Zoe Williams, The Telegraph (Rating: 5/10)
The critic finds this Belgravia restaurant a “parody-cum-homage” to “an old-fashioned, all-American, flesh-tastic steakery”. She opts for the surf’n’turf, which turns out to be a “vampiric protein fest” of a “tender” and “unusually delicious” variety. The problem is that the cooking at this “steeply priced” joint shows “no finesse”, and “you’d need a good reason – profound homesickness, or some sort of obsessive disorder – to come here.”
AA Gill, The Sunday Times (Rating: 3/5 stars)
As Mr Gill sagely notes, this Mayfair basement has essentially – through three recent incarnations – “always been the same Italian restaurant”, and an “accomplished” one too. Under the latest ownership, the cooking is typically Venetian: “expensive” ingredients which are “even more expensively sold” (we understand that), treated with a “tentative flamboyance” (a bit of an oxymoron, perhaps?) and with “more charm than love” – we’ve struggled to work out how, in the context, this last observation can mean anything at all!
Toby Young, The Independent on Sunday (Rating: 18/20)
The critic proclaims the eponymous restaurant of the “culinary Queen of Kensington” (Sally Clarke) as “one of the finest [...] in London”. After 23 years, it still produces “straightforward, modern British food”, and, “posh without being ostentatious”, “belongs to the Kensington of JM Barrie rather than American investment bankers”. He has “never had a bad meal here”, and on this visit “everything is light and summery, bursting with fresh, herby flavours”, but he warns it “isn’t cheap”.
Ex-Juniper (Altrincham) chef Paul Kitching has opened a “totally left-field” and “delightfully dotty” restaurant which “there has never been anything like… in Scotland before”, says the critic. The food here is “elaborate”, but has a “disarming playfulness” that saves it from “pretentiousness”. Her only criticism – the foam that tops every dish – is lost amongst the praise for the “authentic enthusiam” of the staff, the fact that you can watch the kitchen at work behind glass, and that five courses for £60 is “pretty damn good value”.
Jasper Gerard, The Sunday Telegraph (Rating: 4/5)
“Housed in an elegant Grade A town house” in Edinburgh, the critic discovers “one of Britain’s most theatrical restaurants”. “[T]his is confrontation food” proclaims the critic; “enduring talent” Paul Kitching creates a “carnival of taste” in which “no two mouthfuls are the same.”
The Crown at Whitebrook
With its latest head chef James Sommerin, this long-established “beacon of gastronomic adventure” in the wilds of Monmouthshire appears to be going strong. The chef has a “penchant for unexpected combinations” that could be disastrous “in lesser hands”, but that are mostly successful as “the ingredients are handled with originality, assurance and, more importantly, a keen sense of pleasure.”
Tracey MacLeod, The Independent (Rating: Food 3/5 stars, Ambience 4/5 stars, Service 4/5 stars)
The critic discovers that “the best restaurants in Manchester aren’t actually in Manchester at all”. One of them – from the team behind Sam’s [celebrated] Chop House in said city – is this “discreetly luxe little bistro” a few miles south. With its “stylish, understated room, the friendly, well-informed young staff and best of all, the menu full of things you really want to eat”, it is, she decides, “the perfect local restaurant”.