Harden’s review of the reviews

levanterThe Observer’s critic-in-chief Jay Rayner heads to Levanter Fine Foods in Ramsbottom in search of thick-cut Galician beef steaks. Unfortunately they hadn’t arrived yet, but that didn’t stop him enjoying everything else that Joe Botham’s Spanish restaurant had to offer.

“We run up a bill of £60 without any booze, but with the lobster, which at £15 is the most expensive thing on the menu. Levanter Fine Foods is the kind of restaurant so many of us seek, where frill and pomp have been dispensed with in favour of feeding people well. I’ll be back for my slab of old moo cow shortly.”


Meanwhile his counterpart over at The Guardian, Marina O’Laughlin, is won over by Borough Market’s latest meat and tapas joint LOBOS – despite her initial shock at its determinedly grungy, dive-y first impression.

“And then Jaume, a chap about to become my new best pal, delivers a glass of dry Juan Gil muscat, all peach and pepper and melon, and with it a plate of padrón peppers, greasy, crunchy with salt flakes – “From me, while you’re waiting.” I get the rogue hot one immediately. Suddenly, this is my kind of place.”


Over at The Times Giles Coren reflects on how heart-wrenching it can be to have to write a negative review. Luckily he loved Islington newcomer Oldroyd (well, apart from the name).

“I could have gone, “Oldroyd?  What sort of a name is that for a restaurant? What does it mean? Is that like where a man is complaining about his itchy bum and someone goes, ‘Is this your first dose of piles?’ and he goes, ‘No, they’re Oldroyds’?” Ha ha ha, you see what I did there? I was gratuitously unpleasant. And it was rubbish. Because that sort of thing just doesn’t come naturally to me.”


The venerable Ms Maschler heads to The Newman Arms in Fitzrovia. Thought to be the setting of Orwell’s ‘proles pub’ in 1984, this old boozer has been taken over by the owner of The Cornwall Project and The Cornish Grill pop-up, Matt Chatfield.

“The short menu, based mainly on what has been delivered that day, offers three choices in the first and main course and handily we are a party of three. The sweetness of fresh scallops is a phrase often bandied about. Thinly sliced horizontally, their douce quality is pointed up by a pearly lustre and also the crunch and trenchant flavour of fermented gherkin cut in slices of similar size. Sliced almonds squeaky in their freshness elaborate the tastes and textures.”


Sunday Times critic AA Gill sets out to review the new Cafe Murano and ends up neatly skewering the problem facing independent restaurants in London.

“London is at a point where its whole consumer face needs a massage for the benefit of consumers, not landlords and shareholders. I’ve just heard that property prices in my area have fallen 10% — whoever thought that would be welcome news? Maybe I’ll get a decent bowl of pho now.”

And Cafe Murano? Well, Gill isn’t convinced it holds a candle to the original (especially in terms of looks) but his dining party enjoys some very good antipasti.

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