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Hélène Darroze at the Connaught

Marina O'Loughlin , Metro (Rating: 4/5 stars)

Despite a bill that makes the critic “gasp and stretch [her] eyes”, she succumbs to the charms of this grand Gallic restaurant in Mayfair – which is one of the most critically-disputed of recent times – where she eats some “extraordinary things”. “Flavours throughout are gutsy and vivid, those of Darroze's home turf, Landes in France's gastronomic south-western heartland.” Not all of the food is mind-boggling, but “hits far outweigh misses”.

Andaman

David Sexton, Evening Standard (Rating: 2/5 stars)

The problem with this review is that Mr Sexton is so generically anti-expensive restaurants that it’s not entirely clear whether this review is a re-statement of his general antipathy or a more specific criticism.

Anyway, he visits this “ostentatious building in clubland”, where acolytes of a big-name German chef have now been installed. The restaurant offers “grazing menus [which] pack as much fancy cooking and as many prestigious ingredients into one meal as possible, to show off the kitchen’s ability to the maximum on a single occasion, like a kind of culinary decathalon… Whether it is good to eat this way, so far removed from any question of sustenance, is another matter — it seems to me dubious on grounds not just of health but of basic good taste, too… On every plate there was simply too much fuss, too many ingredients”.

“There was no faulting the execution here” he concludes, “it’s the conception itself that is so excessive”. (And, just in case you hadn’t noticed: “the days of excess are gone”.)

Guy Dimond, Time Out (Rating: 2/6 stars)

TO’s head man clearly assumes his readers spend their whole time listening to their iPods, as he kicks off his review by telling us that Lehman Brothers has folded, and that the “housing market has been in decline for months”. Wow guys! There’s some serious shit happening out there! His (bleedingly obvious) point is that this is “hardly the ideal time to be opening top-dollar haute cuisine restaurants”. This, he surmises, is why “they have just introduced a cut-price set lunch. Presumably not enough customers are willing to pay £100+ per head for a meal, which is what is would normally cost”. Or perhaps the hotel just cottoned on to the fact that, as any fool knows, most of their competitors always have done surprisingly reasonable set lunch menus, so they had better do one too.

“[W]as it an amazing meal? In short: no… Ultimately, Andaman disappointed not because of the alarming prices – the wine mark-ups are particularly cynical – but because you can get far better food for a lot less in London. Our light lunch for two came to £107. If you still have that sort of money to spend, I suggest you try the set lunch at Le Gavroche instead.”

St Pancras Grand

Richard Vines, Bloomberg (Rating: 2/4 stars)

A somewhat guarded reception from the critic for this very British new dining room on the way to Paris: “I’m still not completely sold on St. Pancras Grand, though its Dutch gold-leaf roof is gorgeous and – as a former British Rail train announcer [now there’s a revelation!] – I love looking at the locomotives. Even the feeling of bonhomie that descended on me over a bottle of the crisp house white… didn't make me enjoy every single dish”.

Brasserie James

Chris Blackhurst, Evening Standard (Rating: 3/5 stars)

“The bill [of £99 for two] came as a shock and perhaps that says everything about the meal. It certainly wasn’t beating the crunch and the overall experience was of blandness… For that sort of money in south London I would have expected something with more oomph, that supplied a memory or two… £99 buys you a banquet at the excellent Indians not far away in Tooting.” The critic is not especially impressed by the South Clapham newcomer.

The Clerkenwell Kitchen

Time Out (Rating: 4/6 stars)

The critic proclaims this newcomer “tucked between Farringdon and Clerkenwell Road” to be a “super” eatery, serving “delicious, fresh, seasonal food that avoids intensive agriculture at fair prices”.

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