The Guardian, 1 November
Matthew Norman visits Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, London SW1 There are many reasons to revere the Michelin deities of Britain, but for me the one that elevates admiration into adoration is their refusal to entertain a shred of self-pity. Their stoic aversion to the lure of victimhood puts you in mind of those heart-rendingly brave wartime East Enders, as filmed by Pathe News, standing outside the smoking husks that had once been their homes, grinning in toothless defiance as they cheered the passing Mr Churchill. "Very simple," Marcus Wareing said when asked recently why he had broken up with Gordon Ramsay. "When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and all you see is a man who is constrained, confined and trapped, then you've got to change. I want to be my own man." Ah, the agony of imprisonment at the Berkeley, with Gordon as Mr Mackay. Not since John McCain in the Hanoi Hilton did any man suffer such grievous incarceration at a leading hotel. Until, finally, Marcus drove out his jailer - Gordon departed the Berkeley, taking with him the name of Petrus and leaving his erstwhile close buddy sprinkled with the fairy dust of eponymity.
The Independent, 1 November
John Walsh visits The Compleat Angler, Henley, Berkshire The Compleat Angler is one of those hotels (and book titles) that seem the quintessence of Englishness. It fills your head with thoughts of Henley Regatta and Ascot Races, Eton and Oxford, Izaak Walton and J R Hartley and whoever it was that wrote, "Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song". The hotel is 400 years old and sits perched on the riverside where, in summer, white cabin-cruisers disgorge well-heeled Home Counties couples to sit at the front lawn's white tables and chat the afternoon away. It's here that William Drabble has brought the décor and kitchen skills from Aubergine, the Fulham restaurant where Gordon Ramsay first made his name, and which won Drabble a Michelin star in 1998.
The Compleat Angler - review in full>>
The Observer, 2 November
Jay Rayner visits The Angel, Manchester
In one regard, Robert Owen Brown is like God. He moves in mysterious ways. He has flitted his way from one Manchester eating house to the next, doing manly things with sustaining lumps of protein and huge whacks of carbohydrate before suddenly moving on. The last time I came across him he was cooking at a pub called the Bridge, where one of the vegetables with a main course was listed as ‘little peas'. Why? ‘I was writing the menu and I couldn't bring myself to put petits pois,' he told me. ‘The peas aren't French, the food's not French, I'm not French. Why put them in French?' You have to like a man who says things like that. Really. I insist that you do. I also implore you to adore his latest venture even though, like some mangy hound just in out of the rain, it challenges your love.
The Angel - review in full>>
The Sunday Telegraph, 2 November
Zoe Williams visits Giaconda, London WC2
I never know what people mean when they say ‘no frills' about a restaurant. Do they mean no amuse-gueules, or no tablecloths? Just regular bread, without Norcian white truffle, or ‘keep your knife and fork between courses'? There are just so many frills in this business. Giaconda is at the keep-your-cutlery end of the scale. I was very slightly late to meet A, and in the small dining-room I couldn't see her at all, until I realised that she was the singleton sitting so close to that other couple she looked like a really bad private detective. A was drinking a glass of gavi for £4.25, which she said was very good value. She ordered a fish soup with rouille and croÁ»tons (£5.50). This was the first time in my life that I'd seen an appetising croÁ»ton, and the soup was good, too, with discernible lumps of fish (they can be a bit granular when you over-mince them). Rustic, tasty and Marseillaise, I thought (the town, not the song).
Giaconda - review in full>>
The Sunday Times, 2 November
AA Gill visits York & Albany, London W1 York & Albany is run by Gordon Ramsay Holdings, but the cook is Angela Hartnett, late of the Connaught, who isn't cooking at her other new restaurant, Murano. I've been told great things about this place. It's an attractive building that's been turned into a small hotel, though why anyone wants to stay in Parkway, Camden, is beyond me. Inside is a very large, very empty zinc bar, all painted in this year's festive tones of fat Turk's wifebeater. The restaurant is a small, awkward room stuck at the back, with tables too close together, giving it that cramped, migrant-in-transit feel. I always mistrust the intentions of places whose bars are bigger than their dining rooms, like a skewed ratio of tits to hips.
York & Albany - review in full>>
Jan Moir visits Arch One, London SE1
What is chef Gemma Tuley doing slumming it under the arches at Waterloo? Tuley is the head chef last glimpsed launching Foxtrot Oscar, Gordon Ramsay's bistro in London. She has also worked with the excellent Mark Sergeant at Claridge's and was given a term with the Guy Savoy organisation in Paris, a career-enhancing experience organised for her by Ramsay. As the only person in the kitchen who did not speak French, Tuley had to suffer the indignity of being pulled around by her pony tail when being shown what to do. She responded not by taking a crash course in French, but by cutting off her pony tail. Smart girl. So why is she here, knocking out £8.90 set meals after all that superior training? Not that there is anything inferior or second rate in turning out a good restaurant meal for under £10. On the contrary, such a thing takes enormous skill and must draw upon a deep knowledge of how to extract the best flavours from the most unprepossessing ingredients. It's irrelevant anyway, as Tuley is not here today. Which is kinda worrying on the second week of opening, but we press on.
Arch One - review in full>>