Welcome to Bon Vivant’s summary of the critics’ restaurant reviews. Enjoy!
Hugo Rifkind, The Times
Hugo visits the ‘too slick for its own good’ Colony, where everything ‘tasted pretty good’.
Poppadums were ‘rather nice’, a ‘cold, soupy’ amuse-bouche ‘smelled a bit of drains and wee’, spinach and paneer pancakes were ‘moist and crumbly in just the right places’, the dark tarka dhal was ‘great, although so rich they could have stewed it in chocolate’ and the chicken tikka masala was ‘exactly chicken tikka masala and did absolutely nothing else’. No rating given.
AA Gill, The Sunday Times
AA Gill visits the ‘playfully bright and basic’ Terre a Terre in Brighton for ‘incredibly good food’ with ‘enormous, sometimes incoherent flavours and a jumble sale of textures and temperatures’.
Corn cakes and mashed avocado was ‘a brilliant combination of competing flavours’, wild mushroom arancini came with ‘an unbelievably, almost unbearably intense’ shiitake brew, Idli had ‘bright and loud’ flavours and a ginger parkin cake with oatmeal ice cream was ‘one of the best puddings I’ve had all year’. 5 stars out of 5 for the food; 3 stars out of 5 for the atmosphere.
Matthew Norman, The Guardian
Matthew reviews Petrus, where the room ‘squeaks inaudibly beneath the weight of ambient cliché’ and where ‘the food is as bland as the room’.
An onion velouté amuse-bouche was ‘delectably intense’, pan-fried scallops with cauliflower, anchovy and beurre noisette ‘were the sweetest, juiciest, nuttiest oceanic little orbs you could imagine’, roast curried pollack fillet tasted ‘of nothing’ and foie gras mosaic was ‘nice enough, but hardly memorable’.
Main courses were ‘dismal’, including boiled beef cheek in an ‘indistinct consommé’ that ‘had half the depth of flavour of boiled white rice’, but desserts were ‘superb’, including an ‘unforgettably magnificent’ chocolate sphere. No rating given.
Jay Rayner, The Observer
Jay ‘had a very nice lunch’ at Buon Apps in West Yorkshire with ‘some thoroughly pleasing, very solidly prepared dishes’ but ‘nothing was thrillingly different’.
A red-wine risotto was ‘fine’, the salami and smoked hams ‘might have been a little chillier than is ideal, but the ingredients were good’, the chicken diavola was ‘a fair enough piece of chicken baked in a mildly piquant tomato sauce’ and a tiramisu ‘did honour to the name while clogging the arteries’. No rating given.
John Walsh, The Independent
John visits the ‘lovely’ Tangerine Dream Café at the Chelsea Physic Garden, which has ‘a marvellously sure way with food’ and a ‘relaxed feel about it’.
A mixed salad was ‘a cornucopia of tastes’ that ‘was a bit special’, a steak was ‘delicious’ with ‘wondrous’ tiny new potatoes, a duck confit was ‘as perfect as I’ve ever come across’, the sea bass, ‘though fresh and summery, was a little under-flavoured’ and desserts were ‘very fine’. 3 stars out of 5 for the food; 5 stars out of 5 for the service and ambience.
Lisa Markwell, The Independent on Sunday
Lisa visits Guerilla Burgers, a ‘perky operation’ with ‘genuinely helpful’ staff where ‘the burgers are the worst thing’.
Starters of crayfish cocktail, three-bean veggie chilli and chicken bites were ‘all punchy and fresh-tasting’, the hot dog ‘tasted pretty authentic’, sweet-potato fries were ‘crisp and hot’ but the burger was ‘modest’ and ‘meh’ with ‘flimsy’ buns. 13 out of 20.
Jasper Gerard, The Telegraph
Jasper visits The Vanilla Pod in Marlow, which ‘is lucky to have a “local” of this quality’ with a chef that ‘can flourish a decent CV’.
Butternut squash risotto was ‘nicely creamy but could do with another flavour to complement the sweet squash’, the onion and vanilla velouté was ‘utterly excruciating’, rump of lamb with white beans and port sauce was ‘a beautifully presented dish of complex construction’ with ‘tender, thinly carved lamb’, pan-fried gilt head sea bream was ‘a classic’ ‘perfectly executed’, and puddings were ‘better still’, particularly a bitter chocolate mousse and pistachio frangipane. 7 out of 10.
Fay Maschler, The Evening Standard
Fay visits Viajante, Nuno Mendes’s latest ‘place to try with friends’, which has ‘a revolutionary feel in the world of ambitious, discursive, expensive dining’ with ‘notably upbeat, friendly, if occasionally incomprehensible waiters’.
Along with ‘the best bread I have had in ages’, ‘dishes that stood out’ included squid tartare with samphire and squid ink granita, roasted celeriac with tapioca and Saõ Jorge cheese, ‘delectable’ skate with mustard gnocchi, a ‘tantalisingly dainty’ slice of beef served with miso that ‘packed a punch’ and a sorbet of lemon and Thai basil ‘that exploded with flavour.’ 3 stars out of 5.
Marina O’Loughlin, The Metro
Marina visits ‘unassuming little’ Koya in Soho, whish is ‘not much to look at’ ‘but it’s so worth venturing inside to discover what all the fuss is about’ as ‘they know their noodles’.
The noodles were ‘sensational’, including ‘heavenly’ buta miso atsu-atsu (pork noodles in a milky miso and pork broth), the ‘slurpy, lipstick-destroying, chewy suppleness’ of cold zaru udon was a ‘new definition of addictive’, and a salad of tender leaves and deep-fried lotus root was ‘terrifically good’. 4 stars out of 5.
Laissez Fare visits Arbutus, where ‘there is nothing out of the ordinary in terms of the techniques or ingredients’ but offers ‘very good food at very fair prices’ in a ‘fairly relaxed’ setting with ‘good’ service.
Crisp pork cheek and celeriac remoulade was ‘attractively presented’ and ‘had a lovely crisp topping’, curly kale and potato soup was ‘a very memorable soup’, the lamb breast was ‘well-cooked and the fat – of which there was a lot – dissolved beautifully and added a nice richness to the dish’, and the floating island dessert was ‘presented simply and beautifully’ and ‘delicious’. 7.5 out of 10 for the food; 7 out of 10 for the service and ambience.