Last week’s London reviews:
The critic “referees a head-to-head between south-west London’s new French restaurants, Le Provence and Bellevue Rendezvous”. The former turns out to be “a dinky French bistro in Barnes serving classic French cooking in a small dining room with a glass ceiling”. The food’s the thing here (“light, refined interpretations of French classics”), and it “barely puts a foot wrong”.
The other half of the critic’s south London run off is a Balham restaurant that’s “as French as they come, packed with real, live French people, and our waiter insisted on speaking French to us as much as possible… despite our best efforts not to.” The food turns out to be a “homier, simpler take on French food than Le Provence”, but he still has a “most merveilleux night out”.
Marina O'Loughlin, Metro (Rating: 3/5 stars)
Bjorn van der Horst’s Clerkenwell newcomer offers “five-star cooking”, says the critic, but “the place” and “the attitude” reduce it to three-star status. This, she concludes, is a chef who needs to “relax”.
Hi Sushi Izakaya
Fay Maschler, Evening Standard (Rating: 3/5 stars)
The “seventh outlet in the Hi Sushi group”, in Covent Garden, gets a rather lukewarm reception. Some dishes are rather disappointing, but the “black cod miso” and the “inspired dessert of caramel chawan mushi with raspberries and a Chinese gooseberry” help win a three-star rating overall nonetheless.
This week’s national reviews:
Giles Coren, The Times (Rating: 2/10)
“I had never planned to review Sushinho”, admits the critic, because the newish Kings Road serves Japanese/Brazillian fusion food, which is “everything I never wanted.” His experience does not exceed his expectations; in this “loud, dark Chelsea cocktail lounge” neither cuisine is realised well. The sushi (which, the critic believes, “must be first-rate or nothing”) is “just about edible, and thus pointless” and the Brazilian pork belly is “bland and dusty”.
For the critic, this “curious and refreshingly artless” Lebanese stands out favourably against the “pomposity” of its Knightsbridge competitors. A “wry, grizzled bunch” of staff replace the usual “sycophantic waiters”, and the “utilitarianism” of a “small, square room” provides relief from “gaudily Arabesque” interiors. It is “unashamedly committed to its food”, which turns out to be “delectable”.
Rachel Johnson, The Sunday Times (Rating: 3/5 stars)
Mr Gill’s stand-in critic is quite swept away by Jamie’s seaside venture; “the whole vibe is a modern, sand-in-your-toes crab shack, but with punchy prices and laid-back service.” The food review comes from her 15-year old son, Ludo, who finds the portions of the four-course tasting menu “a little dainty”. For the critic, the charitable venture is “a cracking idea” and “it works” too.
Number 6, Padstow
Zoe Williams, The Telegraph (Rating: 8/10)
This “modern” Cornish restaurant is notable for not being owned by Rick Stein. The critic finds it slighly empty, perhaps because, as summarised in the last four words of her review, it is “[m]ainly delicious, slightly weird”.
Little Yang Sing, Manchester
Toby Young, The Independent on Sunday (Rating: 5/20)
A review of the restaurant generally known as one of the best in Manchester’s Chinatown. A “fairly expensive” meal turns out to be disappointing; the critic is served – “with “enormous reluctance” – a sequence of “flavourless” dishes. Little Yang Sing, he concludes, “is coasting on a reputation it no longer deserves.”
Hell Bay, Bryher, Isles of Scilly
Jasper Gerard, The Sunday Telegraph (Rating: 3.5/5)
The critic visits a bay “on the most wizened and westerly frontier of Britain, the remotest rock on mainland Britain’s remotest island”. It turns out to have a “heavenly setting”, but ‘the slightly anaemic restaurant is purgatory”. The food isn’t bad, though, leaving the critic to conclude that he may have been to hell, but has the feeling that he’ll be back.