Review of the reviews

Here’s a quick Bank Holiday round-up of what the nation’s restaurant critics were writing about up to 27th August 2023.


The Guardian

“They’ve already won my heart.”

Grace Dent visited Goodge Street, that “hotbed of smart, impressive places” to review 64 Goodge Street, the new addition from “Woodhead Restaurant Group, which runs The Quality Chop House, Portland and Clipstone” all “reassuringly brilliant places” that are “earnestly thought-out restaurants with top-class chefs and diligent service”.

Here, they have “taken over a former travel agency, gutted it and re-imagined it as an elegant French bistro”; can 64 Goodge Street continue the “magical legacy” of its stablemates? Undoubtedly, in Grace’s opinion.

As well as French dishes and “sauces of untold richness that are extremely difficult to get right”, it’s “rather quaintly British… a gloriously quiet, music-free, old-school dining room”.

“This is the feel of a restaurant group confidently forging new ground, while sticking firmly to the principle that made it in the first place: finesse without pretentiousness.”


The Evening Standard

A “misty-eyed” David Ellis also reviewed “stylish, sexy and civilised” 64 Goodge Street, declaring it “Paris’s best bistro … in Fitzrovia”.

“This is old-fashioned French stuff, plain and simple. It just happens to have been executed almost flawlessly.”

He did point out the cost, which is high in this part of the world: “I found my dream, I just can’t afford it. You can’t have it all. Mais bien sur.” (****)


The Telegraph

William Sitwell got lost in Bath and eventually located The Gaff, the second branch of the Abergavenny original. It’s “glass-fronted and breezy with pale woods and grey walls” and filled with “tattooed stove creatures”.

The creatures serve up food that’s “bang on trend with sharing plates… and a mix of ‘dirty’ food”; William ate a “host of brilliantly flavourful, inspired and colourful dishes”.

The décor “would benefit from a raucous grunge mash-up” to match the menu “but The Gaff is seriously top notch and stunning value”. (****)


The Times

Chitra Ramaswamy was in Merchant City at “a flashy cocktail bar and restaurant in a renovated A-listed landmark called” 1802 @ Hutchesons Hall, a “wonderful” building with a “white façade and elegant clock tower”.

“There seems to be an unfortunate correlation between the grandeur of such historic renovations and the quality (and cost!) of the food. But my hope, always, is to be proved wrong.”

Sadly, she wasn’t. The food “looks beautiful” but was often “underseasoned”, disappointing and expensive. (18/30)


Giles Coren returns with a review of JM Oriental in Colindale, the “totally different, totally Mayfair” spot on the former site of Jun Ming Xuan which he reviewed 10 years ago.

He ate “some very, very, very good, very posh, sleek, brilliantly made, top-end, tasty and not too expensive dim sum”. (24/30)


The Observer

“Dollops of culinary wit… and technique.”

Jay Rayner dropped in on Epicurus in the “cobbled, labyrinthine mess that is the refurbished Stables Market at London’s Camden Town” that’s now a “veritable food-hatch Babylon”.

He found a railway arch with “bored looking” staff and no customers and “badly printed” menus, but it all picked up once he decided to give it a go.

Epicurus is “a side project by two ex-Palomar chefs, Shiri Kraus and Amir Batito, who already have a steakhouse in Camden called the Black Cow”. They describe it as “an American diner, but one that’s been hanging out in Tel Aviv” – the Sloppy Joe becomes the Sloppy Yossef, and there’s “boozy, grownup shakes”.

“It’s food for a gang of younger people feeding the deep carb-calling hunger they’ve nurtured” and “deserves to be full”.


The Scotsman

For her birthday, Gaby Soutar visited Inver in Cairndow, “considered one of Scotland’s best restaurants” and proud owners of a “green star for its sustainable practices” from the tyre men.

The former crofter’s cottage “caters exclusively to their residents” from Monday to Wednesday, “but from Thursday to Sunday, proles like me can book. Hooray”. They plumped for the “a la carte lunch menu, rather than the six-course tasting offering that’s available in the evening”. (19/20)


Rosalind Erskine visited Cottonrake Café in Glasgow, a new cafe from a popular bakery that’s been around for a decade or so, “well known (and loved) for its stacked sandwiches, freshly baked bread, pastries, cakes, macarons and cookies”. The flavours in her brunch were “well balanced and utterly delicious”. (16/20)


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