Harden's survey result
For 25 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. This year diners have submitted over 60,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK.
“You know what you’re going to get” from this ubiquitous French brasserie chain: a formula that’s “classier than Café Rouge’s”, and whose “easy and convenient, if uninspiring” virtues nowadays make it the survey’s most-mentioned multiple. The “classic bistro fare” is “formulaic but edible” (steak-frites is a popular choice) and while service is “hit or miss” and conditions often “noisy”, the “sensible pricing” especially of lunch or pre-theatre deals underpins its massive popularity.
“As a useful port of call”, these “safe” all-day French brasseries remain immensely popular, especially for their “bargain set lunch”, and pre-theatre deals. However, even many fans would concede that the “straightforward” fare is “solid but unspectacular”.
“A step up from Café Rouge” – these useful “modern, all-day French brasseries” are nowadays the survey’s most talked-about chain; the cooking will “never win awards” but is “solid”, “affordable” and “pleasant enough”.
How sad; though it’s still a “default” choice for its army of fans, this brasserie chain is getting ever more “formulaic” under its new (private equity) ownership; critics decry its “joyless” cuisine as “French-by-numbers” – “actually worse than Café Rouge!”
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