Last week’s restaurant reviews…

My first week working at Spoon PR came to a close and Sarah asked me to take a look at last week’s offerings from some of the UK’s top restaurant critics.  Here’s what I found…

Marina Hopkins

Evening Standard (Richard Godwin) – Bottega Friulana     2 out of 5

“With a few more candles flickering and conversations humming it may have felt livelier but the only other diner was a solitary figure from a Joseph Conrad novel, polishing off a bottle of wine by himself”

Bottega Friulana as seen from Portobello RoadTaken from Bottega Friulana’s website

Godwin comments on the “lived-in” atmosphere that makes it easy to forget that Bottega Friulana is new on the scene, yet a lack of fellow diners and an unenthusiastic waiter gives the impression that business is slow.  The food did little to convince Godwin to adopt a more positive outlook: he describes the sarde in saor as “actively unpleasant” and, although they “looked pretty, pink and yellow with a buttery sauce specked with poppy seeds”, the tortelli with betroot were let down by a garnish of wilted sage leaves, which “really should have been nice and crisp”.  More impressed by the wine list, Godwin mentions a “good Gavi by the glass at £7.95” and a palate-cleansing grappa to finish.  For the review, click here.

Bottega Friulana: 140 Portobello Road, W11

Telephone: 020 7243 9382



ES Magazine (Grace Dent) – Fischer’s

“I have vowed to return to Fischer’s again, especially near Christmas when Marylebone High Street is one of the twinkliest, most festive places in London. Shopping and schnitzel sounds like a fantastic plan.” Fischer's

At this “elegant, expensively wrought, mock 1920s Austrian refreshment room”, Grace Dent for ES Magazine is impressed by “alert, charming staff who wilfully meet your eye”.  Unlike the Evening Standard’s David Sexton and AA Gill for The Sunday Times who were less impressed, Dent finds the food to be “comforting and pleasing”: diners can choose from a “short but considered menu of cured fish, schnitzels, sausages, brötchen, strudels, ice cream coupes and traditional tortes”.  She praises the “decadently rich breadcrumb” of the apparently human head-sized chicken schnitzel, and highlights the “perfectly pink” fillet of sea trout with broccoli and toasted almonds as a lighter alternative.  For the full review, click here.

Fischer’s: 50 Marylebone High Street, W1

Telephone: 020 7466 5501


If you’d like to look back at AA Gill’s review of Fischer’s, click here.


Cheese and Biscuits (Chris Pople) – Ramen Sasuke, Soho     9 out of 10

“Not only is Sasuke serving what is surely some of the best ramen in London, they’re doing it cheaper than pretty much everyone else, in a lovely bright clean room and with a smile on their faces.”

Taken from the Cheese and Biscuits website

Writing as Cheese and Biscuits, food blogger Chris Pople foresees a prosperous future for this Soho Japanese restaurant thanks to their outstanding ramen, which, according to Pople, “is why, before too long, they’ll be queueing down the street for Sasuke; by golly it’s good”.  Portion sizes of the side dishes are, in Pople’s opinion, perhaps even too generous: he deems “the bottomless bowl of rice” (£1.50 for a choice of three sides, and “as much rice as you can fill up on after that”) to be “rather surplus to requirements”.  However, the “very impressive” side dish of miso chashu “has taken a true expert’s palate to perfect”, boasting a “deeply complex and addictive creamy broth”.  For the full review, click here.

Ramen Sasuke: 32 Great Windmill Street, London W1D 7LR


Time Out (Guy Diamond) – On the Roof with Q, Selfridges London     3 out of 5

“The flags of many nations fly along the parapet; beautiful people cluster around a cocktail bar; attentive staff are at your beck and call from brunch time until late evening.”

