Review of the reviews

Here’s our regular round-up of what the nation’s restaurant critics were writing about up to 15th October 2023.


The Guardian

“Part pub, part living history.”

Grace Dent was in Cumbria, and is already planning a return trip to The George and Dragon in Clifton, just outside Penrith; it’s “a country estate pub, and part of the Askham Collection” which runs Askham Hall and restaurant Allium just up the road.

It’s a “very old pub” that was “tastefully restored in 2008, but decidedly unspoiled” – the “quaint” décor is mostly “its own delightful collection of paintings and artefacts from Tudor and Stuart times, plus three wood fires and lots of cosy spots in which to settle”.

The “open kitchen in the large, informal dining room” serves up snacks and bites, but “if chef Gareth Webster and his team are going to the trouble of making pies fresh every day, it would be a huge shame not to taste them”.

“You will not leave here hungry.”


The Observer

“The whole thing feels mildly ill-at-ease with itself.”

Jay Rayner reviewed The Campaner, “the new London outpost of an apparently famous restaurant group in Barcelona” that’s been dropped into the private “Qatari-funded development which occupies what was once Chelsea Barracks”. Prices for the mostly Spanish menu are what you’d expect for the location.

It’s “a red brick edifice of vaulting arches” decorated with “oversized lampshades” and “giant tins of caviar”. There are small plates and some “fearsomely priced big plates” on offer.

“Some of the food here is really very good. Granted, some of it isn’t. A couple of dishes make us frown and tut. But the good things are terrific.” (Try the vitello tonnato ‘Frankie Gallo Cha Cha Cha’ but avoid the “spicy sausage rolls”, while Catalan “socarrat” with red prawns is “an absolute belter of a dish”.)

“The eating is mainly good here – as long as you have deep pockets.”


The Telegraph

William Sitwell is the first of the national restaurant critics to review Plates by Purnell’s, the new spot from Glyn Purnell that was loudly anticipated in the press but we’ve heard little of it since opening.

“Wrapped around the central core of the ground floor of a Victorian building”, it’s a “sweet and lively Spanish tapas restaurant in Birmingham… not far from the city centre” and a stone’s throw from Purnell’s “fancier, Michelin-starry place”.

A few of the dishes “could have done with some oomph, some seasoning, a little left hook to my taste buds” but the grilled octopus was “impeccable” and the Eton Mess (“Desastre de Eton”) a “highlight”. (****)


The Times & The Sunday Times

Charlotte Ivers was in “gentrified Levenshulme” in Manchester, at wine bar and restaurant Isca Wines, which served up “vibrant veg with moral righteousness”.

Chitra Ramaswamy reviewed Five March in Glasgow, which was “relaxed, serious and effortlessly cool”, one of those “hipster neighbourhood locals with globe-trotting and ever-changing menus” that are “here to stay”.

Looking to recommend a cheap eat, Giles Coren paid a visit to Chinatown’s relative newcomer Kung Fu Noodle where all you can have is soup, but it’s “vast, authentic and £13.80”. It’s known as a “chefs’ favourite budget-friendly restaurant”.


The Evening Standard

No review from Jimi Famurewa this week, but there was an article on The Brown Dog in Barnes getting a “new lease of life” from George Glasgow Jr, the CEO of George Cleverley Shoes in the Royal Arcade on Old Bond Street, plus investment from “a few famous local names” including “F1 legend David Coulthard”.


Also in The Standard, an article on London’s sushi restaurants that don’t cost a week’s rent, and Mike Daw experienced working a shift at Evelyn’s Table.


The Scotsman

Gaby Soutar enjoyed huge portions of “hot and sticky Korean food favourites” at Bibimbap, on the former site of The Pakora Bar in Edinburgh; it’s a new opening from the group which already has two sites in Glasgow. (66%)


Meanwhile, Rosalind Erskine reviewed Glasgow’s Rickshaw & Co in National Curry Week: it’s “undoubtedly a fun and funky restaurant but some of the dishes don’t live up to standard and the service was a bit slow” but “the best dishes were not the usual classics” so she’s tempted to go back again. (13/20)


And also…

“Truly fascinating.” In The FT Magazine, Tim Hayward reviewed Mountain in Soho: “Yes, everyone’s going to Tomas Parry’s new restaurant — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join them.”


Tom Parker Bowles in The Mail online reviewed 64 Goodge Street, from the “reliably excellent” Woodhead Restaurant Group behind Portland, Clipstone and The Quality Chop House: “sometimes you know a restaurant’s going to be a good’un way before you’ve had your first bite”. Snail bon bons highly recommended (“one of the year’s great dishes”).


Manchester Evening News featured Bondi Bowls, a healthy fast food joint that started as a home delivery business, popped up all over the city and now has its first permanent home, at Kampus in Chorlton Street.


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