Last Week’s Restaurant Reviews

From Yorkshire to Vienna (and needless to say with a hefty dose of London in between), last week’s restaurant reviews are a mixed bag indeed.  Read on for a round-up of where the critics have been dining over the past seven days, and see what they have to say about it…
Marina Hopkins

Evening Standard (Fay Maschler) – Barrafina     5 out of 5

It can stand as an admirable example of achieving ideal Human Factors and Ergonomics (HF&E) or just a fabulously good place to have a vivacious, ambrosial and, incidentally, healthy meal.”

BarrafinaTaken from the Barrafina website

Last week, the Evening Standard‘s Fay Maschler was first in line (literally) for the new Covent Garden branch of Barrafina. On her starter of pan con tomate, Maschler confirms that the crushed tomatoes and their seasoning “exhibit the perfect simplicity — or deceptive simplicity — that underpins the whole meal”, while her main of turbot “occupies the minute window of opportunity between too rare to bow to a knife and too done to capitalise on its opalescent imperviousness”.  Exuding positivity from start to finish about the food, the wine and the “clear and fair” prices of such “luxury ingredients”, Fay Maschler is adamant that Barrafina is well worth the wait. Read the rest of her review here.

Barrafina: 10 Adelaide Street WC2N 4HZ, London

Telephone: 020 7440 1450



Time Out (Guy Diamond) – Barrafina     4 out of 5

“As we left after a very light meal…the standing queue was already starting to form, the charming staff coping with the onslaught admirably. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.”

BarrafinaTaken from the Barrafina website

Fay Maschler was not alone in her dining choices this week: Guy Diamond, writing for Time Out, was also tempted to check out Barrafina at its new address to see if it was “worth the seven year wait”.  He seems to have been quickly reassured: the décor is “beautifully done”, the staff “charming”, and the food is “tempting and delightful”.  The courgette flower “stuffed with soft white cheese and drizzled with honey” was “a seasonal treat and winning combination of savoury and sweet”, and the pintxos morunos (“little pork kebabs”) he describes as “tender and very moist”.  Diamond considers the extensive wine list to be “as much of a draw as the food, and perfect for experimenting with as you nibble”.  He leaves Barrafina satisfied with his light tapas dinner, but leaves a word of warning to hungry diners that “the bill adds up fast”.  For the full review, click here.

Barrafina: 10 Adelaide Street WC2N 4HZ, London

Telephone: 020 7440 1450



ES Magazine (Grace Dent) – The Palomar

“Rumour said the place is noisy and that the chefs play loud music, that there is dancing in the kitchen, the waiting staff have their names written in the menu and the jars of Jerusalem-style truffle oil-laced polenta with mushroom, parmesan and asparagus are death row-dinner good. All of the above is true.”

Taken from The Palomar website

Grace Dent reviews the “much-talked-about” West End hotspot for ES Magazine, and like many other reviewers before her, her write-up convinces us to believe the hype.  In her exploration of the menu, Dent picks out the shakshukit ‘deconstructed kebab’ as “a comforting plate of heavily spiced minced meat, yoghurt and tahini with pita croutons” and ranks “the cornfed chicken cooked in buttermilk with baby carrots and freekeh” as a favourite.  For dessert, she praises the chocolate cremeux, “a decadent glut of puffed rice, pomegranate coulis, cocoa tuile and almond streusel”; although comparable to a “souped-up Lion bar, Israeli style”, in Grace Dent’s view this could never be a bad thing.  For the rest of the review, click here.

The Palomar: 34 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DN

Telephone: 020 7439 8777



The Saturday Telegraph (Zoe Williams) – The 3 Crowns     3.5 out of 5

“There was one blind spot, and maybe there is room for more adventure. But I admire the project as it is, its simplicity and heartiness.”

Taken from The 3 Crowns website

Last week, Zoe Williams for The Saturday Telegraph checked out “neo-traditional pub” The 3 Crowns, near Old Street.  The starter of asparagus, “glistening with butter and good health”, on a bed of sourdough toast, mashed broad beans, ricotta and herbs “looked and tasted magnificent”, and the smoked trout in the trout salad was well-sourced and “a beautiful delicate colour with a lovely, firm texture”.  Williams was pleasantly surprised at the outcome of ordering the pork patties with artichokes and olives, proclaiming that the minced meat was “much more moist than something classier like a chop, herbier, too”. Dessert was also a success: the pistachio ice cream had “intensity and clarity of flavour”; her dining partner’s “dainty” sorbet was less overwhelming, but then again, William makes a valid point that there must be “a Confucian law somewhere about not trying sorbet when you’ve just had ice cream”.  For the full review, click here.

The 3 Crowns: 8 East Road, Old Street, London N1 6AD

Telephone: 0207 842 8516



The Telegraph (Matthew Norman) – City Social     2.5 out of 5

“Certainly the food at City Social flirted with excellence. But the food, as I remind you far too often, is barely half the battle.”

City SocialTaken from the City Social website

Matthew Norman, writing for The Telegraph, pays a visit to “superchef” Jason Atherton’s “latest asset”, City Social.  Similarly to Jay Rayner for The Observer, Norman is struck by a “clinical aura of profiteering efficiency”.  Nevertheless, the food was more pleasing than the atmosphere: the yellowfin tuna tataki, “faddishly topped with edible flowers and served with impossibly finely sliced radish in a ponzu dressing” is “remarkably good”.  The roasted quail with peas, broad beans and pancetta “straddled the borderline between delicacy and tastelessness, but was partially rescued by a delicious sauce diable”. Norman’s main course of rabbit was “fine” but enlivened by the fregola served with it, and the “Rack of Romney Marsh lamb” was “full of flavour and perfectly cooked”, yet he laments that both dishes “underscored our sense of a restaurant trapped in the past in every respect but its prices, which belong in a dystopian future”.  Click here to read the rest of Matthew Norman’s review.  For Jay Rayner’s review of City Social, click here.

