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Restaurant Diner Reviews
"It is a mystery, if not a surprise, why Casamia has not been promoted from having just a single Michelin star, which means it remains on the same level as inferior pubs that we have eaten in, restaurants where the star has been inherited at least three times over by the sous chef and offshoots opened by â€œnamesâ€ with no real reason for existing apart from easy money for the owner. Perhaps it is because Peter Sanchez is something of a pioneer, dreaming up dishes with unusual combinations of ingredients, designing dish-specific crockery, and melding techniques to formulate an advanced approach that could be seen as a step too far for a chef who should be still finding his feet, and is perhaps not always fully understood by judgemental inspectors with a strict agenda to adhere to. We are struck by the friendly nature of Casamia, where every diner is regarded almost as a member of the extended family, as shown by the willingness of the staff, both kitchen, with the chefs bringing up the various dishes, and front of house, to listen to and discuss things with the punters. Once again stunning dish followed stunning dish, right from the snacks, 3-year aged Parmesan mousse in a light bric tartlet with cheese sprinkles, deep-sea carabineros prawns on a seaweed meringue which gave up a sweet seafood aftertaste, and a smoking sandwich of venison tartare with cavolo nero and horseradish cream, to the petits fours, a superlight and delicious mix of damson and bay leaf Turkish delight, and a clever porcini mushroom fudge, which could almost double as a canapÃ©. Interposed between these delights was a succession of delicately complex taste, texture and visual wonders, some merely brilliant and others simply world-class. The combination of yoghurt sorbet, pickled fennel, sweet beetroot risotto with soft and firm rice and pistachio for extra texture was superb. The duo of brown trout, loin Japanese style with coal dust, wonderful skin crisps, shiitake and a ginger dashi perfectly balanced with the fish, and roast belly in a smoked mousse with trout roe and, this time, kombu dashi, was a winner. I tend to avoid vegetarian dishes where possible, and when faced with something named autumnal salad, my defences are activated; but the scorched radicchio leaf, the concentrated taste of sweet carrot, the goatâ€™s curd and yoghurt, the celeriac jam, the parsley dressing and the swede all made for an outstanding, complex and wonderfully satisfying dish which completely belied its simple appellation and I was fully won over. The Casamia version of sole VÃ©ronique relies, quite rightly, on the best fish with an egg emulsion sabayon, perfect grapes, amazing leeks and a roe powder condiment to produce a truly top-class dish. Itâ€™s game bird season, so a duo of grouse seemed just the thing, and the confit leg with pasta was quite astounding and beautifully supported by quailâ€™s egg yolk on potato purÃ©e and the lovely herby touch of oregano; not to be outdone, the melt-in-the-mouth breast with a grouse jus worked really well with cold rose petal variations and an intense hit of ras el hanout on the crisp skin. Dehydrated butternut squash matched with natural caramel, from which a pleasant clove aroma emanated, and brown butter formed an historic pairing with the â€œorangeâ€ RulÃ¤nder (aka Pinot Gris) from Austria, just one of a series of well-considered bottles in the wine flight, and this set the scene for an intense passion fruit mousse with light tarragon meringue, and the final dish â€œCollection of applesâ€ comprising multiple elements of different types of apple with varying but never clashing levels of acidity and sweetness washed down with a complement of Herefordshire apple liqueur. For us this one of the best meals of the year and, with regard to where Casamia should figure in relation to its peers, we think that The Sunday Times Top 100 list, which represents the view of the food-loving general public instead of the usual anonymous inspectors in guides such as Michelin or AA, is where one should look."
