As we approached the entrance of Gilgamesh, we were instantly in awe. The building itself is situated slap bang in the middle of Camden Lock and is hard to miss due to it's single doorway opening onto an escalator and the carved wooden exterior which is a theme throughout the building. It's hard to miss and, if you've ever been to Camden, it's probably somewhere you've walked past before without actually realising what it was.
Once at the top of the escalator, we found ourselves in a foyer waiting for our booking to be found. Through the door we could see the bustling, lively, atmospheric and beautifully wooden carvings of the main restaurant. However, to our disappointment, we were led through the bar area and sat in what can only be described as an overflow section (brace yourselves...I'm leading up to a massive rant).
Once seated, we began to browse the menu. Gilgamesh runs a pan-Asian theme throughout the menu with the sushi being the key feature. Yes, it was pricey. But I kind of expect that when it comes to good quality sushi. I'm not sure I'd trust "bargain bin" raw fish to be honest!
We decided to have a selection of starters to share. Sashimi was an obvious choice for us as we both experience weird non-pregnancy cravings for the stuff from time to time, but I can't see squid on any menu without wanting it so that was quickly ordered too! As you can see, the presentation was amazing. Served on a bamboo mat over dry-ice, it definitely had the wow factor. This selection here (salmon, tuna, yellowtail and seabass) was £17.50 which, having compared this with other sushi brand sashimi, is actually pretty reasonable.
Scallop sashimi was added as afterthought as I'd heard it being raved about but was yet to try it myself. It was nice...but think I'd stick to cooked scallops in future!
This was the crispy squid with garlic chips and chilli, presented to look as if it is a portion of chips. I LOVED this! The chilli and garlic made a very normal dish into something a little bit different.
Time for the mains. My lovely lady friend (don't get any ideas) opted for the Beef Bulgogi with Chive Mash. £22.50 for this which, for a very good quality piece of meat, didn't seem too bad. Can't say it was my cup of tea but she seemed to enjoy it!
I went for the Hoba Miso Chilean Sea bass. I'd spotted this as soon as I opened the menu. However, at £32.00 for this piece of fish on it's own, I thought it was a total rip off! I accept that sea bass is naturally quite expensive but I thought this was ridiculous. To be honest, it was pretty average flavour-wise and could've done with being served to me a few degrees hotter. Definitely a poor judgement call by me on this occasion...
To finish, we shared a dark chocolate pudding with a centre of lemon curd and pistachio ice-cream. It was nice but very sickly. I'm not a massive chocolate lover at the best of times but this really was a bit much. The ice-cream was lovely though and was a welcome refreshing relief after everything we'd just eaten.
I can't fault Gilgamesh for the setting or the food (apart from the misjudged sea bass!). It was luxurious and lavish, which is what we had been expecting. However, when it comes to the overall service, I don't even know where to begin with how rubbish it was.
I suppose an obvious place to start is 6 weeks ago when I made the inital booking. Having seen on their website that they do a set menu for £55, I decided to call Gilgamesh to see if we had to pre-book that menu option or if we could just choose it on the night. I was told that we could choose that option on the night and, subsequently, decided I may as well make my booking over the phone there and then which the lady on the phone took all the details for.
Fast forward to 6 weeks later, standing at the bottom of that infamous escalator, waiting for the lady with the clipboard to find our booking. Nothing. "Are you sure you booked for Gilgamesh?" she asks. Eeeeerm yes I am absolutely sure. After 10 minutes of faffing about, we get taken to the foyer where we go through the same routine of being asked when/where/how/who/what made our booking. At this point I was asked to show them my confirmation email of which I had none. I explained that my booking was verbally confirmed to me over the phone and I had no idea I was even meant to expect a confirmation email. FINALLY we get told we can have a table but it won't be in the main restaurant area. We get led to the bar area which has nice tables in the window so we think it's going to be OK, until we get told that, despite being asked to choose a table, we actually can't sit anywhere near there so we end up in the above mentioned overflow area. Gutted much??
Issues continue when we open the menu to see no sign of the set-menu. When asking the waitress, we are told the set-menu does not exist. To this, I get their website up on my phone and show her the "non-existent" menu. She disappears off and reappears telling us it is not available on Saturday or Sunday nights. At this point I am fuming. I explain to her I originally called the restaurant in the first place to discuss this menu option and was told it was all doable. Regardless, we realise it is not specifically her fault so basically have to sit down and shut up. Because of this, our bill ended up being £100 MORE than what we had prepared for due to ordering from the a la carte menu. I'm all for having the occasional pricey dinner but, quite frankly, that was taking the piss.
We tried to make the most of it and did have a nice evening but it was massively tainted by the cock-ups which were made from the start. To top it off, I sent an email of complaint to them the following day (something which I genuinely have never done before) and didn't get any sort of acknowledgement from them until over a week later. Now, I could be wrong here but, in all the restaurants/companies I've worked for, any complaints should be acknowledged within 24 hours, even if it's just to say that they are getting around to looking into the issue. From looking at recent reviews, it seems we are not alone on thinking their customer service leaves alot to be desired...
As I said at the start, I really did want to love Gilgamesh and I hate having to write a bad review. But it'll take a lot for me to hand over (a lot of) my hard-earned cash to them again.