London Riots Come to The Ledbury

Will and I were going to celebrate with a night out at 2 Michelin star restaurant The Ledbury.  I had come to terms with the fact that it would be an expensive dinner, but boy, I had no idea how expensive.

Around the fourth dish of the tasting course, there were loud bangs outside.  The restaurant staff was yelling at us to get away from the windows.  Before I knew it, the front door, a solid piece of glass shattered and people came crashing in with hoodies, masks, and random weapons.

The looters were yelling at us to get down and throwing stuff all over the place. I got down and started taking off my wedding and engagement ring to hide somewhere, but unfortunately wasn’t fast enough. One looter came up and demanded my phone. I didn’t have it with me since it was in my purse and it was out of arm reach. I also didn’t want to lead him to my passport, so I said I didn’t have one.

He told me to take off my rings and grabbed my hand, trying to yank them off. His friend tried to help too, but the rings wouldn’t come off and I just yelled at him that I’d take them off myself. In hindsight, now that I know that gun control is so fierce in England and he only had bat, I should have held on to my rings better and maybe slugged him in the face.

The kitchen staff at the Ledbury went beyond their call of duty by rushing up from the kitchen with rolling pins, fry baskets, and other dangerous kitchen tools and scared off the looters. Then they provided well-needed glasses of alcohol including champagne and whisky.  When word came that the looters were coming back a second time, they ushered us into the bathrooms and told us to lock the doors. A few minutes later, they led us into the wine cellar and told us to lock ourselves in there.

Well, that was certainly a memorable dining experience. I was kind of hoping to finish the rest of my tasting menu, but all the broken glass, turned over tables, probably wasn’t conducive to a nice dining environment.  I was sad for the wonderful smelling cheese cart that had glass littered all over it. So much cheese gone to waste!

Guy who took my ring, I hope you put it to good use and don’t just dump it in the street.  Also, I hope you get a case of flaming diarrhea for the rest of your life. Ledbury staff, thanks for keeping things under control and giving me some petit fours to munch on.

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Comments

  1. kat says

    Gosh… Words fail me, so sorry about you loosing your rings. But way to go the staff of the Ledbury!!!
    glad you were all ok physically, as I was watching these events unfold on all media etc my thoughts were of those unfortunate to live above shops etc…. keep safe.
    I am lucky that I now live in a very sleepy part of NZ!

  2. says

    It is amazing that considering the circumstances, your rhetoric is so composed. You are so brave.
    Its terrible what happened to you, whats happening to London. Stealing wedding ring? – can it get any lower than that?

    • Rosie says

      Please get over yourself. Brave are what the police, fireman and paramedics are. Brave is what the people who are not out trying to protect their homes and businesses are. Brave is the three men who were mown down and killed while trying to protect their community. Brave is what the staff at the restaurant were. You have lost a couple of rings. Your blog is a display of someone who has no clue of the real world. It is pathetic in light of what has been going on, women jumping from burning buildings etc. You were worried about finishing your meal and consuming the cheese board. God give me strength.

  3. Attiq Ahmed says

    Am so sorry to have heard about the Ledbury but happy to learn no one got seriously hurt. Hats off to the Ledbury staff and thank you for the first hand account. Hope it ends soon! I Love Londoners family of the rioters I refuse to include in the greater metropolitan family of this great city!

  4. says

    Just reeling after reading this. This kind of thing has happened in Johannesburg but I am aghast that it happened in London too. Very sorry to hear about your rings and the terrifying experience – but at least you did not get a bat to the head. Big kudos to the staff who stood their ground and kept guests as safe s they could.

  5. Maxim says

    Looters must be shot on spot. The price of their actions for the society is enormous. Bring on the German, Italian, South Korean police. Bring on the Russian, for God’s sake! They will put the town in order in a matter of hours.

    • Will says

      I have to say, I was actually relieved that in this situation, no one had a gun, and I have to think that the UK’s strict gun control laws have something to do with it. On the flip side, I would *not* have felt safer if one of the patrons had had a gun. We aren’t happy about losing two rings with significant sentimental value, but it’s much more important that no one was seriously harmed.

      • Wilber says

        Um….personally having used firearms and being an owner of them, I’d have great reluctance in pulling the trigger on someone.

        However, life is sacred, and if my life were threatened by some thug who was probably off his head on meth or just intent on causing physical hurt or death for a thrill, I would not hesitate to defend myself or others by whatever means necessary.

        Just because we are a sophisticed civilisation, dont believe for a minute of it all goes to pot, that people will continue to be civil – thats very Pollyana-ish.

        The best gun is the one thats never used. However….

  6. says

    How utterly terrifying for all involved,but pleased to hear that the restaurant staff handled it so well. The Ledbury is one of my favourite restaurants…the current events in London are disgusting and the loss of your rings tragic.

