My final week with Spoon PR has arrived, and with it my final round up of the critics’ musings on dining in London and far, far beyond. So, as I (very regretfully) bid you farewell, take a look at the restaurant reviews, some a little bitter and others ever so sweet, from the past seven days…
(Fear not: “Last Week’s Restaurant Reviews” isn’t going anywhere, and will be back next week as usual!)
Evening Standard (Fay Maschler): Opso 2 out of 5
“There was a chance to fill a gap in the London market and Opso — sited opposite one of the branches of The Real Greek — hasn’t done it.”
Last week, Fay Maschler for the Evening Standard opted for Opso, a Greek restaurant in Marylebone that defines its menu as “social food”. When it comes to portion sizes, Maschler considers servings to be “restrained – to put it politely”, which in her mind “traduces the essence of Greek hospitality”. The food ranges from “cold, stodgy, flavourless spinach pie” to “the deliciousness of syrup-soaked walnut cake with clotted cream and sour cherry”, with a few highs and lows in between. Click here to read the full review.
Opso: 10 Paddington St, W1U 5QL, Marylebone, London
Telephone: 020 7935 0551
Time Out (Guy Diamond) – Opso 4 out of 5
“Properly ripe ingredients are needed to make any sort of Greek salad sing, and this was a virtuoso.”
Take two! Guy Diamond for Time Out also dined at Opso last week and his four out of five stars were a little more forgiving than Fay Maschler’s two. For Guy Diamond, the selection of “excellent meze dishes” can be described as “small plate dishes…that are pimped up almost beyond recognition”. The ‘taramas cream’, “delicate and fresh”, was “a world away from bright pink supermarket tubs” and the tsoureki – “a brioche-like bread usually eaten at Easter” – was “like a panettone in appearance and lightness”. On the wine list, Diamond notes “excellent new-wave Greek wines from boutique producers”. For his full review, click here.
Opso: 10 Paddington St, W1U 5QL, Marylebone, London
Telephone: 020 7935 0551
ES Magazine (Grace Dent) – Eat 17, Hackney
“Three times in a fortnight I’ve washed up there when the fridge was empty for a kingly side order of my new death-row request, its tempura soy pomegranate broccoli.”
Grace Dent, writing for ES Magazine, has fallen under the spell of Eat 17’s new Hackney branch, where “the service is warm and generous-spirited”, which “must be a hard thing to do as so many other venues fall flat”. Grace Dent is smitten with the tempura soy pomegranate broccoli, which she nicknames “Satan’s broccoli” and labels her “new death-row request”, and speaks of “demolishing the soft buttermilk chicken burger with Moroccan coleslaw on a brioche bun”. “Excellent” smoked-ham croquettes and “heavenly” mash are other highlights. To read more of Grace Dent’s shining review, click here.
Eat 17: 64-66 Brooksby’s Walk, Homerton, London, E9 6DA
Telephone: 020 8986 6242
The Times Magazine (Giles Coren) – The Lockhart
“I guess the problem is that I am not a big, bloodthirsty, ass-kicking American werewolf. And nor, in the end, is Lockhart.”
Writing for The Times Magazine, Giles Coren arrives at Lockhart, a self-proclaimed “American restaurant in London”, which in his mind resembles “the upstairs of a Chelsea furniture shop that has decided to put in a few tables and serve tea”. The food instantly impresses: smoked baby back ribs are “hot and sexy straight off the grill, full of the zip and yabber of citrus, smoke and sugar”; stuffed quail glazed with madeira was “delicious although not especially American” and fried chicken was “excellent”, inferior only to Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, California. However, to Coren’s horror, the fillet steak was cooked sous-vide, which he deems one of the great evils of this world, although sous-vide lovers out there won’t be disappointed. The full review is available here to The Times subscription holders.
Menu: 7 out of 10
Chicken: 9 out of 10
Sous-vide: 2 out of 10
Score: 6 out of 10
The Lockhart: 22-24 Seymour Place, London W1
Telephone: 0203 011 5400
The Guardian Weekend Magazine (Marina O’Loughlin) – The Dysart, Petersham
“Anyone sniffy about the suburbs or half-timbering would be missing a trick: there’s some significant talent in this kitchen.”
