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 19th November 2023.


The Evening Standard

“As good as it gets.”

Jimi Famurewa reviewed The Devonshire, the “white-hot, Soho megapub” that’s somehow created an atmosphere that’s “some unholy, simultaneous combination of St Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve and the last mobbed Friday night before Christmas”.

“Former Guinea Grill landlord Oisin Rogers” is just “one component of the supergroup of co-founders responsible for the place” which is already booked out beyond January 2024.

“Strange, special and incredibly specific things that are happening” here – a “zealous commitment to detail begins with the bread” and passes by main courses that “pack rigour, mischief and joyfulness into every bite” with only a couple of “very early days” mis-steps.

“The Devonshire is both breathtakingly vast and mystically intimate; determinedly old-fashioned yet not remotely stuffy.” (****)


Also in The Standard, Melanie McDonagh asks “How well does a £1bn hotel do afternoon tea?” at The Peninsula on Hyde Park Corner. With “plutocratic loos, fake Battenberg and a very vibey piano”, it serves up “a combination of amuse-bouches with scaled down desserts, plus sandwiches and little scones” for £110 a head. “There’s no heartiness about this afternoon tea” – she recommends that you don’t go hungry.


The Guardian

Grace Dent reviewed a Soho newcomer that’s branched out from several locations in Paris; Daroco “may be selling mainly just pizza and pasta” but it’s “fancy pizza, titivated pappardelle and hyped-up tiramisu” and it’s sold “in a wildly ostentatious and unforgettable manner”.

Daroco can be found off Greek Street and from the “new, spangly, hyper-modern Tottenham Court Road station,” and is part of Ilona Rose House, “the many thousands of square feet of land more or less behind Greek Street” that’s undergone “recent bulldozing and reimagining”.

“Minimalist is clearly a filthy word” here – inside there’s “an enormous disco pizza oven decorated with a whole flock of blue butterflies”.

Despite “expecting very little”, Grace admits that the food was “more than decent”, with “possibly the best pizzas in Soho… huge, sloppy, soft-based and floofy-edged”.

“A vast, daft restaurant in the heart of tourist land, but it’s also much better than it needs to be.”


The Observer

Still on his “two-week tour of the northeast”, Jay Rayner reviewed Colman’s Seafood Temple which is housed in “a colonnaded bandstand” that looks “out over the foaming waves” in South Shields.

The Colman family “has been serving fish and chips in these parts since… 1905” and took over the bandstand to serve not just the “golden deep-fried stuff” but also has “other fancier routes to tread” – oysters, XL tacos, Malaysian seafood curry, soufflés and a hot seafood platter for two to share for under £100.

It’s “part bargain-priced Bentley’s or Scott’s, part kiss-me-quick-and-kiss-me-again”.


The Times & The Sunday Times

Chitra Ramaswamy visited Kampong Ah Lee Malaysian restaurant in Edinburgh’s Southside for “great home-style cooking”.


Like Jimi Famurewa, Giles Coren reviewed The Devonshire: “What a place. What. A. Place.”


The Independent

Lilly Subbotin went to Margate to review Pearly Cow, which “looks out onto Margate beach” – “the view really is as pretty as a postcard”.

Inside, “velvet upholstery and twinkly lamps pair with the colours of the sea to offer up a comfortable yet luxurious setting for a long, seaside lunch”.

She’d checked out the menu in advance, which “can often set you up for disappointment, as reality doesn’t always match up to the culinary delights conjured in your mind”.

“Luckily, this wasn’t the case with Pearly Cow.”

There was “a lobster roll that was almost too pretty to eat”, a “seasonal and creative cocktail menu” and beef fat chips that were “the star of the show”.


The Scotsman

Rosalind Erskine visited The Little Chartroom in Edinburgh for Saturday lunch; she’d been following the “stellar work” of Roberta Hall-McCarron since a pre-Covid meal at Gleneagles.

The seasonal three course à la carte menu is £65 per person.

“From the look and feel of the restaurant to the dishes and service from staff, it was a triumph. With the option for a tasting menu also available, it’s an ideal spot for a celebratory dinner or… just a relaxed lunch.” (8/10)


And also…

In The Financial Times: where to find the world’s best beef; Jamie Oliver’s favourite London haunts; a Christmas potluck party with nine top chefs; and the UK’s 19 cosiest winter restaurants — according to FT writers.


Manchester Evening News revealed the news that Tom Barnes, executive chef at Simon Rogan’s acclaimed L’Enclume, is to open his own restaurant in Manchester city centre, called Skof.


Share this article: