Made in China
Fay Maschler, Evening Standard (Rating: 3/5 stars)
“Have you noticed how seldom a new Chinese restaurant opens these days?”, says the critic. A pity, she feels, as the desire for a Chinese “grips” her “at least once a week”. At this formerly Japanese Westminster spot (formerly called Atami), she praises the steamed dumpling dim sum (available all day), but finds the Shanghai-style dumplings “less convincing”. The menu is largely of a known and usual type (with more exotic dishes, it seems, often unavailable), but “the familiar dishes are… cooked with care and integrity”. “Made in China has been added to my short list of places to go when I am longing for Chinese food.”
Richard Vines, Bloomberg (Rating: 3/4 stars)
“Sometimes, a dish may stop you in your tracks for the right reasons: cutting through the small talk, pulling your wandering eye back to the plate and causing an involuntary movement that returns wine glass to table. Game consomme with bacon cream and a small game hot dog – a starter at [Square chef] Philip Howard’s informal new west London venue… – take a bow.” Right from the off, it’s clear that the financial information company’s critic is swept away by the food at this Kensington debutant. “I’m not sure where I last had so much pleasure for [£8]… but it was probably late at night from some exotic food stall somewhere in Asia, such as Kuala Lumpur, rather than at a smart London neighborhood restaurant”.
The wine list “merits exploring” too.
Marina O'Loughlin, Metro (Rating: 3/5 stars)
The critic’s visit to this “new gastro-theme park”, in the old Dickins & Jones building, does not start off well. The Spanish part she’d booked for is closed, and she’s unceremoniously shunted to the Japanese bit. Grudgingly, a pair of free starters is offered by way of compensation. The sushi is “fresh… but not quite good enough for the money”, but the overall experience is “pretty OK”. The food is “expensive”, though, and the feel of the establishment is “curiously outmoded”. Given the tenor of most of the commentary, the three-star award does seem quite generous.
Princess of Shoreditch
David Sexton, Evening Standard (Rating: 2/5 stars)
The Standard’s critic comes to a view very different from Time Out’s five-star review last week of this relaunched gastropub. He kicks off by naming three “silly tricks” of contemporary restaurants (artily illegible menus, bowls for plates, wine classification by type), of all of which the establishment is guilty.
It’s the cooking, though, which really gets the flak: “over-reduced, too gluey, too creamy and buttery to make much sense as a meal served in a pub”. Service had elements of the Keystone Kops too. “Although this new incarnation of the Princess of Shoreditch is trying hard, it’s not a place we left planning to revisit. We felt a needlessly pretentious meal that we hadn’t much enjoyed had done us no good at all. A pub’s a pub for a’ that.”
Cyrus Shahrad, Time Out (Rating: 2/5 stars)
This Chiswick newcomer, formerly a Brit-fusion establishment called Gravy, is one of the few of this nationality to “do glamour”, and it “retains the artful bistro feel of its predecessor”. The food was “[not] strikingly authentic”, and somewhat “erratic” too, but “[d]espite all that, Chella has clearly struck a chord: service was superb, and the place was packed on our Thursday night visit, although few customers appeared to be Iranian.”