Taken from The Dysart website
Marina O’Loughlin for The Guardian Weekend Magazine ventures to the “so Not London” part of London, to seek out The Dysart in Petersham, a short footstep from the exquisite Petersham Nurseries. The food “plays with classic French technique and outré Japanese flavours”. The tamarind Challans duck is “a belter”, and the pommes de terre a la Landaise, “a fondant fancy of the butteriest, crispest, finely sliced potatoes” forgives the “rare” off-notes of a “dull” pie of venison and “slightly puddingy” Japanese rice. For the full review, click here.
Food: 7 out of 10
Atmosphere: 6 out of 10 (8 out of 10 outside)
Value for Money: 7 out of 10
The Dysart: 135 Petersham Road, Petersham, Surrey TW10 7AA
Telephone: 020 8940 8005
The Sunday Times Magazine (AA Gill) – Toto’s
“The food is really very well made, the menu a nice, conservative reminder of old Italian tratts, but the room fails to exude or admit any atmosphere. And it is very expensive.”
From a “simple and quiet and old fashioned” albeit expensive menu, the starter of artichoke salad with pecorino was “immaculately well made, as elegant and fine as a magician-produced Hermes scarf”. The pasta course of spaghetti cacio e pepe ticked off “the four ps: pasta, pecorino, pepper and perfect”, followed by a “hot, freshly fried, delicate and robust” fritto misto as a main, which was let down by a dipping sauce “that was far too astringent”. Although made a good impression, the atmosphere was disappointing and speaks of a much changed-Chelsea: “it makes me miss the rakish, lascivious, groping, stained and pleading old Chelsea of its predecessor”. The full review is available to The Times subscription holders, and can be found here.
Atmosphere: 1 out of 5
Food: 4 out of 5
Toto’s: Walton House, Lennox Garden Mews, London SW3 2JH
Telephone: 020 7589 2062
FT Weekend Magazine (Nicholas Lander) – La Ruota, Moneglia
“The restaurant overlooks Moneglia far below, its beach, the calm sea… The vista only improves when the stars come out”.
Nicholas Lander for FT Weekend Magazine continues his culinary escapades, this week to the seascapes of the Ligurian coast of Italy. Dining at La Ruota, which overlooks both the town and beach of Moneglia. Boasting both a “breathtaking” position and a wine cellar “full of French and Italian and gems”, the restaurant seemed to epitomise the concept of destination dining. The experience involved a set fish-only menu at €56 a head and “a performance” put on by just two people: the chef/sommelier/proprietor Edoardo Compiano, and the waitress. The first course of “super-crisp, deep-fried aubergine, onions and seafood”, with an exceptionally “clean and fresh” batter, was followed by a seafood panzanella – “a luscious combination of scampi, warm tuna, tomatoes, olives and crisp, torn toast”: a meal that Lander deems “memorable”. For the full review, click here.
La Ruota: Via Perlemeglio 6, 16030 Moneglia, Italy
Telephone: +39 185 49565
Cheese and Biscuits – Murano, Mayfair 7 out of 10
“But there you have it, an experience from start to finish almost impossible not to enjoy, from the supremely capable staff to the confident food, dishes of Italian influence using the best of British produce in clear and approachable ways.”
Chris Pople, writer of Cheese & Biscuits, tried out Murano in Mayfair, which, he discovered, offers high quality food at an even higher price. His starter consisted of “impossibly light and fluffy ricotta paired with slow-cooked lamb and some of those glossy, cooked-but-firm dressed peas that probably took some poor bastard ages to get right”, followed by a chicken dish for his main course: the “expertly tender breasts with golden crispy skin” accompanied by soft-boiled breaded quails eggs, white asparagus, chestnut purée and shaved parmesan came in an “exquisitely silky” reduced glaze, and demonstrated “accurate, confident cooking”. With desserts that were “colourful, summery, and fun” albeit not hugely memorable, the food was an overall success. To read the full review, click here.
Murano: 33 St James’s St, London SW1A 1HD
Telephone: 020 7495 1127
The Telegraph (Matthew Norman) – St. Clement’s, Sussex
“Every town deserves a St Clement’s, which is one of those saintly places that straddles the border between Michelin standards and neighbourhood cosiness.”
Writing for The Telegraph, Matthew Norman visits St. Clement’s in Sussex, opened about a decade ago by chef Nick Hales, an alumnus of Mark Hix. Norman notes that upon entering the restaurant “we had the premonition of a treat in store”… and what an accurate premonition it was. Offering one of those menus “from which you want almost everything”, including spaghetti with lobster, “the spaghetti being just the right side of denture-challengingly al dente and the lobster generously apportioned” and a duck, pork and chicken liver terrine with “a fine texture and a lovely, deep, gamey flavour”. After main courses that left both Norman and his dining companion “smitten”, he concludes that “this is proper food, cooked to let the ingredients shine vibrantly forth, and designed to please the diner rather than show off the chef’s virtuosity”. To read the rest of the review, click here.
