expect for the extremely competitive price, in fact.

The only thing is, well, it leaves me wondering why Ramsay is involved - the man is a legend among men, one of the finest chefs the UK has seen in a rather long time (not to mention a rather entertaining, if gutter-mouthed TV personality). I fail to understand why he feels the need to attach himself to a project that would have worked perfectly fine without

Then again, we did choose to go to the Narrow over any of the other gastro-pubs I know in London, and it was largely because of Ramsay’s affiliation, so I suppose the marketing strategy must be working, somehow

The verdict

I’m not sure if I should be disappointed or not. Instead of re-inventing and improving on the dishes available, Ramsay’s pub-grub-haven seems to have consigned itself to the fact that the wheel has been invented, and that there’s nothing more they can do.

The location of The Narrow is fabulous - it may be worth going during lunch-time rather than at night, so the full view of the river can be enjoyed - the wine list is rather spectacular, and the prices are highly affordable. It’s got an approachable, friendly atmosphere, and while the service is a bit whimsical, it’s a pretty good experience overall.

If you want to be surprised, the Narrow isn’t for you, but if you’re looking for a respectable, affordable where you can bring your in-laws without worry, you’ve found your place.

So, will I come back? Probably, but out of convenience rather than out of a heart-felt admiration: The Narrow is a £10 cab-fare from my house.

Sure, it does the trick, but its location means that unless you’re in the East London area anyway, you may as well go to one of your local gastro-pubs, for a virtually identical experience at a similar price, without lining the pockets of UK’s numero uno television chef.  
Tags: gastro pub, gordon ramsay, pub food

Rating  3

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good food, great venue - Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy The Narrow but not overly so. It’s just another pub serving good food; nothing that wowed me expect the wonderful location at the end of the Regent’s Canal at Limehouse, with every seat having a view of the Thames. Pretty spectacular. The service was great too as well as the wine selection, and if you’re an Ale person, this is the place to go (Banana Bread or Chocolate Ale anyone?).

I always set my expectations too high b/c it’s a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. I also seem to think I’m going to have a mind-blowing meal. I need to reset my expectations for his pubs. The food was good, not great. The potted salmon starter was really tasty and huge so you get a lot for your money. My main was decent – a fishcake that has more fish than potato which is always nice but the tartare sauce could have been better. The dessert was the biggest disappointment for me. I ordered the lemon and vanilla cheesecake. Yes, it tasted okay, but this was a refrigerator cheesecake (the no bake kind) which seemed like cream cheese mixed with sugar, lemon and real vanilla over a biscuit crust – a cheap way to make it which takes no time at all and certainly doesn’t test the chef’s baking skills. Being the cheesecake lover I am, I was hoping it would have been the real kind that takes time to make and is baked with a wonderful crust all the way around.

Nonetheless I’ll be back b/c it was good and you can’t beat those views on a sunny day.  

Rating  3

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Big and British - Just adding my 2 cents to the below reviews :) Indeed the Narrow is a great gastro pub. I went as part of a larger party, so we sat upstairs in the private dining room which was lovely and felt a bit like a gentleman’s club room , although having Gordon Ramsay's entire range of cookbooks leering at us from a glass cabinet did spoil the atmosphere a little (You know, just in case you forget whose pub this is or in case you get the urge to buy a cookbook at 10pm)
Still, the food we ate was good old gastro pub classics. Due to our party size we had to choose from a limited menu which was a bit of a shame, but there were no complaints about the food we received. My white onion and wild garlic soup was light yet flavoursome, and my fishcake was packed full of fish and interestingly crayfish as well. I only managed a small mouthful of chocolate tart which was super rich and a slither of cheese before having to crawl off into the night absolutely stuffed but blissfully content. Yes, the location is a little bit off the beaten track, but well worth a visit, especially if the sun is out and you can make use of the lovely terrace. Service was friendly and accommodating and the place was heaving when we left.  
Tags: gastro pub, riverside, terrace

Rating  4

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Yummy Pub Grub - Well Andy has posted a pretty comprehensive review of the Narrow, and I mostly agree with just about everything he said. The pub is lovely and its location is amazing, right smack dab on a corner of the Thames. It is a bit out of the way, so that makes this something of a destination restaurant and that, coupled with the points Andy made about the difficulty squaring 'down home neighborhood pub' with 'outsize personality chef', do provide a bit of a challenge.

Still, the food was great. We had a lot of sharing among the various selections and I found that the starters were a real treat, from the onion and garlic soup to the potted salmon. Mains were pretty good too, sticking with the straightforward pub grub menu. I had bangers and mash which were well done although I find that a lot of British sausages are not quite flavourful enough for me. The beef pies looked tremendous, though. Pudding was a highlight for me. I had an apple pie in custard that I rapidly devoured. Very sweet, but with great texture and good crust (which is key for any good pie). We also all shared a big cheese board which was tasty as well and came with plenty of fixings.

Ultimately I think that the thing with the Narrow is that it has to both provide a proper classic British pub experience whilst containing the character of Gordon Ramsay. The food and the experience at the Narrow was lovely, but because of the imprimatur of Ramsay, it resulted in dressing up ordinary (and tasty!) food that somewhat detracted from the total experience.  
Tags: good for groups, pub grub, riverside, views

Rating  4

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A Narrow Success - Gordon Ramsay made a good purchase when he recently bought and refurbished this historic riverside pub. The building itself is beautiful, and the river views are stunning. The Narrow is a pub to the core, complete with a basic menu and a focus on beers and ciders. True to form for a historic pub, there is also a skinny confusing entrance by the toilets and no clear place to go to find a host to seat you.

The food, in typical gastropub fashion, is essentially standard pub fare done well with some gourmet twists. Everything is nicely prepared, but many dishes could use some balance. The deviled lamb kidneys on toast is an overly generous portion, but could have used some greens, apple/pear, or anything at all on the side to cut the heaviness. The main courses should be ordered with a side of vegetables or potatoes because they come with almost nothing else on the plate. But then again, this is supposed to be pub food, i.e., piles of fat and protein washed down with fermented beverages, and balance is not really a hallmark of this type of food. I still want a salad.

If dinner had ended pre-pudding, I would have left with only a mildly positive impression of the restaurant, but the desserts were so amazingly delicious that I left with a huge smile on my face. Don't miss the bread and butter pudding - the best version of this I have ever encountered - and the cranberry tangerine crumble with vanilla ice cream was also incredibly tasty.

The main problem with The Narrow is Gordon Ramsay himself: The Narrow very much wants to be a neighborhood pub with good food at reasonable prices, but because it is a Ramsay restaurant it has become a destination and reservations are definitely needed well in advance. The trouble is that the food is too basic for all of the attention, and some may leave underwhelmed if they expect a higher class affair. Next time I will probably come back for lunch (better views, easier reservations), as long as they serve dessert.  
Tags: gastropub, Gordon Ramsay, pub, river views, riverside pub

Rating  4

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