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Murano

Guy Dimond, Time Out (Rating: 5/6 stars)

“What is surprising is how understated Hartnett’s new [Mayfair Italian] restaurant is, after the pomp of The Connaught”, notes the critic. “It’s a biggish room of widely spaced tables which is refreshingly hushed and as still as the Venetian lagoon.” “Hartnett’s menu while she was at The Connaught was, at times, overwrought”, he says, but “not here, where simplicity is made a virtue [and] [t]he food is sensational from the first nibble”. The prices, though, are “the sting in the tail”.

Buddha Bar

Charmaine Mok, Time Out (Rating: 3/6 stars)

“Orientalism, in its most obvious and self-indulgent incarnation, has crossed the channel as the London offshoot of entrepreneur Raymond Visan’s original Buddha Bar in Paris.” In London, though, “the concept seems strangely dated”, but this Waterloo Bridge newcomer still attracts a “cool clientele that seem to dress exclusively in black and bling”.

“The restaurant buzzes but this is the kind of place where food takes a backseat, try as they may to convince us that pan-Asian cuisine is back in fashion.” TO’s lady doesn’t actually seem to have checked out the restaurant proper, however, preferring to sample the “bar nibbles” and the occasional “expertly compiled” cocktail.

Early in the evening, the music is a “mesmerising mix of lounge, acoustic and electronic spiced with Asian vocals and instruments, but “as the crowd changed after 10pm (when entry becomes guest list only), a particularly ghastly remix of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’ boomed over the speakers, turning this nirvana into just another raucous bar.”

The Botanist

Andy Lynes, Metro (Rating: 3/5 stars)

One of those nice reviews where the (stand-in) critic self-summarises nicely at the end: “There's lots to enjoy about The Botanist”, including the “impressive and original” décor, the “comfortable [and] handsome chairs”, and the service which is “on the whole, very welcoming and efficient”. Even so, he’s not sure he would go back. “The food, as good as it is, doesn't quite compensate for the cramped and noisy atmosphere. If you like buzz, you'll love The Botanist but I just couldn't take it seriously.”

Bibendum

Fay Maschler, Evening Standard

The doyenne of critics obligingly reviews this Chelsea landmark restaurant on its 21st birthday, and notes that a “handsome book has been published to mark the milestone”. “Although prices make the tyres screech I still think, as Michelin would have it, that Bibendum is vaut le détour”.

Leon

David Sexton, Evening Standard

“Leon ought to be the ultimate credit-crunch restaurant, since it’s all about eating healthy and ethically sourced fast food at rock-bottom prices”, says the critic. A recent visit to one of its branches, though, was “quite simply, rubbish”.

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