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 28th January 2024


The Evening Standard

“Measured hits of palate-jolting unexpectedness.”

Jimi Famurewa reviewed Sune, an antidote to the “wine-led sharing-plates restaurant” formula and “chef-led pretentiousness” usually seen in Hackney. (It’s pronounced “sooner” and comes from the Old Nordic word for son.)

It’s a “new Broadway Market spot from married hospitality veterans Honey Spencer and Charlie Sims, plus head chef Michael Robins”, a “soaring little, sun-flooded room beside the Regent’s Canal” that has something special in “the atmosphere, the detail and the welcome”.

“The food here… is most likely to sink its hooks into you”, from the “dish that is already emerging as an unconventional signature… a dairy beef tartare croque monsieur” to the “sort of vivid flavours that make you want to howl in delight”.

“Tremendously good news for Hackney.” (****)


Also in The Standard, a round-up of London’s best accessible and disabled-friendly restaurants and an article on the rise of decent restaurants in London’s theatres, from Lasdun and Forza Wine at the National Theatre to Paro at the Lyceum.


The Guardian

Grace Dent also reviewed Sune, and covered much of the same ground as Jimi Famurewa, from the impressive pedigrees of the co-owners (“Noma is in there, of course, because all restaurants these days must have at least one staff member who has herded ants for René Redzepi”) to the hype surrounding “established foodie hotspot Broadway Market”.

“Let me explain the menu. It is a single sheet of about 10 ever-changing dishes, one of which, on the night we visited, was ready-salted crisps with egg yolk and eel.”

“Whether you consider such a hotchpotch of sharing plates… “a proper dinner” is up to you. For me, these restaurants are more a rumination on fine produce, memories, influences, restaurants worked in and countries travelled to.”

“There is some amazing destination cooking going on at Sune” which is “warmly staffed, determined and still finding its feet, menu-wise”.


The Observer

On the recommendation of a reader, “intrepid” Jay Rayner ventured “a very long way off my patch” to “the unpromising edge of the Great North Road” in London for this week’s review, but was well rewarded. There was even live music (but only on Thursdays for those who are “less keen”).

Bali Satay House is a “brightly lit, white-walled dining room, clad in intricate toffee-coloured Balinese textiles”, serving a menu that “contains familiar words, but the dishes they represent are less so”.

The “satay list is lengthy” (and “deserves all the good words”), the “menu is strong on plant-based options” and the sambal gave him hiccups, but that didn’t stop him.


The Times & The Sunday Times

Giles Coren published an article entitled “eating out’s a steal next to West End greed”, referring to the cost of theatre tickets, and also a “shot in the dak” review of Rayuela, a “brilliant new Spanish joint on Ealing Broadway”: ”there is genius at work here”.

“On a Tuesday night in January the place was (amazingly) nearly full by 8pm.”


Following her review of 111 by Modou last year, Chitra Ramaswamy visited the similar Seven21 in Glasgow and enjoyed the five-course tasting menu for £35.


The Scotsman

Gaby Soutar popped into Edinburgh’s W Lounge, the in-house, all-day restaurant in “the capital’s two-month-old W Hotel” – on the same floor as Sushisamba (and with “the same incredible views”) but far less well known. Sadly, the food was either late, “lame” or “stone cold” – but the Gaelic-myth-inspired cocktails were “lovely”.


Rosalind Erskine reviewed The White Horse in Edinburgh, for “seafood small plates in one of Edinburgh’s oldest pubs”, which dates back to 1742. “Inside there’s… an old world charm” – non-tourists might not frequent this past of the city but “we’d both happily visit again thanks to the good food and great service”.


And also…

In The FT Magazine, Tim Hayward reviewed “theatrical in all senses” Cafe Kitty inside the new Underbelly Boulevard theatre and cabaret venue in Walker’s Court, Soho: “Nouveau-kitsch is a thing now — ‘Fawlty Towers’ cheese salads and all”.


William Sitwell in The Independent reviewed “straightforward” Tipo in Edinburgh and declared he’d “run naked, bare feet on cobbled stones, through a howling gale with lashing rain” for the snacks. “From those lamb fritte to perfect pasta and OTT puds, this is simply lunchtime heaven.” (*****)


Bristol Live reported on newcomer The Clifton, voted one of the UK’s top gastropubs and awarded a Bib Gourmand within months of opening.


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