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GUARDIAN | Mathew Norman

Benja

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Rating: 4/10

The critic quickly fears that this is “a wildly misconceived project ... a restaurant with wildly grandiose ambitions fatally undermined by the premises.” They've spent a “fortune” on “sumptuous design”, but the Soho premises are so “pokey” the effect ends up “gloomy and oppressive”. Results from “an inadequate wine list and a brief, unenticing menu” receive very mixed commentary, of which “unsettlingly and bitterly cloying” is typical of the predominantly negative tone. Service, though, was “delightful”.


THE INDEPENDENT | Thomas Sutcliffe

Trinity

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Rating: food 3/5, service 2/5, ambience 2/5

How a fellow diner's water was poorly poured is emblamatic of an impression that the customer is an “afterthought” for staff. The first course “didn't do a huge amount to alter the mood”. Despite the odd “excellent” dish, a number of the creations seemed “less than the sum of the parts”. Good puddings “were good but not quite good enough” to rescue a meal that had fallen into “a tangle of quibbles”. For a totally contradictory experience, see Giles Coren below.

• Read Harden’s City AM review.

• Read Harden’s main review.


FINANCIAL TIMES | Nicholas Lander

Edinburgh: Vintners Rooms, The Kitchin

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On the basis of two meals in Leith, Nick Lander believes any inferiority complex on behalf of Edinburgh chefs towards London is misplaced.

At The Vintners Rooms (a restaurant with an “enticing entrance” and “whose interior is equally distinctive”) tables are far better spaced than they would be in the (far more expensive) capital. Mâitre d’ Silvio Praino is a “joy to watch” in action. Patrice Ginestière’s dishes, though, can be “too heavy with not enough thought given to the vegetable accompaniment”, an approach that’s “outdated and needs to change”.

At Tom and Michaela Kitchin’s nearby, nine-month old The Kitchin, an “ultra-modern” interior is again “comfortably” spaced. Under the motto of “From Nature to Plate”, staff are inspired “to create dishes that are definitely more than the sum of their parts”, and the “friendliness of the mainly French waiting staff dismisses any notions of exclusivity.”

• Read Harden’s main review.


THE TELEGRAPH | Malk Palmer

Jaipur, Milton Keynes

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Rating: 6/10

The Telegraph's new critic finds “the biggest purpose-built Indian restaurant in Europe” is “lit up with as much subtlety as Space Mountain in Disneyland Paris”, has “decor that would make Liberace feel queasy” and is “throbbing” with a “rapturous”, “raucous” local crowd. Some of the food is “rubbery”, other dishes get “full marks”. All in all the place is “certainly fun” but the “food isn’t always up-to-scratch”.

• Read Harden’s main review.


THE TIMES | Giles Coren

Trinity

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Score: 9.25

“As close to an absolutely perfect experience of eating out as it is possible to have”. Starters were “fine, not mind-blowing’. Before the main courses, a freebie was food like “they serve it in Heaven” – “just, just, just, oh”. And the veal main course “even better”: “pink and plump like the lips of a fair-haired teenage girl at her first party”. “In short, brilliant cooking in a modest, elegant room that is also laid-back”.

• Read Harden’s City AM review.

• Read Harden’s main review.


INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY | Terry Durack

Dinings, London W1

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Rating: 15/20

Ex Nobu chef, Tomanari Chiba, opened this “teeny”, “weeny” place in Marylebone last October, a place that’s “very, very cute” and “spotlessly clean”. The menu mixes classics and “post-Nobu modern Japanese dishes”. The food is so good it sets the critic’s chopsticks “trembling” with excitement. Prices are “fair”. Staff are “fushed but charming”. Overall this is “The Perfect Small Restaurant, and my new favourite place for anything fishy, or raw or both.”


THE OBSERVER | Jay Rayner

Langtry's

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Rating: 3/5

“All in all, a gloomy meal in a gloomy spot” is how Jay Rayner sums up his experiences” in the Cadogan Hotel’s dining room, which he feels has a “funeral air”, but “surprisingly cheerful staff” who “seem to think that asking you how everything is when you are in mid-conversation is the same as good service”. Foodwise the problem is “lousy” re-interpretations of classic British dishes and “inconsistency” (though the odd element has “lovely” flavour amd shows “they can get other things right”).

• Read Harden’s City AM review.


THE SUNDAY TIMES | AA Gill

Awana

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Rating: 3/5

A bill saying “Visit Malaysia 2007” caps the “corporately hospitable feel” to this Chelsea Malaysian whose staff “wear little westernised bits of national costume”. The food can be “excellent”, but some of it is “too polite” and a bit “Malay for beginners”. Best of all, though, is the Durian ice cream: “astonishingly complex and contradictory” it “wafts in a miasma from your gut as if some small nocturnal frugivore rodent has decomposed in the humid burrow of your gullet.”

• Read Harden’s City AM review.

• Read Harden’s main review.


THE SUNDAY TIMES | Michael Winner

St Alban

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Winner arrives by ambulance at St Alban for a “totally historic” meal. The décor is, he finds “absolutely superb”, with “the charm of the 1950s at its best”. “Every dish was perfect”, the staff “utterly charming, helpful and above all speedy”. All this and “the most glamorous toilets in London”.

• Read Harden’s City AM review.

• Read Harden’s main review.

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