Fay Maschler, Evening Standard (Rating: 3/5 stars)
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 “sine qua non of a Conran restaurant”, including “detail in the design [that] gladdens the eye”, and food that’s “competent but prosaic.”
This Spanish venture in Marylebone has a “bustling, hugely attractive tapas bar” on the ground floor, and a fine dining room upstairs, where the critic dines. “[T]he menu is divided into ‘Classicos’ [and] more innovative dishes.” Everything she eats from the ‘Classicos’ side of the menu “is among the best Spanish food to be found in London”, whereas the dishes from the “nouveau side” are “undercooked” and “spooky”. The “ugliness” of the room and “the noise from downstairs” leaves her wanting to try the ground floor tapas bar next time – “that’s where the fun is”.
Gallery Mess, Saatchi Gallery
Guy Dimond, Time Out (Rating: 4/5 stars)
The critic recommends eating al fresco at this “fabulous new brasserie”, attached to Chelsea’s new Saatchi Gallery (where there are tables until 6 pm, weather permitting). The fare is “simple”, with some “more ambitious specials”, and – produced by catering company Rhubarb – many “dishes looked like overgrown canapes”. Although the mains sampled are inconsistent, dessert – knickerbocker glory – is “a triumph”. Service is “over-attentive”, but, he believes, “likely to calm down after the initial opening nerves.” And that’s a four-star review?
David Sexton, Evening Standard (Rating: 3/5 stars)
“[W]hat’s so wrong with a gastro on every corner?” asks the critic. This former gay pub has had “The Treatment”, but, as it’s just outside the gastropub “epicentre” of Islington, seems “underpopulated”. “It’s certainly not because it’s not delivering the goods”, he opines. The menu is “short and purposeful, emphasising gamey British produce”, and the execution mostly “hits the spot”. Furthermore, “[t]he staff are friendly, good-looking and attentive, the music subdued and sympathetic. What else do you need?”
Feargus O’Sullivan, The London Paper (Rating: 3/5)
This Victoria Park pub “has just set up a full-sized, open-air shack kitchen” in its ample garden. The food “isn’t gastronomic rocket science” but is “fresh and generous”, and the critic considers this “easy-going fuss-free spot” the perfect place “for people who fancy a barbecue but can’t be bothered doing it themselves.”