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”.
Kensington Wine Rooms
Susan Low, Time Out (Rating: 5/5 stars)
The USP of this Kensington wine specialist is it’s Enomatic machines that dispense 40 wines by the glass. The critic is quite taken with this “gumball machine for grown-ups”, and with the the selection of wines, which “seem to have been chosen to deliver great value as well as excitement, regardless of price.” After sampling wines in the “cosy front room”, she moves through to the dining room, “with close-packed tables of well-to-do locals.” The short menu is “appealing”, but “can seem a bit of an afterthought after the joys of the wine list”.
Fay Maschler, Evening Standard (Rating: 2/5 stars)
The critic visits the Piccadilly Circus stalwart, recently taken over by Georgian entrepeneurs, and finds it not much improved on the former régime. The menu tries “to be all things to all men”, and realisation is up-and-down. She opines that “it may take a while for Criterion to find its natural constituency.”
Marina O'Loughlin, Metro (Rating: 1/5 stars)
The critic visits the famous American diner, recently relocated to the Haymarket. She finds herself in an “ugly”, “rammed” dining room, where she samples food of unfathomable “ghastliness” (and which “doesn't even have the decency to be cheap”).
Aubrey, The Kensington Hotel
David Sexton, Evening Standard (Rating: 1/5 stars)
“You could be in a hotel anywhere in the world”, says the critic of this clubby restaurant in the Kensington Hotel, whose décor “wither[s] the soul”. “The kitchen here.... is competent enough”, but the food never rises above “blandly acceptable”, and is not helped by a “punitive” wine list and “assiduous but disconcerting” service.