London Galling

Dessert selections are as unimaginative as everything else, though pot de crme, a French custard, was aptly rich and dense, and key lime pie capped with whipped cream was pleasingly puckery. Bailey's chocolate crme brùlée sounded mildly enticing, but they were sold out.

Good people open bad restaurants. Good cooking schools, as a rule, do not. That's because these dining establishments serve as the institution's public face, a place where diners can thrill to the cutting-edge skills of a future generation of chefs -- and judge the school accordingly. Having London Tavern serve as a showcase for a culinary institute is like using Ronald McDonald as poster boy for PETA.

Not all is hopeless: Johnson & Wales can turn lemons into lemonade. I mean literally, take lemons and turn them into lemonade so there's a noncarbonated, nonalcoholic beverage other than water. Then they can wipe the walls clean: Choose students interested in restaurant design to lead a remodeling effort (or pick students with no interest in design whatsoever -- believe me, they've got nothing to lose). Seek student input for composing a menu that reflects what's going on in the restaurant world of today, not fifteen years ago. Improve the humdrum wine list by adding a few boutique vintners. Have the pastry department devise desserts more compelling than key lime pie. Food and wine service need an upgrade as well. In short, use the "practicum facility" for what it's intended -- to impart to students, in a real-time, real-life manner, the knowledge and skills they'll need once they graduate and enter the industry. (Hint: Most professional chefs are rarely required to prepare turkey wraps.)

London Tavern provides an invaluable learning experience: This is not the way to do it
Jonathan Postal
London Tavern provides an invaluable learning experience: This is not the way to do it

Details

305-868-4141. Open for breakfast Monday through Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., dinner nightly 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Sunday brunch 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
9601 E. Bay Harbor Dr, Bay Harbor Islands

The alternative, of course, is to leave London Tavern as-is, which can also be viable as a learning tool. The place serves as an exemplary, all-encompassing model for everything you should not do when operating a restaurant.

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