Bistrot Bruno Loubet
Tracey MacLeod, The Independent (Rating: Food 4/5 stars, Ambience 4/5 stars, Service 3/5 stars)
Cuisine which “takes bistro dishes in interesting new directions” and “favours personality over prettiness” wins yet more praise for Bruno Loubet's Clerkenwell bistro, where “everything about the place exudes urban good taste of an unchallenging kind”. Despite some rather nervous service from a waiter “who seemed to be experiencing some kind of mini-meltdown, triggered by a glimpse of my notebook”, the critic enjoys dishes which tread “a sure path between artlessness and finesse” and concludes “[t]here's nothing bistro-ish about the scale of BBL's dining room; it's a buzzy, bustling place which already feels like it’s been around for ages”.
Lisa Markwell, The Independent on Sunday (Rating: 17/20)
M. Loubet's eponymous Clerkenwell bistro is fast becoming the rave of the season, its praises sung – for example – by ‘both’ Independents on consecutive days. “[Loubet is] back, in every way’, says this particular critic, “and London is the richer for it”.
Zoe Williams, The Telegraph (Rating: 4/10)
“Jekyll and Hyde” stalk this would-be Camden Sicilian – a “fashionable” spot which manages “to give the impression [of] eating in someone’s garage”. “Powerful yet sophisticated” main courses of rabbit and “endlessly tasty” venison are let down by a starter tasting “like regurgitated dog food”, and desserts which were little better: “the semifreddo had the consistency of something you might use to plug a draught and tasted of nothing at all.” “I suppose this is what you’d call uneven, but that seems too neutral a word for a meal with such dramatic highs and lows.”
The Magdalen Arms, Oxford
High praise from the critic for this “startlingly impressive” spot, recently transformed from a “puke’n’sawdust football pub” into a “cracking bistropub” (and with an “engagingly boho feel” too). “Terrific puddings” and main courses inducing “murderous envy” combine with “jolly and expert service” to make this a “gleaming gem” – an establishment “among the very best of its kind in Britain.” In Oxford??? Surely it will never last.
Eddie Gilbert's, Ramsgate
“[A] classy re-engineering of the working-class cafe: the simple things done well.” In addition to the conventional fish ’n’ chips menu, the critic discovers “something more ambitious going on”, and enjoys a nostalgia-inducing re-working of boiled egg and soldiers, as well as “impressive” desserts. Homemade ices and chocolate fondant - “an exemplar of its kind” - attract particular praise.
Giles Coren, The Times (Rating: 2)
Against his better judgement, the critic visits a “rammed” and “understaffed” outlet of the popular pizza chain, and finds the menu “has swollen to bursting over the years and every godawful relaunch has left its smear of new and pointless variations, such as the revolting Sloppy Giuseppe with its whiff of stag-night prank.” Even the new collaboration with Francesco Mazzei, of L’Anima fame, proves “dismal”: his recipes have been “twisted into a new kind of awful.” “The reputation (mythos, even) of Italian food is built on such a delicate foundation of pride, high ideas, nostalgia, fresh vegetables, good oil and fine things in small doses that you just can’t do it any justice in a place like this – and they should not have pretended to try.”