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Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill

Marina O'Loughlin, Metro (Rating: 2/5 stars)

Ms O’M is very good on the celebrity chef phenomenon, and her characterisation of Marco’s recent TV show really hits the spot. “[W]ho cares [who won]?”, she says. “The programme doesn't even try to be about food any more. Throughout the show, MPW wandered about, bouncing between shticks: vaguely lobotomised guru; frantic Jimmy Savilesque bully; piercing-gazed laydeez man; gurning bro-mancer. Of the culinary genius this man undoubtedly is, there was little trace.” Sadly, it turns out that “[t]he same could be said for his ‘new’ [City] restaurant”. “Why am I increasingly compelled to surmise that everything this superbly talented chef does nowadays is less about the cooking and more about the dosh – Knorr what I mean?”

Villiers Terrace

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

If you look at “the map of Greater London in any restaurant guide”, you’ll see “how strictly metropolitan good food still remains in this city”, notes the critic. “There’s a thick cluster of recommendations in the centre, naturally, both north and south of the river, all the way from Hammersmith to Docklands. Then there’s a western offshoot into the curry houses of Southall and some provision too for the genteel residents of Twickenham and Richmond. But outside this central zone, there’s absolutely nothing meriting even half-hearted recommendation within the circumference of the M25.” (Broadly true, if not literally so, at least for those lucky enough to have a copy of Harden’s!)

Anyway, he visits a new Crouch End gastropub, which is of interest as the new home of the former chef of Camden Town’s critically-acclaimed Market. “There’s a big and busy kitchen”, he finds, offering a menu in “gastropub mainstream, 2009-style”. Prices are “modest”, and the establishment is “trying hard, if not yet getting it all right”. Service is “assiduous” too.

High Timber

Guy Dimond, Time Out (Rating: 4/6 stars)

“This new steakhouse is already proving a hit with besuited City diners”, says TO’s head man, “and no wonder. High Timber’s menu is simple to the point of being dull, but that makes choosing easier; conducting business over a challenging, fiddly meal is never a good idea anyway”. Wine mark-up may be “steep’, but “this is not the sort of restaurant where the target clientele will either notice or care about the restaurant’s own bonus system”. “High Timber will be kept busy by expense accounts regardless because it’s the ideal spot for clinching those deals.”

Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room

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

“[R]ich spicing and Mediterranean influences feature strongly here, in combination with local and seasonal British ingredients”, at this new East End dining room. “Mains are priced rather high”, but, “for a gallery eatery, [this is] a decent place to dine”.


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

The man from the financial news company, we discover, would “normally place the pleasures of ‘cheap eats’ at around the level of decaffeinated coffee, alcohol-free lager and soy burgers”, but he’s much impressed by the quality and value on offer at this inexpensive and “bare” new Chinese/Malaysian café, near the Barbican.

Swan & Edgar

Fay Maschler, Evening Standard (Rating: 2/5 stars)

“What is the world coming to when bars and pubs take on the names of defunct department stores?”, muses the critic. A fair question. One might also wonder what the world is coming to when a lacklustre Marylebone gastropub – for such the review says this to be – merits lead review position in London’s only newspaper of record. We know there’s been a bit of a lull in quality openings in recent times, but even so…

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