Hard Rock Cafe London
More from Jamie Tabberer
When it comes to writing about one's dining experience at the Hard Rock Cafe London, there are a million places to start. It's the ORIGINAL Hard Rock Cafe, the place where this unstoppable, globally-renowned, rooted in everything rock and/or roll franchise first began (NOT Hollywood, or indeed anywhere American, despite occasionally garish appearances). We could start with Clapton's guitar. Or Madonna's leather jacket. Or the choice of music playing in the background (we're not one hundred percent sure but we think a Papa Roach song about suicide may have popped up...). Or maybe I could sit here and talk about the many strange and ridiculous badges worn by the waiting staff that I wanted to steal, or ramble on about the length of the queue comprised largely of noisy tourists that stretched half way to nearby Hyde Park.
But here's an idea: I'll start with the food. In fact, I'll focus solely on the food – this is what bolsters the Hard Rock name after all. For as alluring as the countless items of memorabilia are, and as shiny as the arguably overpriced items in the next door gift shop are, the food is an ever better sight to behold.
This is guilty pleasure food at its absolute best: how many times have you seen the word 'legendary' used on a menu to describe an eatery's burger and fought the urge to throw up? It's as cringe-inducing as BEP's Fergie releasing a song called Fergalicious. But in Hard Rock's case they have every right to big themselves up. Their 'LEGENDARY BURGERS' range (note caps lock) really *is* legendary, if for no other reason than the size of the burgers in question. The Hickory BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger was too generous to finish; a travesty really, as it was absolutely delicious, and the meat was roughly one thousand times higher quality than what you'll find in any number of fast food joints, and my goodness, you can really tell.
It's all very familiar of course; mere fodder at most restaurants, pubs and cafes, but here it's all presented so beautifully, so elaborately, so grandly, and tastes so far, far superior that it's like eating it for the first time. Take the potato skins for example: they actually LOOK nice, freshly cooked to perfection with evident care and attention instead of thrown in a microwave. The mind-bogglingly delicious fries were absolutely amazing - in fact their the best fries we've tasted in London, and let's not beat around the bush...that's quite an accolade. It's just so rare to find this sort of food of such a high quality, and while this is reflected in the price to extent, it's still not as expensive as you might think.
Trips to McDonald's probably don't ignite in many an adult the feelings of excitement and glee they did when they were children. But IF it's your thing, eating at Hard Rock transports you straight back to that frame of mind, and a time when delicious but unhealthy food (there's no denying that 75% of the menu IS unhealthy, but not missing a trick, you're still spolied for choice if you don't want leave having gained a stone) was still something of a special treat instead of just depressing. The Hot Fudge Brownie I don't...I can't even...I mean, it's indescribably good. That's a liberty but I'm going to take it. If I were to attempt to describe it I'd probably call it 'comically epic'.
There are also 'bite' desserts available if you're fit to burst by this point; tiny portions of chocolate mousse and strawberry cheesecake; suffice to say we tried a little bit of all of them and felt slightly giddy for the next three days.
The service was unflappable - the waiting staff exuded genuine enthusiasm for the food (not to mention the wide variety of equally showy cocktails) and the sit-down-and-get-to-know-you approach we found charming; it wouldn't work anywhere else but you expect it at a place like this, and you're better of embracing it, as it completely suits the energy.
Hard Rock Cafe London
150 Old Park Lane