Undoubtedly “useful” for a business rendezvous (indeed, “something of a canteen for Goldman Sachs types”), Sir Terence Conran’s “well-spaced” City brasserie inspires lots of reports… many of which suggest it “lacks warmth and heart”; it’s “better for lunch than for dinner”.
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It would be unfair to say that, when it comes to restaurants, Sir Terence Conran has only ever had one idea. However, anyone who had been to Bibendum in its early days, over 20 years ago, and also ...
Press Reviews (12)
Zoe Williams (1st February 2010)
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Lutyens, Terence Conran’s latest restaurant [in Fleet Street], and yet I walked in and felt underwhelmed… it should pulse with booze and adventurous spirit, not this elegant cleanliness.” And so it continues. Although she has a good meal there, the overall experience is “fun, but it’s not fun enough”.
Matthew Norman (16th November 2009)
Sir Terence Conran’s “second grand bistro” (after Boundary), in Fleet Street, is an affair “on the bustling Parisian model”, and it concentrates on “gutsy, classic dishes”. “It is superb. In fact, apart from replacing the Goldman Sachs bankers with hacks more concerned with nicking blank receipts than the menu, I can't see much room for improvement.”
Andy Lynes (4th September 2009)
Conran’s latest city restaurant “is effectively Le Pont de la Tour II”, says the critic; it is similarly “sleek” and has a menu that’s a “list of overfamiliar brasserie classics”. Happily, “what turns up on the plate is an entirely different matter” and the food generally epitomises “good old-fashioned fancy French cookery”. “[T]he real triumph here”, he notes, “is the polished and friendly service.”
Joe Joseph (25th August 2009)
The recently-opened restaurant in the Reuters building “bears all the familiar Conran DNA: a pleasant room that doesn’t scream for attention, a seafood counter” and an “unashamedly French” menu, says the critic. It offers simple food that “you can order and enjoy while continuing a conversation”, staff are “helpful without being intrusive”, but the prices mean it is not “so much ‘an everyday’ neighbourhood brasserie” as it tries to appear.
John Walsh (10th August 2009)
Food 3/5 stars, Ambience 4/5 stars, Service 5/5 stars
The “cool design and attention to detail” at Conran’s Fleet Street restaurant immediately impresses the critic, as does the “knowledgeable and friendly” service. “The only problem is the menu” which his “granny would have found [...] a tad old-fashioned”. Fortunately “the food was a lot better than the menu” but he believes the chef, David Burke, needs to be given “carte blanche to be creative” before the cuisine can “match the charm of the ambience and the personnel”.
Lisa Markwell (27th July 2009)
Yet critic enjoys the experience at Conran’s latest restaurant, in the eponymous architect’s “elegant 1930s sugar cube” of a building, on Fleet Street. In the “genteel opulence” of the dining room, “service is seamless” and the “mainly Anglo/French classics menu” produces a “delicious meal”. But, as the 130-seat room has “only half-a-dozen tables in use” on a Friday evening, she wonders whether it is “extremely canny to open a crisp, formal restaurant in this area in the teeth of a recession [...or...] sheer folly.”
Richard Vines (24th July 2009)
Although the food and service are “uneven” on Mr Vines’s early-days visit to Sir Terence Conran’s Fleet Street “hospitality heaven”, he has hopes that it “may become a first-class restaurant.” It appears to have all the elements of success: “[t]he dining room – with an open kitchen – is light and elegant; the menu is full of classics that people want to eat; the prices aren’t greedy.”
Jay Rayner (20th July 2009)
The critic proclaims Conran’s new “stylish French Brasserie” to be a veritable “slice of Paris”. His opinion about dining in a Conran restaurant – always a “crushing victory of style over content, at your expense” – has been overturned by the “French classical cooking” here, “correct in all its parts”. The design, a “celebration of Lutyens's clean, sturdy lines” and “waiters who seem genuinely pleased to see you” all add to the experience.
AA Gill (20th July 2009)
Gill finds it fitting that Conran’s latest opening is within a Lutyens-designed building, on Fleet Street. He considers both “defining designers of their time”, who are both at their best “when being popular and simple”. The restaurant fits this mould; the interior is “cool and functional, with... comfortable aesthetic austerity”. On the food front, “[t]he menu is good, if a little conservative”, which seems well suited to the other diners, “all City businessmen, enjoying a classic Conran experience.”
Guy Dimond (17th July 2009)
“What Lutyens lacks... is the surprise factor”, opines the critic of Sir Terence Conran’s latest venture, in Fleet Street. “[I]t’s a formula restaurant” – but a formula which seems to appeal. The building, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, is a “classically proportioned beauty that works well with the Conran look”. His meal is a “homage to repasts past”, of “classical French dishes, with a few nods to [head chef David] Burke’s Irish heritage”, that are “beautifully made”.
Feargus O’Sullivan (8th July 2009)
Conran’s new Fleet Street “gastrodome” “aims to be a one-stop shop for everything from a glass of wine to a three-course blow-out”, with its bar, restaurant and cellar. The critic admires the “deco-influenced space” and the “obliging staff”, but wishes the “Anglo-French brasserie dishes” were “more generous” and “cheaper”. Overall though, he thinks the place succeeds in creating a “seamless mix of drinking, nibbling and dining”.
Fay Maschler (3rd July 2009)
Sir Terence Conran – that “staunch champion of brasserie style, dress and manners” – has created a new Bibendum, on Fleet Street, says the doyenne of critics (who has the advantage of having ‘been there’, over 20 years ago, when Conran’s first grand restaurant was launched). This “formulaic” joint has all the “[t]he sine qua non of a Conran restaurant”, including “detail in the design [that] gladdens the eye”, and food that’s “competent but prosaic.”