On The Roof With Q at Selfridges London Taken from the Selfridges website

Guy Diamond for Time Out draws parallels with a James Bond setting in his review of On the Roof with Q, as he describes being “whisked high above Oxford Street to a lair that would be the envy of Ian Fleming’s hero.”  The “freshly marinated and properly piquant” sea bass ceviche did not disappoint, whilst he describes the vegetable risotto as “a verdant pool of legumes”: a mélange of fresh greens that capture “the essence of summer”.  Less impressive was the grilled cheese and bacon sandwich, which was insufficiently heated to the extent that “the cheese had barely begun to melt”.  To read the full review, click here.

On the Roof with Q: Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, London W1A 1AB

Telephone: 020 7318 3287



The Sunday Times Magazine (AA Gill) – On the Roof with Q, Selfridges London “On the Roof with Q could have done lots of things up here; what it’s chosen to do is fall between half a dozen bandwagons that passed by some time ago.”

                                 Roof1 Roof2

Taken from the Selfridges website

The Sunday Times Magazine‘s AA Gill was less enchanted by Selfridge’s new rooftop eatery than Guy Diamond for Time Out, depicting it as “a long corridor that’s been suavely decorated for under a tenner and within a couple of hours”.  After a selection of starters which he labels “provincially fashionable but gastronomically unrelated compilations”, he describes the main course as “an object lesson in horrible barbecuing”: the ribs were “dry”and the barbecue sauce was a “virulent, sticky-sweet ointment of tomato paste and Bovril”.  His overall impression of On the Roof with Q was a restaurant offering various dining possibilities “all presented without conviction, skill, authority, excitement or charm”.  For the rest of AA Gill’s review, click here.

Atmosphere: 2 out of 5

Food: 1 out of 5

On the Roof with Q: Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, London W1A 1AB

Telephone: 020 7318 3287



The Saturday Telegraph (Zoe Williams) – 8 Hoxton Square     4 out of 5

“Most of it’s impeccable. I actually feel sorry for all the other places right by it that can’t be as good.”

Taken from 8 Hoxton Square's websiteTaken from 8 Hoxton Square’s website

Just as Time Out’s Guy Diamond, Zoe Williams for The Saturday Telegraph gave enormous praise to the food at 8 Hoxton Square, and like Diamond she concentrates predominantly on the seafood menu.  Williams sampled an “interesting, fresh and complicated” starter of yellow-fin tuna with grapes, cubes of cucumber and fennel leaves, in which the tuna “was so delicate that, to realise its harmony with the aniseedy leaves, you almost had to close your eyes to shut out the world.”  Equally impressive was her “special but also wholesome” main course of cod cheeks, wrapped in pancetta on top of “a jammy, red-pepper mulch, some flaked almonds, grilled pepper and just a hint of heat from a guindilla chilli”.  To read the full review, click here.

8 Hoxton Square: London, N1 6NU

Telephone: 020 7729 4232



The Telegraph (Matthew Norman) – Q Grill

“…while soul food is one thing, and a glorious one at that, soulless food in a clinical setting is quite another.”

QGrill Taken from Q Grill’s website

After Q on the roof, here’s a review for Q on the ground. Writing for The Telegraph, Matthew Norman observes that a “passionate love” for the barbecue cuisine of the American South is “luminescently absent” at soul-food joint Q Grill in Camden.  Equally absent is Norman’s enthusiasm about the dishes: he comments on the “bland but adequate” barbecued chicken wings and the “sugary overkill” of a shrimp cocktail and a sea bass ceviche.  However, the chips were “crunchy and good”, the ‘scrumpy-fried’ onions were apparently “excellent”, and a “sensational” toffee-laced rendition of the Deep South special, apple crumble, seemed to leave a more positive taste in Matthew Norman’s mouth.  For the full review, click here.

Q Grill:  29-33 Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AJ

Telephone: 020 7267 2678



The Times on Saturday (Giles Coren) – Ballaró

“…But by then it was clear that at Ballaró, everything is too much to ask.”

ballaroTaken from the Ballaró website

To say that Giles Coren, writing for The Times, was unimpressed by Ballaró on Haverstock Hill would  be a severe understatement. Coren is scathing about all aspects of the Italian restaurant throughout, from its unfortunate location in the “restaurant death zone of Belsize Park” to the “diffident, reluctant, unhelpful” disposition of the staff.  While the bellinis resembled “a half-pint of Five Alive” and the bresaola arrived looking like an “imported war ration on an oily plate”, the “perfectly okay fried calamari” and “a good veal chop” added a glimmer of positivity to an otherwise very harsh review.  To read more about Coren’s experience, click here.

