The Guardian, 18 October
Matthew Norman visits The Giaconda Dining Room, London WC2
The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang daydream is back. It comes upon me only about twice a decade, and almost invariably after eating at some obscure country house hotel that abhors all poncification, but this time it concerns as urban a restaurant as you will ever find. In the fantasy's latest manifestation, I travel through the capital waving a wad of £50 notes attached to the end of a fishing line, so as to tempt into the back of my Child Catcher's cart Antony Worrall Thompson, Gary Rhodes and every other egomaniacal telly chef who deploys name recognition to fleece the innocent. I then take them to that music shop-infested road known as Tin Pan Alley, shackle them all together with leg irons after the fashion of the Alabama chain gang, expose them to the work of Paul Merrony, order them to justify their pricing structures on pain of a whipping (one that is then administered regardless, purely for the merriment, you understand) and then screech, "Behold, greedy wretches, this is how it should be done!"
The Times, 18 October
Giles Coren visits The Bull and Last, London NW5
I am aware that I will have to be careful with the Bull and Last, a pub 150 yards from my front door which has recently changed hands and is now serving some of the best pub food I've ever eaten, because I have been this way before. On January 12, 2002, in only my second review in this slot, I raved about a new gastropub, constructed on the site of an old carpet warehouse, which had opened even closer to my house, a matter of some 50 or 60 yards away. I wrote that the cooking was terrific, the staff were gorgeous and the value was amazing. I read its arrival as a sign that Kentish Town had, finally, arrived. In my spectacular new local, I declared, "Nobody is showing off, nobody is trying too hard, and nobody, as far as I can tell, is looking to make a fast buck and sell up."
The Bull and Last - review in full>>
The Independent on Sunday, 19 October
Terry Durack visits The Lord Nelson, Burton Joyce, Nottingham So I've been in Nottingham five minutes when a bloke comes up to me on the street. "Excuse me, pal, you wanna buy a pair of jeans?" he says. "I just stole them from Gap." I shake my head. They're clearly not my size. Nottingham is not exactly booming. The only restaurants that appear to be doing any real business in the city centre are those that put on two courses for £8.95 before 7pm. Even Vienna, the new, glam, high-profile opening by award-winning restaurant manager Dave Caddick and the Marco Pierre White-trained chef David Lem, is pin-droppingly quiet.
The Lord Nelson - review in full>>
The Sunday Telegraph, 19 October
Zoe Williams visits The London Carriage Works, Liverpool
The London Carriage Works is in an exceptionally lovely area of Liverpool - vast great Victorian industrialana converted into café'n'delicatessenerie on wide, peaceful streets, nothing so déclassé as a shop or a tramp. Charming service, lovely high ceilings, exposed brick, an informal sense of space: I had not put thing one in my mouth, and already I was recommending it for a large party. There's a sense of event, but no hint that you might be told off. Amazing how few places I could honestly say that about.
The London Carriage Works - review in full>>
Jan Moir visits Madsen, London SW7
All of a sudden eating out feels like fiscal insanity. However, if you must go to a restaurant, I suppose it might as well be a no-nonsense Scandinavian one. For there is nothing like the brisk business of open sandwiches (one wee slice of bread, not two!), meatballs and herrings to remind you of hard times. And even rationing. Madsen has just opened on an island of shops and cafes regularly used as a stepping stone to south Kensington tube station. The restaurant is opposite a Lamborghini dealership and on our first visit some of the most expensive cars in the world shimmered peacefully behind the plate glass window.
Madsen - review in full>>
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