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Seven Park Place

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

Some mistake surely? The critic is – again! – ‘first with the news’, this time of ex Aubergine chef William Drabble’s “bizarre” new location in the “teeny” but “full swank” dining room of this St James’s Hotel. Isn’t it time for her to come clean, and admit that she’s given up her formerly expressed ambition to trail the journalistic pack, rather than leading it?

Anyway, the food “is fantastic, from first mouthful – an amuse of rosy tuna, a fluff of avocado, teeny cucumber leaves and a thwack of basil – to last sip… This is serious stuff from a man not given to faffing around with foams and jellies”. For some tastes,though, the setting may be “too odd”, and the bill “too hefty”. And the waiter was “condescending” too.

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

Well, the Standard’s critic can agree with Metro’s reviewer about one thing: the service in the new dining room of this St James’s hotel is “formal, obsequious, a bit patronising and over-attentive”. (Can it just be a coincidence that the proprietor’s website boasts that “no other German hotel group has been awarded such a high amount (sic) of Michelin stars”?)

While he feels, however, that it the place is – overall – “certainly a great improvement on Andaman by Dieter Muller” (its “absurdly fussy, ostentatious and overpriced” precedessor), he left “feeling uncomfortable in more ways than one”.

On the food front, both starters were “winners”, but, as the meal progressed, the food hit “the luxury note” just “too insistently for comfort” (though he “wouldn’t fault the execution”), and the wine list is “so greedily extortionate it must count on customers simply not minding at all about price”.

Pizza East

Fay Maschler, Evening Standard (Rating: 3/5 stars)

The critic visits the new Soho House group outlet in Shoreditch, and finds “there is little not to like about the low-lit, rugged, uncompromising conversion of what was originally a tea warehouse”, which was “rammed” on her Friday visit (with “big tables of City boys … in full cry”), but only a quarter full on a Monday. The meal has its ups and downs, but the “River Café for the masses” style of the place generally finds approval.


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

“If you’ve been wondering where Cool Britannia went, it’s moved to Soho”, says the critic, who seems to be rather swept away by the latest venue from Mark Hix, who is part “the small, but sparkling constellation of London celebrity chefs who write a bit, cook a bit – and socialise a lot”.

“There’s plenty to amuse and interest on the daily-changing menu”, and some dishes were “imaginative combinations that could all go horribly wrong, yet both dishes were ingenious, well-considered, and very well-received”. The only failure was a fish dish which was “slightly overcooked and dry”.

Richard Vines, Bloomberg

“David Hasselhoff is dining in the corner, and he’s not the only actor around. James Nesbitt is in the bar with the celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke. The artist Tracey Emin and model Kate Moss have already been in, as have the rock musicians Nick Cave and Bobby Gillespie.”

This isn’t quite a full review from Bloomberg’s man – he was interviewing the owner at the same time, so it was hardly appropriate – but it does tend to confirm that this Soho newcomer is quickly establishing itself as quite a ‘scene’. With the exception of the curry, however, the critic does feel able to express the view that the cuisine clearly “works”.

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