  7. says

    Thank you for this account of the riots – it’s good to read something that is not coming out of the papers. I’m sorry you lost your rings, and had such a terrifying experience. It is good though to hear that the restaurant staff were so courageous – they should add bravery to the criteria for earning Michelin Stars!

  8. my precious says

    “In hindsight, now that I know that gun control is so fierce in England and he only had bat, I should have held on to my rings better and maybe slugged him in the face.”

    That could have made things much worse. I believe you did the right thing, no matter how much personal value that ring may have had for you at the end of the day it’s just an object.

    You mention he only had a bat, that’s still a harmful weapon and could have gotten you on a wheelchair for the rest of your life. Think about that.

    Everyone in good shape, that’s the important bit.

  9. says

    The violence is appalling. Clearly this generation of hooligans, have grown up on a healthy diet of football fanaticism combined with even more violent video games. This is TERRORISM of the BRITISH kind…

    • says

      NO it’s not terrorism! Bloody hell. It’s vandalism and robbery; however distressing that might be to experience, there’s a huge gulf between someone not getting to the cheese course and bombs being set off in planes. Get some perspective. And maybe, everyone, stay home during riots rather than going out to eat in Michelin restaurants…
      Pfft.

  10. says

    I feel, as a Brit, I should apologise for your experience. Admittedly I am not located in the UK at the moment, I am in Athens, Greece where we have our own share of (regular) excitement. But at least the Greeks do so with a REASON and a certain style and panache about it too.
    I put it down to Southern Europeans having many more morals and values.

    See my recent post: http://leavingcairo.blogspot.com/2011/08/athens-vs-london

    about Athens vs London in the riot/social unrest stake.
    I hope your trip’s not been ruined too much. I am due to come ‘home’ for a visit this week – I hope it’ll be ok.

  11. says

    Unbelievable. Very sorry you lost your ring, but I’m glad you are safe. Can’t imagine the chaos. Three cheers for the staff. I think I’m going to make sure to have dinner at that restaurant when I’m in London. I’ll also make sure to tell the manager that I’m there because their staff was so amazing during your experience.

  12. Bob Brown says

    That’s not a memorable incident. That’s a fracking disaster. I hope they catch the thieves and rioters and send them back to whatever hell hole they came from. Pay them $10k and take away their citizenship, drop them off in Somalia. They’re turning the country into a cess pool.

  13. says

    That’s so horrible to hear that you had to go through that! I live in London and it had seemed (until I read your post) that the riots weren’t affecting the more affluent areas. Hopefully it will all be over soon.

  14. Giovanna says

    Wow. This is such a stunning account;it really drives home how destructive rioting is. It’s one thing to see the physical damages, the before and after shots of burnt out buildings, but it is quite another to hear accounts so well articulated that it feels as if you could be the one retelling it. I doubt you’ll find your ring, but you can always get a new one. You do have your safety and even if that rioter only had a baseball bat, those thing can do plenty damage. And what an amazing restaurant staff- I hope they all get well deserved bonuses from some of the insurance money.

  15. Deborah says

    Agreed Jeanne, In South Africa this is par for the course but arent’t we here because it doesn’t happen here? Sad that you’ve been exposed to this and lost something so special and irreplacable to you! I cannot believe though that in this forst world country this can be allowed to happen! Kids on the rampage have us all in fear? How dare they!

    To Ledbury staff- good on you!You too ‘passion’and ‘service’ in the industry to another level!

    Keep safe!

  16. Lawliet says

    That was a close call! At least you were unharmed. It was still pretty close to my apartment. Getting worrying.

  17. says

    I’m really sad to read about these destructive thugs rampaging about our city. Apologists are suggesting they are underpriveledged and poverty is to blame, but most are just in it because they think it’s fun, or because they simply don’t want to put in the damn hard work it takes to lift oneself up to a better life. They want it all, they want it now and they want it for nothing. That kind of sums up how society is going, though doesn’t it?

    They are destroying so many livelihoods, not just the businesses they attack and loot, such as the Ledbury, but the many businesses that have sent employees home and closed early, for safety fears, or simply lost their regular business clientele because people are staying away.

    I have not yet been to The Ledbury, it’s been on my wishlist for a long time, and I’m even keener to go having heard how bravely the staff stood up for their customers, and for their restaurant.

    Regarding your ring, I know it must be upsetting, but I would say that the ring was just a token, an outward symbol of your actual marriage, the union itself. As such, when you buy a new ring, don’t think of it as a shadow, a replacement, but as an equally fine representation of that bond, which is stronger the more you come through together.

    x
    Kavey

    • Will says

      I hadn’t watched the news or heard anything about the rioting, so I was 100% clueless when everything happened, and thought it was just an isolated incident (the restaurant staff seemed to know something about it, so I assumed that it had happened before, but didn’t know anything about the social / political context). In some sense, I think I would have been less calm if I had been reading about it beforehand.