St. Clement’s: 3 Mercatoria, St Leonards on sea, East Sussex, TN38 0EB
Telephone: 01424 200355
The Saturday Telegraph (Zoe Williams) – Kurobuta 4 out of 5
“None of it was as expected, none of it tasted the same, a lot was delicious in an outrageous way, as if it had broken some rule or been wilfully vulgar. But sheesh… how can you argue with food you can’t put down?”
Zoe Williams, writing for The Saturday Telegraph, was anything but disappointed with Kurobuta in Marble Arch, for which her expectations had been set very high. To begin with, the broad beans were “a gloriously fun snack” with a “distinct but welcome” tempura coating. Next came beef tataki: the steak was “tantalising in its shades of depth” made “more elusive still” by “that chase of textures, soft chewiness alternating with crunch”. The highlight of the meal was the soft-shell crab tempura with kimchi mayo, “a flavour that seemed to dive into the sea bed, tricksy but profound”. Click here for the rest of the review.
Kurobuta: 17-20 Kendal Street, London, W2 2AW
Telephone: 0203 475 4158
The Independent on Saturday (John Walsh) – Lyle’s
“If you want to try edgy London cooking, if you want a no-choice dinner in Shoreditch…then head for Lyle’s”
Taken from the Lyle’s Twitter page
Writing for The Independent on Saturday, John Walsh reviews Shoreditch dining spot, Lyle’s, in the trendy Shoreditch Tea Building. While at first the ambience fell a little short of warm and welcoming, this was turned around when the main course of Peas and Ticklemore was served “with a flourish” by head chef, James Lowe. This dish, consisting of “shards of pasteurised goat’s cheese overlaid with raw peas and “pea flowers from Canning Town” was “a new experience of locally-sourced produce”, boasting an arrangement of pink and lilac flowers “so pretty, I thought of taking it home to my seamstress daughter to convert into an Ascot hat”. Click here to read the rest of the review.
Food: 2 out of 5
Ambience: 2 out of 5
Service: 2 out of 5
Lyle’s: Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ
Telephone: 020 3011 5911
The Independent on Sunday (Lisa Markwell) – Yashin Ocean House 8 out of 10
The Independent on Sunday‘s Lisa Markwell tries out Yashin Ocean House, founded by chef Yasuhiro Mineo, who along with his team already has “Nobu, Yumi and The Fat Duck as their collective pedigree”. Delighted from the start, Markwell recounts dish after exquisite dish… mackerel bone and fish skin – “a lip-smacking snack, the full spine crisp and complex in flavour” – and tuna with truffle-infused ponzu, which was “jelly fondant-soft and its fishiness delightfully countered by the rich, deeply savoury jelly and a herb oil”. The “show-stopper” was a “sweet and juicy” yellow-tail kama and daikon stewed with truffle-infused soy. To read more about Lisa Markwell’s experience, click here.
Yashin Ocean House: 117-119 Old Brompton Road, London SW7
Telephone: 020 7373 3990
The Observer (Jay Rayner) – Bettys, Harrogate
“You go for fabulous service from the sturdy waitresses in their perfect uniforms with perforated blouses, as if they’re actually wearing doilies, and the general muttered entreaty to accept that, in here, all is right with the world. Oh, and cake. You go for cake.”
Jay Rayner, writing for The Observer, tries his luck with Bettys in Harrogate, a Although there is “a fine list of teas and coffees”, Rayner opts for “strawberry bellinis the colour of the sunset on a motivational poster”. Although disappointed by the Alpine-influenced lunch selection, including a bacon and raclette cheese rosti and chicken schnitzel, the cakes and pastries really livened things up. This included a Yorkshire curd tart, about which Rayner writes that “the shameless alchemy of sweetened cheese with the currants and the hit of citrus from the lemon curd is a beautiful thing”, and a “proper British almond macaroon, all toastiness and crunch and softness”. These sweet treats, a selection of which Rayner opted to take home with him, acted as “a reminder that Bettys of Harrogate is also a beautiful thing”. To read the rest of Rayner’s review, click here.
Bettys: 1 Parliament Street, Harrogate, HG1 2QU
Telephone: 01423 814 070
If you would like to take a look at earlier restaurant reviews, click here.