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 18th December 2023.


The Evening Standard

A “knack for deftly articulated pleasure and willingness to try things”.

Jimi Famurewa reviewed The Corner, a “louche long-term kitchen residency” from Jackson Boxer that’s “wedged in between luxury womenswear concessions” in Selfridges.

“It’s a light-drenched nook of curvaceous crescent moon booths” that’s unlikely to be discovered by accident, but those who do find it will be rewarded with “floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a sparkling IMAX vista out and over Oxford Street’s grand upper architecture and ever-flowing human river”.

The “immensely talented” Brunswick House and Orarsay chef is “working with and against an unlikely environment” here, which left Jimi with a feeling of “slight disjointedness” but overall “fondness for the pluck and intention, even if there are issues with the final execution”.


Also in The Standard, news of former Quaglino’s boss Des Gunewardena’s plans to open a major new City restaurant at the Royal Exchange next year. “The as yet unnamed destination will occupy the north, south and east mezzanines of the main central courtyard, and a newly-created outdoor terrace at the front of the 279 year old building.”


The Observer

“Clumsily framed comfort food for wealthy people whose problems couldn’t be solved by expensive therapy.”

Jay Rayner tried out Café Lapérouse, one of nine restaurants planned for the former War Office building, now a Raffles. “It is part of a recent boom in bizarrely expensive, glitz-crusted, caviar-drenched money-spaffers in the centre of town” and a spin-off from a Paris restaurant and café (“for the most part Paris is cheaper than London”).

Jay’s “long experience of spendy London gives me low expectations, but I’m always sweetly surprised that these places manage to live down to them so spectacularly”.

Café Lapérouse is “housed in a silvery, free-standing pavilion in the central courtyard, which looks as if it’s been fashioned from a fancy 1970s biscuit tin… The vibe is a Trader Vic’s Tiki Bar meets your nan’s overheated front room in Penge” with booming “young people’s music”.

The French onion soup’s “soup element is missing in action”, he had to cadge bread off the neighbouring table, the “blue lobster tagliolini has a bitter back taste” and the “sponge for the rum baba is made with what tastes like sweetened pond water”. The bill for two was over £350.

There’s no review from Grace Dent this week.


The Times & The Sunday Times

Giles Coren reviewed Sergio’s Italian on Great Titchfield Street, London: it’s “a stonking, old-school trattoria… but if flashing red light glasses of limoncello, 8ft Santas and perfectly good pizzas are not your sort of thing, try the Hunan Man or Pavyllon instead”.


The Telegraph

“This polished establishment is the epitome of tradition.”

William Sitwell visited The Farmer’s Arms in Woolsery, Devon for Sunday lunch; the “the dive-in fabulous sharing fun” featured “massive Yorkshire puds” and desserts “as perfect as the starters”.

Owners Michael and Xochi Birch “are busy creating what they call The Collective at Woolsery. They’ve bought and poshed up the pub, fish and chip shop, farm, manor house and village shop and post office.  (****)


The Scotsman

Rosalind Erskine reviewed the new Sushisamba in Edinburgh’s W Hotel; the “Peruvian meets Brazilian meets Japanese restaurant… has outposts in Dubai, London and Las Vegas”.

It’s “on the 10th floor of the hotel” and there’s an outdoor terrace ; inside, it’s “funky and modern” with an “Instagram-worthy, teal tiled bar with a fairy-lit tree in the centre”.

The small plates menu covers “Japanese tempura, sushi, Brazilian churrasco and moqueca, Peruvian anticuchos and ceviches”; staff are “extremely helpful with suggestions and explanations for what dishes include”.

“Sushisamba is undoubtedly a stylish place to be seen but unlike some venues like this, the food actually stands up to scrutiny.” (80%)


And also…

In The FT Magazine, a review of Kolae, London: “It’s OK to be a few-trick pony when the tricks are as good as at this Thai restaurant from Som Saa… Every single dish, I was thinking “God, yes!””


In The Independent, an interview with Rick Stein: “The food I ate while in hospital for heart surgery inspired my new cookbook”.


Tom Parker Bowles dined alone at Erst in Manchester (“a joyously selfish, utterly self-centred escape from the ever-taxing travails of social interaction”) and was impressed: the “décor’s as cool as the dishes are hot”.


Merry Christmas to all our readers! No ROTR next week, but we’ll publish a double edition on New Year’s Day!


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