It's been quite a week on the food front. After the light(ish) delights of the Tricolore, the week kicked off in boozy fashion at Planet Hollywood.
While I wouldn't have declared PH my greatest dining experience ever, the place has a lot of good memories for me. It was also the sort of place that, actually, was way better than you thought it was going to be.
Sadly, that was a while back and, despite the MPW input, in recent years the slump seemed to have set in. My last visit - perhaps five years back - was a night of blandness, grey deep frozen burgers and overpriced beers. However, aware that the chain was reducing the emphasis on movie memorabilia and focusing more on the food - the Vegas branch, for example, now includes a very well received steak house - and knowing that they're very capable of surprises, I popped along to the new location to test it out.
To give them some credit, it is early days. That might explain the typos on the menu - including one promising a particularly alcoholic cocktail is a "true taste of heave on earth" - the slightly slow bar service and a couple of other issues. The biggest complaint though? Why offer to cook my burger how I want it and then serve it well done? The burger itself wasn't bad at all, although the bread wasn't everything it could be. Chips were okay (even if they did come from a packet) and the chicken wings were excellent. Sadly the blackend shrimp, the first dish that years before had made me think "oh it's not just a theme restaurant", was under spiced and mushy.
Being snobby, we also wanted to see more bananas in the shared banana split, less of the spray whipped cream and a bit more creativity in the trimmings: a good fudge sauce, for example, or some salted butterscotch. Mind you, the chocolate ice cream was pretty darn good, some of the cocktails were very enjoyable - although at least two should never have seen the light of day - and the huge birthday parties that were in seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.
Clearly, with 30 branches worldwide, and Robert Earl having the sort of bank balance that, if it was mine, I'd check daily just to make me giggle, such "flaws" won't affect the crowds. It is what it is. It's just that for a tiny bit of effort - proper chips, a grill chef who knows what "medium" looks like, some improved ingredients - PH could lift itself out of the mainstream.