      I would be curious to learn a little more about the specific complaints of the rioters / protesters. That said, the folks who came in seemed fairly intent and focused (on getting items of value), and they were pretty efficient – it didn’t seem like they were focused on destruction as much as getting watches, jewelry, and phones.

      • pgeek says

        Just glad both of you are safe and not harmed. Oh, but to lose your rings…I’m so sorry that happened! Such craziness!

  18. says

    I’m very sorry about your rings, but thankfully you were not seriously hurt. The Ledbury sounds like a truly classy establishment, and I have a lot of respect for the way it sounds like they handled the situation.

  19. Lily says

    I’m so sorry this happened to you! I can’t believe the world is resorting to such madness–I hope you’re able to recover from this terrible experience soon. Kudos to the Ledbury staff for keeping you safe.

  20. says

    My heartfelt sympathy for having endured this harrowing experience. I proposed to my wife at The Ledbury, and hope the perp gets caught and you retrieve your rings.

  21. says

    Oh my god I’m so sorry to read all this, and you’ve written it with such a lift in your story – what an ordeal it must have been and how brave of you to finish off thinking about the cheese cart! I hope he gets a rash after that diarrhea!

    • LT says

      So if I’m “more oppressed” than you, Stubo, you would be be totally fine with me threatening your physical safety and steal whatever I can from you?
      Didn’t think so.

      >Stubo says: They’re oppressed – you’re not. You just lost a ring, I’m sure you’ll recover.

  22. says

    What a terrifying experience! I can’t believe the madness that’s happening in the UK. Bless the staff at the Ledbury and their kick-ass kitchen staff! So sorry to hear you lost your rings though. I hope the scum get caught.

  23. Matthew Hyde says

    Sorry you had such a frightening experience but glad you’re okay. Kudos to the staff though – stories like this are why the ordinary, decent people of this country will get through the current situation. I’ve linked to this page at my blog in a post collating some of the positive stories arising out of the riots, hope that’s okay.

  24. Tim says

    We had dinner at The Ledbury Saturday night, two nights before this event. It was one of–if not the–most memorable meals of my lifetime. I think of that beautiful dining room, the down-right wonderful staff, the incredible food. It’s difficult (and enormously heart-breaking) to imagine thugs coming in with bats and breaking up that environment.

  25. Alison says

    OMG!!!!!! just saw your blog for the first time!
    Louise, I can’t believe how calm you were through that entire experience! And I was really impressed with your un-attachment to your rings. I’m sure that was really hard to lose those special pieces of jewelry, but it was good you didn’t resist, who knows what could have happened, and after all, it’s just metal and luckily you had insurance to get new ones.
    But WOW!!! what a vacation!!! I hope Italy is more relaxing for you and Will. Enjoy the rest of your vacation and be safe!!!!
    Alison Colberg

    • anne says

      How very very sad .. I never knew this had happened. It does all sound very scary. Shame about your rings.. they are nasty people.

  26. jjones says

    wow are you for real….talk about not seeing the whole picture…!!!

    Your comments about not being able to finish your tasting menu and the cheese gone to waste…how small minded can you get?! There are people who have lost their homes or worst have been murdered due to these riots and you also talk of slugging the looter…because he only had a bat….what if the looter was carrying a knife!! You really a far removed from reality…!!!! How about realising how fortunate you are and leave out the details of not being able to finish your tasting menu & cheese!!! Show some consideration…for the others less fortunate as you most obviously are!!!!

  27. Frontine LeFevre says

    It’s astounding how some people [the restaurant staff] just do the right thing instinctively.

  28. becky dodson says

    oh honey. im nearly in tears reading this. what a scary, sad tale…i guess a good scrap for your honeymoon memoirs…and a little ironic to boot.

    xoxox. to a safer remainder of your trip and a secure return.

Trackbacks

  1. […] This is the kind of thing I like to hear about though. When looters smashed into the Ledbury, The kitchen staff at the Ledbury went beyond their call of duty by rushing up from the kitchen with rolling pins, fry baskets, and other dangerous kitchen tools and scared off the looters. Then they provided well-needed glasses of alcohol including champagne and whisky […]

  2. […] restaurants were vandalised and invaded with a mass mugging by looters at London favorite The Ledbury. Rioters took jewellery, wallets and mobile phones from diners before being chased out by chefs […]

  3. […] and throwing stuff all over the place,” Yang, a software developer from Los Angeles, wrote in an account of the incident on her blog. The looting appears to be one of very few riot-related events reported in the central London […]

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