AA Gill, The Sunday Times (Rating: )
While he has “got to admit that it’s a good-looking room into which a lot of design effort has been applied”, Adrian Anthony is “bored” by this venture. It doesn’t help either that the menu – a mix of “all the successful foodie-type trends of the last five years” – is reasonably priced too. Nor that his companion, Bella Freud, would have “come back just for the service”. The food is “overcooked”… “bland in a tasteless way”, “beige” and while this place is “perfectly decent [and] inoffensive” it “just doesn’t believe in anything”.
One of the “benign, happy side effects” of the recession is the advent of places like this “tiny” space in Soho – an “urban British hipster's take on a solid bit of Americana” that’s been “executed with commitment... and a lot of pig”. “Focused on doing three or four things... very well” – it’s worth “putting up with the increasingly common, endlessly infuriating no-reservations policy”. This is “messy, nine-napkin food, served in prison-style white-enamelled, blue-edged tin tray” - eg “thick and measty” ribs and “well-sauced pulled pork”.
“There probably isn't a better burger to be had in London for £6.50” – they’re “monumentally succulent” with a “bun [that] was, well, perfectly bunnish”. But at the risk of sounding “churlish, spoilt and middle-aged” The Telegraph’s critic doesn’t fall in love with this “cavernous, noisy” joint that’s “lit like a brothel and done out in skull-and-owl-centric graffiti”. The pointless queue – just an obvious attempt to create a ‘buzz’” is the problem. For £2 more there are other good burgers to be had – “if 90 minutes [of your time] is worth less to you than two quid, I think it's time you had a word with your union”. Also recommended Atomic Burger 96 Cowley Road, Oxford (01865 790855); Handmade Burger Co The Waters Edge, Brindleyplace, Birmingham (0121 665 6542); Cowdray Farm Shop Cafe Cowdray Park, Midhurst, West Sussex (01730 815152).
“Few country inns live up to this one” where “service, food, and affordability are excellent”. It looks “beautiful”, and the food, though “unsurprising” attains “an impressive standard” - perhaps why it’s “nigh on full” despite being “in the middle of nowhere”.
Five Minutes with AA Gill
A five minute interview with Adrian Anthony, known to many as AA Gill tells of his love of writing, and how he’s “firm but fair”.
Tracey MacLeod, The Independent (Rating: Food 2/5, Ambience 3/5, Service 4/5)
It’s “exuberantly done up as a Moroccan pleasure palace, a sultry temple of hedonism and fun”, but Tracey MacLeod is still non-plussed by this boutique hotel in Leicester city-centre’s poshest enclave [ie not that posh, Ed], where sitting at a table is like a “total immersive experience”. “Dishes that read temptingly on a menu bore no trace of any of the promised excitement” and there were some “basic mistakes”. Still, service is “commendable”, the room is “rather fun, and the food isn't awful, by any means”.
Nick gives an interesting overview of the huge growth over the years in steak houses, including how they afford the restaurateur the possibility of selling lots of sides, and de-skilling the kitchen. Overall at this new Caprice Group property, however, its “culinary distinction is that it is not just the steaks that shine” – everything else is “pretty good” too.
“The bill isn’t so much steep, it’s cliff like” at the Waney Group’s Mayfair newcomer and “leaves you wondering how a meal with individual dishes costing single digits added up to a total that's well into three figures”. All-in-all there’s much to applaud but it’s all rather “safety-first”, of which The Guardian’s man feels “there's a lot... in London at the minute. The wariness is completely understandable, of course, but it's making the city's new restaurant scene less lively than it might be. Expensive and cautious – where’s the fun in that?”