Review of the reviews

Here’s our regular round-up of what the nation’s restaurant critics were writing about in the week up to 24th September 2023.

The Observer

“A hotbed of vegetable-love.”

Jay Rayner reviewed Tendril, a vegan restaurant that “has put down roots in meaty Mayfair and is doing smart things with great produce”, creating “something distinctive, clever and objectively good”.

Tendril started life as a pop-up in a Soho pub, and chef Rishim Sachdeva “launched a crowdfunder to raise the £150,000 he needed to put down permanent roots at this address”. Jay is delighted it reached its target so he can rave about “his thoroughly good taste and his sublime technique; about his ability to use strident Asian and Middle Eastern flavours to get the most from prime vegetables”.

“There’s an awful lot going on here. It’s restless but focused and jolly.”


The Telegraph

William Sitwell took his family to Àclèaf at Boringdon Hall, a fine-dining spot (with “infuriating nounal grammar” for a name) near the “outer suburbia” of Plymouth, and was impressed by the “cute touches” for the children.

The service was “fabulous, attentive, professional” and the chef displayed “confident work” alongside “subtle decorative skills”. (****)


The Evening Standard

A “breezy, Architectural Digest dreamscape”.

Drawn to comparing NYC and London by a comment made to him in New York, Jimi Famurewa reviewed Llama Inn, “a freshly launched and utterly scintillating, Shoreditch-based spin off of Peruvian-American chef Erik Ramirez’s Brooklyn-born hit”, based within The Hoxton Shoreditch hotel (with its own entrance).

Jimi pulls out all the verbal stops in this review: there’s “electrically bright onion salsa”, “indecently delicious, steroidal bacon rolls”, and a “table-silencing spectacle of scallop ceviche” among his descriptions of Ramirez’s take on the “fresh, puckering vigour of Peruvian cuisine”.

And don’t forget the “sparkling panorama across the city”, the “playful drinks list (top marks to the punning, sangria-influenced Llama Del Rey)” and the “stand-out pudding”. (****)


Also in The Standard, Big Zuu, “the grime star with impeccable taste” and a fourth series of Big Eats about to air, lists his top ten London eats.

Mike Daw also presents a round-up of London’s best greasy spoons, “from E Pellicci to the Regency Cafe”.


The Guardian

Grace Dent was also thinking about “the UK’s rather complex feelings about US food” when she paid a visit to Sophie’s Steakhouse, a refined version of what we eat when we’re tourists in the US, with that “bright and swift” service we’re so unused to.

“It’s a classic US-style grill bar” in Chelsea that’s “not loud, blaring or gimmicky”, nor is it “pretending to be anything new, experimental or remotely earth-shattering”.

“All the oily, crunchy joy of eating at an American bar without having to shell out £450 to get to Florida.”


The Scotsman

Gaby Soutar reviewed the re-opened Nairn’s Bridge of Allan, risen from the ashes of the 2021 fire that destroyed it; “at last, they’re back in the game, and you can tell that locals are stoked”. (16/20)


Rosalind Erskine paid a visit to Caffe Parma, a “long-standing neighbourhood Italian” from Stefano Giovanazzi, whose family ran La Parmigiana on Glasgow’s Great Western Road from 1977 to 2016.

“I was pleasantly surprised… but given the restaurant’s ancestry it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s a casual, friendly place to grab a satisfying and classic bite come rain or shine.”  (12.5/20)


And also…

In The Times, Chitra Ramaswamy enjoyed a “Pemberley moment” at Boath House Garden Café in Nairn, a “secret garden” in a “Jane-Austen-esque Highland mansion”.


Tom Parker Bowles was back online for The Daily Mail (his reviews appear to be monthly at best these days) with a visit to Fitou’s in North Kensington, a “restaurant to match Bangkok’s finest”.


Manchester Evening News reported that Cibo (with branches in Hale and Wilmslow) has been confirmed to be taking over the site of Rio Ferdinand’s Rosso, which closed this week, RIP.


Bristol Live confirmed the news from Mowgli that the first branch in the city – planned for over four years but delayed by the pandemic – will open in December in a Grade 1 listed former PizzaExpress site.


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