City Social: Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1HQ

Telephone: 020 7877 7703



The Sunday Times Magazine (AA Gill) – The Palomar

“This food is the coming together of so much that has difficulty getting together: a recipe can do what an army can’t.”

The PalomarTaken from The Palomar’s website

It wasn’t only Grace Dent for ES Magazine, but also The Sunday Times Magazine‘s AA Gill who tried this hot new addition to London’s Israeli food scene, and seems equally taken by its lively if slightly chaotic charm.  Opting to dine at the bar, the food was a success from the get-go, with starters of a “fantastic” Yemeni pot bread with tahini, and beef kubenia, which Gill deemed a “a clever regional variation on steak tartare”.  Food is served “eccentrically” and “with such gasps of hospitality it’s impossible not to feel well fed and wanted”.  The full review is available to The Times subscription holders, and can be found here.

Atmosphere: 4 out of 5

Food: 4 out of 5

The Palomar: 34 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DN

Telephone: 020 7439 8777



FT Weekend Magazine (Nicholas Lander): Walter Bauer, Vienna     

Nicholas Lander for FT Weekend Magazine broadens our horizons for this week’s round-up of restaurant reviews with his write up of Walter Bauer: a culinary landmark of “old” Vienna.  After being seated, Lander is confident of finding himself “in the most professional of hands”.  From the “brief” menu, which he observes to be a common trend in Vienna these days, Lander samples “excellent liver sausage with mustard” and a “delicious” fillet of char.  The “wide-ranging” wine list also greatly appealed; from the sweet wine section, Lander describes a Scheurebe that was “fresh, heady and luscious”. The highlight of the experience seems to have been the sociable, relaxed atmosphere among diners and staff alike, which Lander considers to be “a great part of the pleasure of eating here”.  To read the full review, click here.

Restaurant Walter Bauer: Sonnenfelsgasse 17, 1010 Vienna

Telephone: +43 512 9871

No website.


The Observer (Jay Rayner) – The Culpeper

“What matters is substance, and they have that in spades. They don’t need silly gimmicks. After all, they have pork-scratching seasoned popcorn. What more could anyone need?”

The CulpeperTaken from The Culpeper’s Twitter

Writing for The Observer, Jay Rayner questions the ‘grow-your-own’ concept that The Culpeper prides itself on by way of its rooftop garden, pointing out that “given the particulate count in the air over this corner of London, it really doesn’t strike me as especially wholesome”.  Despite this initial hesitation, Rayner affirms that “the food works”.  Their own taramasalata is “smoky and creamy and well served by the crunch of radish and pickled cucumber”, and the grilled pork chop proves to be a “fine, properly seasoned and rested lump of porker”, with chargrilled courgettes “that have taken a beating on the outside while still retaining a sense of self”.  To read the rest of Jay Rayner’s review, click here.

The Culpeper: 40 Commercial Street, London E1

Telephone: 020 7247 5371



The Independent on Saturday (Christopher Hirst) – The Star Inn The City, York

“Located midway between York station and the Minster, you won’t find a finer setting for lunch in this delightful city.”

Last week, The Independent on Saturday‘s Christopher Hirst went to explore restaurateur Andrew Pern’s latest addition to his culinary repertoire, The Star Inn The City, in York. In an enchanting riverside setting, “installed in a former water-pumping station of 1836”, the restaurant offers a menu that “plays the Yorkshire card with a heavy hand”.  Seared sea scallops with spiced Yorkshire pork cheek “worked well” as a combination but he considered it to be overpriced for such a small portion.  The pan-fried breast of Beverley-reared duck was “as pink and tender as you would hope”, and the daily special of North Sea lobster and saffron risotto, summer vegetables and Ribblesdale smoked cheese “looked great” but the choice of Yorkshire cheese over the traditional Parmesan “made the risotto far too saline and fatty”. Christopher Hirst concludes that the food was “a mixed bag at a somewhat daunting price”.  To read the rest of the review, click here.

Food: 3 out of 5

Ambience: 5 out of 5

Service: 4 out of 5

The Star Inn the City: Lendal Engine House, Museum Street, York

Telephone: 01904 619 208



The Independent on Sunday (Amol Rajan) – Felix Yu, Northampton     7 out of 10

“You’d have to be fanatical about Cantonese cooking to go to Northampton just to see Felix; but if you happen to be there, you’d have to hate the stuff not to have a memorable time…”

Writing for The Independent on Sunday, Amol Rajan makes his way to Northampton for a theatre production and “naturally” chooses Felix Yu for his dinner stop, a local favourite frequented by “foodies and thesps” alike.  The “surreal going on seedy” interior leads Rajan to the conclusion that “perhaps more than with any other restaurant culture, Chinese demands you focus on the food”.  Luckily, the food takes centre stage, improved even more by its “excellent value”.  The soft-shell crab with yuzu kosho (“a paste made from chilli and the yuzu fruit”) is a “succulent taste of the sea in light batter”, and the grilled spicy quail comes with “a delicious dose of lemon grass, which cuts through the heat with a citrus twang”.  Although satisfied with the food, it seems as though Rajan’s prime reason to venture to Northampton in the future will continue to be the theatre rather than Cantonese cuisine, but if the opportunity arises, a pre-show dinner at Felix Yu will undoubtedly worthwhile.  For the rest of the review, click here.

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

This entry was posted in Food & Art, Foods Blog, London Food PR, London Restaurant PR, Restaurant Reviews, Spoon Blog 2014, Spoon Loves and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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