“[Hix] won’t mind a mixed review much, because he knows, in the run of things, it’s not really that important” [yeah, right Ed]. “The menu... is the usual Hix mashup of traditional English barded with postcards from Italy, Spain and Vietnam”. Service was from a waiter “like Rowan Atkinson wrapping up the present in Love Actually. Overall “not a very good dinner”.
Nowhere is a time-limit on eating in restaurants more depressing than at this recently relaunched classic, “because in every other way this place is a delight”. The chef Lee “is one of those rare phenomena in the London food world: a chap everyone agrees is a good thing” [everyone in the world of media luvvy food critics anyway, Ed]. The man has a “killer combination of French technique, an instinct to feed, and a love of the robust” and what’s more is “a god of pies”.
Post revamp the room looks “sleeker but fundamentally the same”. The meal’s conclusion – a “bizarre concoction of burnt shortcake” is the only “false note, though – the rest was lovely”.
Amol Rajan, The Independent on Sunday (Rating: 7/10)
Amol worries that he will sound “ungrateful” with this latest review. Part of the problem is his visit the previous week to the “exceptionally good” Dabbous. This puts him “in the curious position of recommending this place but also saying that, for this price, there's markedly better elsewhere”. It doesn’t help that the ground floor decor is “smart but stale” – even “a little forbidding”. So while “the chef is a rare talent, the menu is mostly well-crafted and affordable to City types, and the location should guarantee regular, well-heeled visitors... maybe it will take a bold, lunchtime menu, or a radical discount on the tasting menus, to... generate the sort of buzz that a new Morgan M deserves.”
Giles Coren, The Times (Rating: Food9/10, Services 8/10, Sustainability 7/10, Score 8/10)
Ollie Dabbous is set to be showered “with every prize and gong and rosette that is known to man” thanks to his cuisine here. How can “ordinary people going about their business” ever afford the best cuisine? “This is the answer”. Giles is “not saying I like the room” (“like the lobby of Belgo”), but he unusually devotes the whole article to raptures over each dish, and the value is so good “the prices can’t stay like this. Simply can’t. Wont”.
“The idea is a compromise between the American fashion for chef's tables... and the practical demands of having enough covers to keep the tills ticking over.” But “[i]t's a bizarre, bizarre idea, made more so by the mucusy-green colour of the seating, the intense hush in the kitchen” and the fact that “the rest of the hotel is wonderfully old school and country house-ish”. But “chef is Matt Gillan... is a serious talent” and his “ingenious” cooking is “brilliant” (as is the service). “Go for the cheaper lunch and prepare to feel ambivalent”.
John Walsh, The Independent (Rating: Food 4/5, Ambience 2/5, Service 4/5)
This “new joint... is so unprepossessing, you could pass by without noticing it... [taking] minimalism and non-luxury to new heights”. All-in-all it’s “like eating in your own kitchen” only with “magnificent” food, including the “house speciality” a “sensational rack of Brecon lamb”. The whole experience is “so warm and homely, so charming and friendly” with food that’s “so serenely, unflappingly, cooked, plated and served up.”
Matthew Norman, The Telegraph (Rating: 8/10)
Perhaps “the oldest Lebanese outside London, having opened in 1968... a marvellous little restaurant which realises his ambitions”. “[H]ospitality is a rare commodity in British restaurants, and the welcome and service from various chatty young chaps was an utter delight”. The prices “oh my giddy aunt” they are so cheap. “In its understated, artless way, this is a magical neighbourhood restaurant, partly for the quality of the cooking, but more than that for its warmth, generosity of spirit and the hospitality mentioned in Mr Mahfouz’s oddly touching blurb”.