Cooking: 5 out of 10

Service: 1 out of 10

Atmosphere: 1 out of 10

Sustainability: 0 out of 10 (Ballaró did not respond to the SRA survey)

Score: 1.75

Ballaró: 154 Haverstock Hill, London NW3

Telephone: 020 7586 1107



The Guardian (Marina O’Loughlin) – Ibérica, Farringdon

“God help me, it turns out I like a chain.”

Taken from Ibérica's website
Taken from Ibérica’s website

Last week Marina questioned her “own particular brand of food snobbery” after returning to Ibérica in Farringdon for the third time. She enjoyed a fun atmosphere, charming staff and “unmissable” acorn-fed hams. Apart from “a weird smoked haddock and cabbage dish” she gave enormous praise to the food and stated that she’d “come back for it all.” For the review, click here.

Food 7/10

Atmosphere 8/10

Value for money 7/10

Ibérica Farringdon: 89 Turnmill Street, London EC1

Telephone: 0207 636 8650



The Observer (Jay Rayner) – Toto’s     

“The result, if you can handle the price tag, is rather fabulous; a set of dishes with a certain elegant simplicity. It’s the sort of simplicity which is complicated to achieve.”

Toto's Taken from Toto’s website

Jay Rayner for The Observer praises the “rather fabulous” food menu at Toto’s in Knightsbridge.  He describes the intricately orchestrated asparagus salad antipasto as “a plate of food that feels like it is looking after you”.  The main courses of calf’s liver and veal chop were both “lessons in getting it right, framed by shiny porcelain”, cooked with “pitch-perfect judgement”.  The basil panna cotta is a “high point”, which for Rayner only reaffirms the chef’s already proven expertise.  To read the rest of the review, click here.

Toto’s: Lennox Garden Mews, London SW3

Telephone: 020 7589 2062



The Independent on Saturday (John Walsh) – Kurobuta “It is an instantly appealing restaurant: a buzzy, bustling and hectically youthful room, with half a dozen waiting staff dashing about.”

5710598Taken from The Independent website

John Walsh, writing for The Independent, is struck by the East-meets-West vibe of the food menu at Kurobuta, where Australian chef Scott Hallsworth has, according to Walsh, “sexed-up the idea of bar food into an exciting new fusion cuisine”.  He compliments each sharing dish as “a blissful discovery” and speaks of the “fabulously delicate” tempura. The barbecued baby chicken also seems to have been a favourite, which was “weep-makingly soft inside, charred outside”.  Walsh describes his dinner at Kurobuta as an experience that left him “entranced”.  For the full review, click here.

Food: 4 out of 5

Ambience: 3 out of 5

Service: 5 out of 5

Kurobuta: 17-20 Kendal Street, Marble Arch, London W2

Telephone: 020 3475 4158



The Independent on Sunday (Lisa Markwell) – 64 Degrees    8 out of 10

“Small plates, big ideas. Not all work, but the journey through 64 Degree’s imagination is not unlike walking round the Lanes – worth it to discover some treasures.”

Taken from 64 Degree's WebsiteTaken from 64 Degrees website

The “brave” food is what made Lisa Markwell write an 8-ot-of-10 review for 64 Degrees in Brighton. Her “scallops with miso, lemon grass and land cress” were “splendid” while the “sea bream with samphire, granola and parsley” was full of flavour. However, she was less impressed with the atmosphere as she declared that the music is “L-O-U-D” and the stools, wooden cubes and small tables “uncomfortable”. For the full review, click here.

64 Degrees: 53 Meeting House Lane, Brighton

Telephone: 01273 770 115



If you would like to take a look at earlier restaurant reviews, click here.

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