"There is nothing left for us to add to the fully justified Good Food Guide 10/10 rating except to chide Michelin, once again, for its lack of courage and vision and continued refusal to recognise the damage it is doing to the UK fine dining scene by not bringing the proportion of awards for deserving UK restaurants more in line with the situation in France and promoting more restaurants more often both across the board and especially from two to three stars. The amazing ability of Nathan Outlaw and his team to maintain the advances with what is after all a fish only armoury of main ingredients yet provide a new outlook on how to provide outstanding cuisine based on locally and seasonally available raw material is reason alone for this restaurant to be ranked amongst the very best. Every one of the stellar dishes on the menu is served with a perfect wine match, and all you have to do is sit back and enjoy. Subtle 3-hour cured monkfish with yoghurt and sea purslane is followed by amazing creamy rich codâ€™s roe with sourdough crispbread, paprika and seaweed sprinkle, then comes crab in pickled onion so mild that the crab with its basil dressing and surprising apple chunks still stands out, the signature red mullet with its wonderful Porthilly sauce never ceases to please, meaty turbot (served with a stunning NZ pinot noir) and a sprinkle of bacon, spring onion, mushroom sauce and fabulous smoked mushroom gives way to top-notch caramelised Cornish Jack cheese and walnut tart with slightly tart beetroot, and then on to a seasonal dessert of local blackberries, pear and hazelnuts for a lovely combination of textures, and the finale of rich dark chocolate, local raspberries, panna cotta with a flavour of distilled raspberries and a blackcurrant ice wine sauce. Another stunningly good example of three-star cuisine from head chef Chris Simpson in the kitchen."
"We had experienced Michael Wignallâ€™s cooking at Pennyhill Park as well as that of Michael Caines here, both two stars but rather different styles. Our impression of the former had been somewhat coloured by the unfortunate dining room and the substandard front of house staff, which we felt let the chef down, especially when the majority of the dishes in our ten-course tasting menu had been of an outstanding finesse, expertly balancing tastes and textures and beautifully presented on the plate, and employing ingredients, some familiar and some not, in adventurous combinations, so it was that we approached this dinner in these luxurious surroundings with great expectations. It was immediately clear that the staff were a cut above those at Pennyhill Park and, in a welcome break from most restaurants, it was possible to have a wine flight with 75ml glasses to accompany the tasting menu. There were no nibbles, but the amuses-bouche set the standard for the rest of the meal with a collective of treats comprising trout roe, cubes of mild cucumber and salmon, and then three crackers, all different, each one supporting a selection of delicate individual yet texturally interactive elements, all beautifully presented and carefully balanced. The 10 course Taste of Gidleigh menu looked on the face of it to be unbalanced, but as the meal went on it was clear that, as with everything that evening, a great deal of thought, more than a sprinkling of skill and a splash of imagination had produced a masterpiece of top-class cuisine. A startling mix of sea bass with finger lime, a nori cracker, a perfect amount of yuzu and gentle oyster was followed by some superbly juicy hare with just the right quantity of chocolate crumbs to produce the perfect match and accompanied by parsley, artichoke cream, lightly cooked parsnip, another notable taste element, ceps and a hint of pine. Venison before trout, with venison main on the menu? The puzzle was solved with appearance of a slice of home-cured beautifully tasty and tender venison â€œbresaolaâ€ as an integral part of a real picture of a dish with heritage carrots, baked and smoked, a background of trendy woodruff, beetroot, wonderful organic goatâ€™s curd, carrot cream and parsley. One could almost be persuaded to become a vegetarian with a stand-out dish like this, and our judgement of the meat was that, after all, you wouldnâ€™t find it that odd to have a slice of ham early on in the meal with pork as the main if it played a proper role in the composition of the starter. Back to fish - cured sea trout, perfectly lightly cooked and just marvellous with a surprising roast celery and beetroot cream and yet intensified with glazed octopus and an historic chicken and squid broth. Once again all the levels of taste and the textures were impeccably balanced. Cornish mussels served in and counterpointed with mild braised onion and elevated by coal powder with cabbage and especially a terrific sardine dressing. There was a choice of mains. It had to be the venison for me, and my wife chose the eternal favourite, turbot. We were now expecting perfection from every dish, and chef did not disappoint. The admirable fish was supported by some fresh, barely cooked, taste of the sea Mylor prawns along with Gidleigh Park Jerusalem artichokes, an umami boost from shiitake mushrooms in a seaweed tea, as well as English truffles and local greens. The venison was exemplary, an authentic taste of the game season with a special extra of brilliant sweetbreads and white truffles, girolles, baby watercress adding a touch of pepperiness and a savoury parsley and fermented garlic mix. Another competitor for dish of the evening! Before we tackled the desserts there was a semi-cheese course of variations of pumpkin with its seeds, Colston Basset mousse, and a striking pear and wet walnut duo. The look of the first dessert brought a smile to our faces the way it was amusingly put together on the plate - a blackberry ice ball, a superlative buttermilk rod, torched Gidleigh Park sweetcorn kernels, blackberries and blackberry panna cotta, and we were still smiling after devouring it. Next we had a pistachio micro-sponge with a lemon and bergamot set cream, the taste of which grew on the palate and fused with the liquorice ice cream. Finally, another runner in the top dish stakes - a bitter chocolate bomb filled with pralinÃ© parfait, some frozen yoghurt and caramel. Simple sounding, but at this level not easily achieved. We reckoned that this was well up with any of the best dining experiences weâ€™ve had this year, and Gidleigh Park with Michael Wignall in the kitchen must now rank alongside any of the three-star venues. Chef was still in the kitchen right to the end of service, yet another example of the dedication a top chef should have."
