Review of the reviews

Our summary of what the national and local restaurant critics were writing about in the week ending 13 February 2023.

The Evening Standard

“Quite an old-fashioned, family-run restaurant formula in an enlivening new guise.”

Jimi Famurewa truffled out a restaurant inside “a swish residential development” in Hoxton; Eline is “a gorgeous little restaurant and wine shop that has the full package”.

“Here is purity of intent, obvious talent, and a neighbourhood spot radiating the sort of characterful warmth, luminous cooking, and loveliness that isn’t readily associated with these identikit rooms.”

It “feels a natural progression of the accumulated experience and passions” of “wine expert Maria Viviani and chef Alex Reynolds”, who met while working at Pophams. The “very small but considered menu” serves up dishes in “a highly fluid style we might call modern Franglish” that’s “animated by playfulness and pleasure”.

Also in The Standard, a list of “10 essential London restaurants for out-of-towners (that are actually worth it)… whether you’re a tourist or a long-suffering Londoner tasked with showing off the city”, plus recommendations from three Reveller writers on the best pizza in London.

Josh Barrie reported on the forthcoming opening of The Parakeet, “a new “culinary-led” pub and dining room” in Kentish Town, from two former Brat chefs, Ben Allen and Ed Jennings.

The Guardian

“There is skilled, judicious cooking happening here, but there are also a lot of slightly old-hat ideas delivered in an instantly forgettable way.”

Grace Dent visited Samphire, at the “newly renovated Stanwell House boutique hotel in Lymington”; it’s a “cacophony of bold, floral wallpapers, Kia-Ora-orange chairs, sage banquettes, fuchsia scatter cushions and accent lamps” that scream “we’re not one of those aloof, Scandi, trial-by-dinner spots where you have to pretend that live ants and raw duck offal are delicious”.

(“There’s also the Salt Bar and the Orangery, which don’t take themselves too seriously and were packed with guests on the Saturday I visited.”)

“Samphire may struggle to attract daytime diners because it feels instinctively way more formal and fussy than its counterparts… [although] the prices in all three options are roughly the same.” (“By and large, everything at Stanwell is rather expensive wherever you perch your bottom.”

The Times

“There was nothing being done by hand here… apart from the opening and closing of the freezer.”

Giles Coren reviewed Pot + Rice after ‘reading’ about it on Weibo (“I have a Weibo account, of course, to keep tabs on London’s Chinese food, but I confess I depend entirely on the pictures”) and seeing “photos of it rammed with young Chinese”.

“It’s in Elephant and Castle, in a brand spanking new development built entirely out of Lego” and was “was easily found, shiny, new, colourful and bright and rammed with all the right sorts of people, face down in their bowls, fingers scrolling”, giving Giles “high hopes”.

The menu is “the classic multi-ingredient clustersplat of your common-or-garden “pan-Asian” menu… the kind of thing everyone from Gordon Ramsay to the Ivy rolls out these days”.

The eponymous pots were “bland, bland, bland”, but Giles did (just) stick within budget – it would have been cheaper if his friend hadn’t ordered foie gras. Either way, he’s “not planning to return anytime soon”.  (9/30)

The Telegraph

William Sitwell reviewed the new Piccadilly pasta joint, Notto, “one of several businesses run by the brilliant chef Phil Howard”.

Designed as if a rollout is on the cards, it is “stark, pale, bright, with lots of glass, breezy, informal and with elegant service and not a hint of cosiness” with a lunch menu that’s “a considerable leap for the wallet from a sandwich”.

Starters were “irresistible” and “excellent” but William’s not sure that the sharing plate consept works for pasta (staff advise three dishes between two);  I’m uneasy even twisting my fork into my wife’s plate of pasta, and me and [his guest] Bev hadn’t even got to first base” and “the flavours then merged into one”.  (***)

The Scotsman

Gaby Soutar stopped en route to Glencoe to visit Nick Nairn’s restaurant at Port of Monteith; Nick’s opened mid-2021, with a home shop run by the celebrity chef’s wife; it’s “a beautiful space, with a fire going, vases of leggy wild flowers and snaps of the owner and all his buddies”.

There’s a “huge outdoor dining space”, and the “menu is fancy in parts, but there are soul food options too”, including Paul’s Pizza. All in all, it was “well worth a detour” and “hard to leave”. (18/20)

And also…  

Lucky Jay Rayner is in New York, where he dined at – among other places – Koloman, the “Austrian-influenced” restaurant inside The Ace Hotel “which is so high up everybody’s “hot right now” list, I have to don an oxygen mask, access my acute lack of shame, and use my contacts to bag a table”.

Tim Hayward in The FT Magazine reviewed Fallow. “Sit, eat and take notes… The St James’s restaurant is the definition of a central London modern British – in a good way.”

Birmingham Mail reported on the move by Cheal’s, which has shifted from Henley-in-Arden to Knowle, gaining 20 extra covers, a lounge and a cocktail bar.

Manchester Evening News gave us a sneak peek inside Higher Ground, from the team behind Flawd, and reviewed Sparrows, the “Michelin-recommended restaurant hidden in a Manchester railway arch”.

Also, news that the San Carlo group has bought the Alderley Edge branch of Gino D’Acampo’s Luciano’s, with the intent of re-branding and re-opening within weeks.

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