Bloomberg, 26 October
Richard Vines at Kenza
You can smell the incense even before you enter Kenza and descend a spiral staircase to a basement where flickering lights may reveal a troupe of belly dancers heading your way. For a venue in London’s financial district, this is hot. Just don’t focus on the dancers. Kenza wants to be known as a classy venue that is exotic for the right reasons. Its management ruled out a photo-shoot and interview with one of the girls after the Evening Standard gave prominence to a picture with the caption, “City boys will love the belly dancing at Kenza.” Fortunately, this isn’t just a place for navel gazing. Kenza is one of those happy restaurants where the food, ambience and service are all spot on
Read the full review of Kenza here >>
Time Out London, 24 October
Guy Dimond at Gordon Ramsay’s new pub The Devonshire
What’s in a name? Around £67m if that name’s Gordon Ramsay, apparently. That’s one current estimate of the value of the Gordon Ramsay brand – as opposed to Gordon Ramsay the man, who is, as anyone who’s seen him on TV will agree, priceless. Ramsay may never have even set foot in his latest pub for all we know, yet the name is there on the pub sign outside for all to see: www.gordonramsay.com, a guarantee of quality as clear as putting Apple, Nike or Coca-Cola on a product. Except, of course, restaurants and gastropubs cannot maintain the same quality control or consistency as manufactured goods.
Read the full review of The Devonshire here >>
Evening Standard, 29 October
Mark Bollard at Shanghai Blues
Shanghai Blues is the new(ish) kid on the block, which is unexpectedly to be found in the less-than-trendy Holborn in a lavish £2.5m transformation of a Grade II-listed former library. The restaurant is huge and should be impressive. The owners have splashed out on deeply dark furniture, silk awnings and fancy lamps, but instead of being splendid, the whole effect was rather gloomy and hopeless, like an antiques shop in a dying seaside town that has sold off most of its stock.
Read the full review of Shanghai Blues here >>
Metro, 24 October
Marina O’Loughlin at The Fountain
I worry I may be turning reactionary, morphing inexorably into Michael Winner. Oh, the tears I shed over the closure of the New Piccadilly (although the sign on the locked forever door reading ‘Yippee’ hinted that owner Lorenzo Marioni doesn’t share my pain); my horror at the Satan’s-pulling-pad revamp of the Dorchester Bar and the Ramsay-fication of all our most venerable hotels. And now the improvers have been unleashed on that most evocative of foodie institutions, the glorious Fortnum & Mason – a mighty 300 years old this month.
Read the full review of The Fountain here >>