Review of the Reviews

Our round-up of what the nation’s restaurant critics were writing about in the week up to 24th March 2024

The Evening Standard

Arlington, St James’s

The first reviews are in, and the early indications are that Jeremy
‘Comeback’ King, doyen of London restaurateurs, has a monster hit on his
hands with his heavily hyped Arlington. “Getting a table before 10pm is
already a bit of an impossibility,” declared the Standard’s chief restaurant
critic, Jimi Famurewa, smitten after a “bewitching couple of hours” over
lunch with his wife.

Reminding readers that he was too young to have experienced the venue in
its previous Jeremy King incarnation, Jimi described the joint stylishly as
“a meticulous, unabashedly sentimental remastering of Le Caprice, the
canonical celebrity canteen that operated on this same site for almost 40
years”. As a result, you may “feel like you’ve gatecrashed a lavish and
emotional reunion party” amid the assembly of “Burberry-wearing
glamazons, bohemian money and semi-retired flâneurs in their formal

For all that, Jimi was struck by the way Arlington “reasserts the relevance
and value of suaveness, subtlety and a kind of ineffable, timeless magic
through hospitality”.

Equally impressive was the “sophisticated comfort” food whose flavours
“land as softly as a Hungarian goose down pillow”. The famous old
favourites – bang bang chicken, salmon fishcakes – were all they were
meant to be, while a newcomer, “Russell’s Caesar salad (named,
touchingly, for the late Russell Norman) was poised, abundant and
fittingly brutto ma buono”.


Josephine, Fulham

Jimi’s colleague Joanna Taylor had a mixed reaction to another heavyweight opening, Claude Bosi’s tribute the bouchons of Lyons – and to his Lyonnaise grandmother.

The red velvet drapes and candlelit tables were evidence, she said, that
“romance isn’t dead (unless you don’t like complimentary pork and duck fat
scratchings, in which case: you don’t deserve it anyway)”.

Oeufs meurette and twice-baked Saint-Félicien soufflé hit the spot – the latter a “silken delight”, but “we find the generous slab of fromage de tête (pig’s head terrine) a touch over-seasoned, which turns out to be a theme”: the trotter croquette and “tater tot-like pommes duchesse” were also too salty.

Overall, Josephine was “charming, esoteric and a tad unpredictable”.


The Guardian

Pearly Queen, Shoreditch

Grace Dent was highly impressed by the “newish” seafood place from chef Tom Brown of Cornerstone, where she found cooking of “two Michelin star-level ingenuity going on, even when they’re only slinging oysters in the deep-fat fryer or doling out bread”.

They also do more complicated things with the bivalves, such as “oyster paté, which is piped back into its shell and topped with champagne jelly and purslane”.

Other highlights included a monkfish tail in a rich XO sauce and a dessert of warm gingerbread and Cashel Blue cheese. Pearly Queen may not be cheap, Grace concluded, “but it is a paean to fine British ingredients, and to splurging on butter and decadent dining”.

“Put simply, there will be things at Pearly Queen that you will never have eaten elsewhere, though that’s not to say you won’t do in future, once other people shamelessly rip them off.”


The Observer

Josephine, Fulham

“Oh, my aching old-fashioned heart,” Jay Rayner swooned over Claude Bosi’s bouchon, a “beautifully executed act of remembrance” of his grandmother and of his hometown’s gastronomy – and he had no complaints about the seasoning.

“Everything here really is an indulgence but it’s also precise,” he said,
highlighted a “burnished vol au vent, filled with chicken and mushrooms and up to its comely thighs in the sort of cream-based sauce you would find listed in the old edition of Larousse Gastronomique”.

Better still, Jay found Josephine a lot more affordable than his other
restaurants (Bibendum, Brooklands and Socca), while the ‘canut’ dishes,
referencing the silkmakers of Lyons, were especially good value.


The Times & Sunday Times

Arlington, St James’s

Giles Coren has already eaten twice at what he called “the most talked-about opening of the year, maybe the decade”, which, given its recency, must qualify him as a regular – which he insists he was at the old Jeremy King/Elton J/Princesses Di & Margaret Le Caprice (and “nobody went in the Luke Johnson/Richard Caring years, darling, literally nobody”).

His verdict? “Brilliant” – “And the food is great. Just great. The sort of stuff that you really can eat every day,” including “the best shepherd’s pie ever”.
Giles’s sign-off: “‘I don’t know if Richard Caring really is planning to open a
Caprice somewhere,’ said absolutely everyone. ‘But when he hears about this place, he is going to be mightily pissed off.’”


Port of Leith Distillery Bar, Edinburgh

In Scotland, Chitra Ramaswamy ventured to the top of a newly built 40-metre tower overlooking Leith’s historic port, a £14million project billed as Britain’s first vertical distillery (“the idea is the whisky process ‘trickles down’ the vertical distillery, passing through milling, mashing, fermentation and, finally, distillation.”)

“What a building. What a bar. What views’” she declared. We won’t be able to taste the distillery’s own product for several years, but there are plenty of whiskies to sample in the meantime, and the food – from chef Patrick Whittaker, previously of Hamilton’s and Scran & Scallie – is “seriously tasty”, with a “laser focus on heartiness, distillery produce and seasonality”.


Gracey’s Pizza, St Albans

Charlotte Ivers bemoaned the “boom time for bad pizza” that we live in, the
fashionable “race to the thinnest possible sourdough crust” resulting in “veg-laden pizzas” that quickly turn into “a soggy mess”. 

So she tracked down a practitioner of the New Haven-style pizza, created as a lockdown project from watching Youtube videos by a couple, James and Grace, who have graduated via pop-ups to a permanent site with 11,400 Instagram followers.

“Gracey’s menu is pleasingly simple. Seven types, all with red sauce. All but one with basil. All but one with aged parmesan.”

“It’s only pizza,” Charlotte conceded, but “this one will remind you the magic is still there.”


The Daily Mail

Camille, Borough Market

Tom Parker Bowles added his voice to the chorus of critical approval for this new bistro from the team behind Ducksoup, with its menu of “unashamedly robust, no- nonsense, nose-to-tail stuff, a sort-of tour around France in an old Aston Martin”.

There was plenty of “blood and offal” on offer, including calf’s brains “as good as brains get”, and – as an “elegant riposte” – a less visceral crab on toast with a “bisque sweet and subtle”.


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