By Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Gordon Ramsay once joked that Frank Bruni was so important he was going to have his face printed on the pillows of his waiters. Alas, the efforts of Britain's most famous chef to please the restaurant critic of The New York Times have been dashed.
Three months after Ramsay opened his first US restaurant, the London NYC, on 16 November, Bruni has finally delivered his verdict. It was critical and not a little humbling for a chef determined to crack America.
Out of a maximum four stars, Bruni awarded the London NYC just two, "very good" - well short of the "excellent" or "extraordinary" to which Ramsay would have aspired. The central failing Bruni identified was the timidity at the "icily" decorated restaurant - the first of three Ramsay eateries in the US.
Bruni made much of Ramsay's reputation for being foul-mouthed in his television shows, but he suggested the brashness had not been matched by boldness in the kitchen.
In a 1,400-word review, he wrote: "For all his brimstone and bravado, his strategy for taking Manhattan turns out to be a conventional one, built on familiar French ideas and techniques that have been executed with more flair, more consistency and better judgment in restaurants with less vaunted pedigrees."
He complained: "Most ingredients are predictable, most flavours polite, most effects muted. "Mr Ramsay may be a bad boy beyond the edges of the plate but in its centre, he's more a goody-two-shoes."