AA Gill, The Sunday Times (Rating: 3/5 stars)
Gill finds it fitting that Conran’s latest opening is within a Lutyens-designed building, on Fleet Street. He considers both “defining designers of their time”, who are both at their best “when being popular and simple”. The restaurant fits this mould; the interior is “cool and functional, with... comfortable aesthetic austerity”. On the food front, “[t]he menu is good, if a little conservative”, which seems well suited to the other diners, “all City businessmen, enjoying a classic Conran experience.”
The critic proclaims Conran’s new “stylish French Brasserie” to be a veritable “slice of Paris”. His opinion about dining in a Conran restaurant – always a “crushing victory of style over content, at your expense” – has been overturned by the “French classical cooking” here, “correct in all its parts”. The design, a “celebration of Lutyens's clean, sturdy lines” and “waiters who seem genuinely pleased to see you” all add to the experience.
Toby Young, The Independent on Sunday (Rating: 15/20)
This “self-service cafeteria” in a Hammersmith garden centre treads the line between “achingly trendy” and “down-to-earth”, making it popular with the local ‘yummy mummies’. And the critic too, who enjoys the “vibrant” salads and pastries supplied by caterering company Alistar-Hugo. He opines it has “captured the Zeitgeist of the summer of 2009”, not least due to the fact that there’s “nothing on the menu priced above £6.95”.
The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny
Giles Coren, The Times (Rating: 9/10)
The critic drives through the “glorious scenery” of the Brecon Beacons to reach Shaun Hill’s famous restaurant. In an “[e]legant” room he tries some “impressive” food from the “[c]racking menu”, and pronounces it his “[b]est meal in yonks.”
Anise at the Felbridge Hotel, East Grinstead
John Walsh, The Independent (Rating: Food 4/5 stars, Ambience 2/5 stars, Service 3/5 stars)
This hotel restaurant, near Gatwick, is “far from a dream destination.” The critic makes the trip to “this unpromising destination” to sample the skills of “master craftsman” Matthew Budden. He is unimpressed by the “faux-cool ambience” of the restaurant but cheered by the menu; “a brilliant read [that]... glowed and sang with ambition.” He has an “extravagantly ambitious, slightly hit-and-miss meal” and concludes that the chef’s “imagination may need editing but he's a real find.”