Welcome to Bon Vivant’s summary of the critics’ restaurant reviews. Enjoy!
Giles Coren, The Times
Giles visits the ‘iconoclastic’, ‘urban’ and ‘irredeemably modern’ Magdalen Arms in Oxford, which ‘is currently serving the best food of its kind for 50 miles around’ with a ‘dreamy’ menu.
English octopus was ‘cool and beefy, purple and white and sweet as scallop flesh, tender’ ‘and gorgeously native-tasting’, asparagus served with drawn butter was ‘barely hatched and barely cooked, twinkly like emeralds and sweet like Haribo’, hake with potato and chorizo was ‘just dazzling’ with ‘perfect’ fish, the rabbit with mustard and cream and bacon ‘looked so good’, and the pork stew with polenta was ‘another triumph’. 8 out of 10.
AA Gill, The Sunday Times
AA Gill visits Gauthier, a ‘contemporary French restaurant’ in a ‘skinny little townhouse with small, cramped rooms’ in Soho, where ‘the seasoning is underwhelming on everything, as if it were afraid of strong tastes’.
Tomato capellini in green soup, olive-oil tart with vegetables and cold broad-bean soup were all ‘very neat and polite, and exceedingly bland’, a summer truffle risotto was ‘very nice’, John dory with lime was ‘a tiny tranche of fish’, ‘not enough to sustain, just enough to annoy’, lamb was ‘little rosy nuggets of tough and insipid sheep that was too tepid’ and ‘pudding was the best bit’ ‘including a soufflé in a duck egg, which was passing clever’. 2 stars out of 5.
Matthew Fort, The Guardian
Matthew visits The Pump House in Bristol, where ‘there is fine, judicious cooking going on’ with ‘thoughtful dishes well-made from very carefully sourced ingredients’.
The cured pig’s cheek was ‘a light delight, delicately smoky, peppery from the flower, the egg providing just the right degree of ping’, the red mullet, ‘although a magnificent piece of fish’, was ‘muddled on the flavour front’, the wild rabbit ballotine had ‘large chunks of meat in which the rabbit flavours hopped about in agreeable fashion’ and the cherry parfait was ‘decent, but cherry is a difficult and subtle fruit, and some of its piercing deliciousness got lost in translation’. 7 out of 10.
Allan Jenkins, The Observer
Allan visits Gauthier in Soho, where ‘pedigree and hunger for more stars shine through in the quality of the cooking, the relentless pre-starters, the good butters and breads’.
Crab with crustacean jelly was ‘clean-tasting, fresh if not exciting and surprisingly small’, the summer truffle risotto was ‘faultless, with a generous layer of finely sliced truffles’, monkfish with girolles offered ‘satisfying savoury mouthfuls’, but John Dory with lime was ‘a dull piece of fish the size of an After Eight’, guinea fowl fell ‘from the bone’, duck egg soufflé was ‘delightfully light’ and a signature Golden Louis XV chocolate and praline stole ‘the show’. No rating given.
John Walsh, The Independent
John visits Café Luc in Marylebone, which ‘has bags of style and its chef’ ‘has a rare eye for beautiful display as well as flavour’ with ‘terrific’ food.
A crab tian was ‘a little work of art’ and ‘tasted good’, Scottish scallops ‘were, unusually, steamed in a wine marinière rather than seared in a pan’, red mullet served with a bouillabaisse reduction was ‘a gorgeous combination that tasted as good as it looked’, and organic chicken supreme with champagne, wild mushrooms and pappardelle was ‘an irresistible combination’. 4 stars out of 5 for the food and service; 3 stars out of 5 for the ambience.
Matthew Norman, The Telegraph
Matthew visits Abu Zaad, ‘one of Britain’s tiny handful of Syrian restaurants’ in Shephard’s Bush, which is ‘firmly in the bargain basement gaudy Middle Eastern style’ where ‘the food is immaculately fresh, and usually well prepared and cooked’.
Fatoush ‘zinged with lemony, minty sharpness’ and the tabbouleh was ‘superb’, Halloumi was ‘fried to an alluring brown finish’, Foul Mutalla (broad beans in olive oil, garlic and coriander) was ‘a bit sub-par’, minced lamb with aubergine and yogurt was ‘delicious and aesthetically pleasing’, the chicken was ‘glorious, all juicy and crispy and savoury’ and okra with lamb cubes was a ‘cinnamony delight’. 8 out of 10.
Elfreda Pownall, The Telegraph
Elfreda visits La Becasse in Ludlow where ‘fine dining doesn’t get much finer’.
Tiny clams cloaked in foam and sitting on a green-flecked pasta square were ‘fine but underwhelming’, goat’s cheese salad ‘tasted like pudding’, halibut with a parmesan crust was ‘perfectly cooked’, the chicken was ‘pink on the breast, and pinker on the leg’, a dessert of poached peach with a puréed rice pudding was ‘really good’ and a chocolate and beetroot cake was ‘good, but the uncooked vegetal strings surrounding it was one beetroot too many’. 5 out of 10.
Marina O’Loughlin, The Metro
Marina visits Viajante, ‘the new project from Portugal’s wild Nuno Mendes’, which ‘is well worth the trip east to Bethnal Green for anyone who considers themselves a foodie’.
A whole roasted broad bean pod was ‘filled with its peeled beans and São Jorge cheese’, baguettes were ‘sensational’ ‘with almost caramelly butter’, charred leeks, white asparagus, hazelnuts and milk skin with grey blobs of ‘leek ash mayonnaise’ was ‘a sublime vegetables-only dish’, and pork neck and langoustine was ‘a delectable’ ‘number’. 5 stars out of 5.
Rich Major, the Grumbling Gourmet
Rich visits Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, where ‘service throughout was flawless’ with ‘attentive, knowledgeable’ staff.
Herb parcels in filo pastry were ‘deliciously salty and very more-ish’, an ‘amuse of heirloom tomato mousse’ was ‘less inspiring though a handy palate cleanser’, Scottish langoustine salad with coral jus was ‘some of the sweetest shellfish I’ve ever had’, the roasted rib, saddle and kidney of milk fed lamb, served with ‘perfectly cooked’ roasted purple artichokes and new potatoes was ‘a revelation’, ‘technically one of the finest takes on this dish I’ve had, with a wonderful clarity of flavour’, and the roasted native lobster with seasonal vegetables was ‘simple perfection in ingredients and preparation’. No rating given.