"Very traditional style reliable Spanish style tapas bar. Reasonably priced and a very relaxed feel."
"A thoroughly disappointing experience. No attention was paid to the booking notes requested of guests when making their booking. The food was mediocre. There was shell in the crab, the steak which was supposed to medium was, in fact, blue in the middle, the cod was swimming in a pool of water at the bottom of the plate and the dessert was so salty it was unpleasant. No one enquired if the meals were satisfactory. The cod was sent back which was simply transferred to a dry plate. It still had the cut in it from when it was taken away, only difference was that they took half the fish away and it was nearly cold when I got it back. The whole meal was accompanied by the smell from the disabled toilet which opens directly into the restaurant as there's no interconnecting door. It certainly didn't meet my expectations."
"So far and away the most exciting Indian food in London. Eight small courses and six larger courses on the tasting menu. Absolutely worth the price - a really fun and exciting experience. We went once and immediately returned with five people two days later."
"Tiny restaurant but impressive food and service. It is intimate but very good, very sophisticated and great to have a view into the kitchen."
"Over the years I think the standard of food here has gone up and up, the menu is now less muddled and everyone on it is done extremely well. Scotch eggs are a must for a starter and the thrice cooked chips are beautiful. The staff are very friendly and service is ok but at the price I think it's fair to expect a bit more and maybe a little more attentive service to avoid some of the unnecessary delays. For me the star of the show here is the ambience, it's just such a fun place to be, maintaining some of its old pub charm and history. I know this place divides opinion but for me it is now firmly established as one of Wimbledon's premier dining venues."
Harden's review of the reviews
The Observer's critic-in-chief heads to Manchester to try out the new Hawksmoor and stumbles across a veggie dining room, 1847, serving great food â€“ well, apart from the desserts. Read our roundup of restaurant news in Manchester and enter our Hawksmoor Manchester competition.
Meanwhile the Guardian's Marina O'Laughlin pays a visit to the much gushed about Kitty Fisher's
Everyone else love, love, loves it but Marina can't help but feel she's ended up at a house party she wasn't quite invited to, particularly as the restaurant staff seem allergic to answering the phone. We can attest to that having called them on at least 10 occasions without success.
The award for most ferocious review this week has to go to The Sunday Times's A A Gill
The critic has a thing or two to say about Mayfair's 'ridiculously overpriced' Mexican, Peyote, including: â€œ...fiddly, neurotic preparation with pale, polite taste and silly, parsimonious sharing plates that arenâ€™t bounteous or fun and are more like eating the catering pitch for a drug cartelâ€™s wedding.â€
Over at The Times, Giles Coren gives his opinion on Russian-imported pizza chain Bocconcino
â€œBocconcino isnâ€™t a bad restaurant. It just isnâ€™t a necessary restaurant.â€ At Â£202 for pizza and pasta it's not hard to see why Mr Coren might feel that way â€“ mind you, a Â£46 bottle of wine probably helped nudge the bill up.
And last but not least, Ms Maschler reviews Brindisa's new Morada Asador
The Standard's long-standing critic heads to the latest outpost of this tapas chain (in Soho) and finds the meats are the reason to flock here â€“ from the 'delectable' milk-fed lamb to theÂ Secreto Iberico.