The Daily Telegraph, 14 February
Jasper Gerard visits St Pancras Grand, London NW1 Ah, perfect for Valentine's, so Brief Encounter. Strolling towards the newly refurbished St Pancras Grand I even whistle that line from These Foolish Things about "trains in empty stations…" OK, the statue of a canoodling couple is a tawdry, shallow bastardisation of love but it's entirely fitting for Valentine's Day. Long before aeroplanes, the great hiss of steam under WH Barlow's vast canopy must have seemed impossibly romantic. So, too, Sir George Gilbert Scott's adjoining hotel. Talk about "pimp my gothic revival". How we could use some of that vaulting Victorian ambition to see us out of our present slough. Oh and how, after dinner here, could a date not be in the mood for love?
The Guardian, 14 February
Matthew Norman visits The Sir Charles Napier, Chinnor, Oxfordshire In an age when imperial warriors were better educated, if not better intentioned, than they are today, a Victorian warrior made a pun at which all future generations of Latin pupils were obliged to affect mild amusement. On capturing the Indian (now Pakistani) province of Sindh in 1843, Sir Charles Napier reported his triumph back to London with the single word "Peccavi", meaning "I have sinned". OK, so no one will be rushing off to Boots for a ribcage repair kit, but that's a shade cuter than "mission accomplished". (By the way, should any US special forces on the verge of capturing Ossie BL be reading this, "oneravim" is the Latin for "I have been laden".) And it's not Napier's sole contribution to British culture, because the old boy has also given his name to a restaurant that, as the mark over to the right indicates, did not sin in the minutest detail during a lunch of such superlative quality, and at such dementedly small cost, that credulity was stretched until it squealed for mercy.
The Sir Charles Napier - review in full>>
The Independent on Sunday, 15 February
Terry Durack visits Terroir, London WC2 On any given day, I read a dozen different columnists across three newspapers, loads of web pages, a bit of a novel and the clues to a cryptic crossword. What I don't expect is to then go out for dinner and be handed a wine list that knocks all the above into the shade for originality, wit, poetry and authority. The list at Terroirs, a heaving, three-month-old woody, split-level wine bar tucked away off the Strand, is so deliciously written they should sell copies of it at the door so you could take it home and read it at your leisure, for pleasure.
Terroir - review in full>>
The Observer, 15 February
Jay Rayner visits Boundary, London EC2 I've always harboured the suspicion, obviously fuelled by envy and spite, that the experience Terence Conran offered at his restaurants was meant as a slender echo of life as lived by a wealthy man like Terence Conran. In the wealthy man's life service is always spot on. In his restaurants service too often was at best by the numbers, and at worst by the numbers as practised by the innumerate. In the wealthy man's life the food matched that offered on the menu for expectations were always met. In his restaurants there seemed too often to be a mismatch. His restaurants felt to me like an A-level art student's sketch of a grand master: never more than an approximation of the real thing. Not long ago he sold his interest in the vast mid-market chain that carried his name - Quaglino's, Pont de La Tour, Butler's Wharf Chop House and so on - to his management team. Now in his 70s, and with a fortune measured in the intensity of hand-rubbing by investment bankers, retirement beckoned. Or at least it would have done to anyone other than Terence Conran. He's back, this time in London's Spitalfields, with Boundary; not so much a restaurant as a whole city block. When it is finished there will be a boutique hotel, three restaurants, a shop and a few other things beside. With the economy shrinking one can only stand back and admire.
Boundary - review in full>>
By Janet Harmer
E-mail your comments to Janet Harmer here.
Looking for a new job? Find your next restaurant job here with Caterersearch.com jobs