Review of the reviews

Here’s our weekly round-up of what the nation’s restaurant critics were writing about in the week up to 9 July 2023.


The Guardian

“I shall never tire of seeing the power of a good restaurant bringing joy to its community.”

Grace Dent was in the delightfully named Slaggyford, Northumberland at The Kirkstyle Inn where “industry veteran Nick Parkinson” (son of famous Michael) has “gorgeously” refurbished the village’s 18th century pub. It’s clearly already a hit with the locals, despite not being known as a “guinea fowl breast with morels kind of place” previously.

“Local chef Connor Wilson is serving an astonishingly reasonably priced menu, with three courses from the set menu for £30, which in this day and age feels like a misprint.”

Altogether it’s doing a good job of treading that fine line, “beckoning to the likes of the Top 50 Gastropubs crowd without scaring off people who just want battered cod and chips”.

“The Kirkstyle Inn is the sort of pub that’s worth making a detour for. It has quietly been here for hundreds of years, and now is its time to roar.”


The Observer

“Sauce gets everywhere, napkins get massacred and bowls get filled.”

Jay Rayner went to Bayswater in search of Malaysian street food, and was rewarded at Med Salleh Kopitiam, a “dark-wood floored, white-walled restaurant space, with an edge of the post-colonial about it… attached to the Malaysian-owned Berjaya Eden Hotel”. He was recommended the place by “Henry Taylor, a restaurant PR who doesn’t represent them, but just loves what they do”.

“If you’re used to the repertoire, a lot of the menu will be familiar”, from roti canai for breakfast through to a “a classic adaptation” of Hainanese chicken. All of it with “sauces many and various” and wet wipes. “So many wet wipes. It would help if they wheeled a field shower tableside.”

He’d recommend the “truly magnificent” shaved ice dessert, a “Devil’s Tower” covered in peanuts, sweetcorn, syrups, red beans, jelly, rosewater, evaporated milk and caramel, all “framed by a rushing cumulonimbus of dry ice, as if it was a stage set for a Bonnie Tyler performance” – “£9.80 worth of huge fun”.


The Evening Standard

“Not every opening needs to mint an entirely new way of eating, mash two dining cultures together, or boldly move the needle on the broader gastronomic consciousness.”

Jimi Famurewa reviewed 20 Berkeley, the “latest opening from the team behind Sumi and HUMO” which is “a stylish, laser-targeted exercise in coddling, high European luxury and 120 quid porterhouse steaks”.

He describes the cuisine as “bucolic modern British”, with seasonality and sustainability at the forefront; nothing new or revolutionary, but here enhanced by “the skill and imagination of executive chef Ben Orpwood”. But as it’s Mayfair, it’s seriously pricey, a sort-of “turbo-Daylesford for those without the diary space or wherewithal to pop to the Cotswolds”. (****)


Also in The Standard, romcom author Emma Hughes share her tops tips for venues worthy of appearing in a romantic comedy: “where to go for everything from meet-cutes to misery-eating ice cream”.

There’s also mention of another restaurant guide’s (it’s The GFG, which came out this week) latest edition, which names Les 2 Garçons as London’s top restaurant, and the best in the UK as Tallow in Kent, from the former team behind The Compasses in Crundale.


The Times

“Fundamentally delicious and crowd-pleasing while introducing you to new flavours and ingredients.”

Chitra Ramaswamy, who seem to be covering Scotland’s restaurants for The Times, was at Baba in Edinburgh, which – despite opening in 2017 on “one of Scotland’s poshest thoroughfares” – has rarely come to our attention on our annual survey.

It’s inside the Kimpton Charlotte Square hotel but with a separate entrance “on George Street, the pulmonary artery of Edinburgh’s New Town”. The cuisine is Levantine, a signifier of the extent of Yotam Ottolenghi’s influence on the UK restaurant scene.

Baba is a “glamorous restaurant” from “the esteemed team behind Ox and Finch in Glasgow”. It’s “swish, sexy and has the feel of a hotel” with “Persian rugs on the partially distressed walls”, and it has not lost standards over the six years it’s been open, serving “consistently exquisite” food with “daring new ideas”. (27/30)


The Telegraph

“A nimble and accomplished dance of local ingredients cooked with a European flourish.”

William Sitwell headed to Ormskirk in Lancashire for this week’s review. Sō-lō is the oddly named and randomly spelled (even “the spelling on their own website” differs wildly ) second offering from Tim Allen, whose Moor Hall up the road has put the county firmly on the world’s foodie map.

As you’d expect, he serves “food of precision, neatness and exactitude” via the “compulsory six-course tasting menu”. “The room is quiet; service is restrained, polite and measured.”

Dining alone, William felt like he “needed some atmosphere” although admits even with company he’d feel that Sō-lō is “accomplished but it’s a bit like having dinner in a quiet, competent and very well-organised post office”. (****)


The Scotsman

Rosalind Erskine visited award-winning Oban seafood restaurant Ee-Usk for a weekend lunch of fresh fish from the local waters.

It’s a “popular spot for tourists and locals… plus it has beautiful views across the bay to islands of Kerrera and Mull” (handy for the ferry and station, too). (16/20)


Meanwhile, Gaby Soutar was in Edinburgh to try out the new branch of Chaakoo (there are two others in Glasgow); the chain is “inspired by Irani cafes” with small plates served by “smiley young staff”.

“Essentially, this is very like Dishoom” without the breakfast, so “don’t bother asking for a bacon naan” (14/20)


And also…

In The FT Magazine, Tim Hayward reviewed the “utterly lovely gastropubbery” at The Pelican: “some food pubs get away with doing the bare minimum. Notting Hill’s The Pelican does the opposite”.


Manchester Evening Post report from Blackpool, where “the world’s first fish and chips hotel” will soon open: “Gala Bingo has unveiled its Jolly Good Fish & Chip Hotel prototype”.


Bristol Post reported on a city-centre pub that has “the longest wait for a table for Sunday lunch than any other restaurant in the country”. The waiting list at The Bank Tavern currently stands at over four years.


Birmingham Live reported on the temporary closure of Asha’s, due to a fire last weekend.


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