AA Gill, The Sunday Times (Rating: 2/5 stars)
“Numbered ratings are the bane of critics’ lives”, says the critic. “We all hate them, because they assume that a thousand carefully chosen, nuanced words can be distilled into hieroglyphs”. So he’s giving them up. “They’ll still appear, but I’m going to let the office decide. The work experience can read the copy and say: ‘That sounds like a two.’ The review is my opinion, based on what I ate. The stars are someone else’s, based on what I write.” Well, even if, as we’ve noted in the past, Mr Gill’s own star awards often seem at odds with his words, it’s difficult to see that as an advance. Readers won’t generally know that the star rating is not awarded by their apparent author, which is very confusing indeed.
Moving to the subject of this week’s review, he’s not that impressed, as some reviewers have been, with this tenth-floor restaurant in Kensington, decrying it for “international hotel catering at its most typical, a perfectly average Chinese at inflated hotel prices”.
Bob Bob Ricard
Terry Durack, The Independent on Sunday (Rating: 14/20)
As in most of the reviews to date, the “eclectic, ebullient new funked-up brasserie in Soho”, which is open all day, finds itself being compared to the Wolseley. Unlike, say, AA Gill, he finds that the former Circus premises are “now a fabulously hospitable room”, designed by David Collins “with his usual intelligent mix of common sense, luxury and grace” (and this time “a bit of fun” too).
“Overlooking the eccentric corn flakes-to-caviar menu is the former Pont de la Tour head chef James Walker, who makes a fair fist of it”. The review is not without its criticisms, but concludes that “the energy, ideas, accessibility and most of all, the sense of affordable fun” makes this a commendable destination. The only problem with this analysis is that this reviewer is probably the first to have noted this as a particularly affordable destination – indeed, in our own review, we noted that it was selling game more expensively than the (infamously grabby) Wilton’s!
Matthew Norman, The Guardian (Rating: 9/10)
The critic visits “an eccentric but adorable maiden aunt of a Thai joint in Shepherd's Bush” – a local joint (for him), which boasts “a green frontage seemingly designed to scare off passing trade”. The food though is, usually, very good indeed.
“Small plates cost around £6”, at this Japanese restaurant, just north of Oxford Street, which – says the critic – you visit “for spankingly good fish and sweet waitresses who know their spoken English is close to unintelligible and will do everything to make you feel at home”, and also for a bill which, “while hardly small, feels reasonable.”
Clos du Marquis. Stockbridge
John Walsh, The Independent (Rating: Food 3/5 stars, Ambience 3/5 stars, Service 2/5 stars)
“What, you may ask, is a classic French auberge doing by the side of the A30, the straightest Roman road in Hampshire, as it stretches from horizon to bleak horizon”, asks the critic. It seems to have something to do with its “reputation as one of the best eateries in the county”. He finds it a “charming” destination, even if the service was a little over-familiar. It serves a “dazzling” menu (at “£16.95 for two courses” too). Realisation may be “sometimes slapdash”, but but the results are “always interesting”. “M. Marquis brings authentic Gallic flavours to the south counties; and if it's the Frenchiness of Escoffier rather than LA's French Laundry, that's no bad thing.”
The Seafood Restaurant, Padstow
Jasper Gerard, The Telegraph (Rating: 8/10)
“It's a shame Stein doesn't try to be lovable, or even bearable, because virtually everything else about his restaurant is faultless”, says the critic, disenchanted – only – by the service he receives at this famous seaside joint.