Critic impressed to see Wiltons back to its best

05 January 2011 by
Critic impressed to see Wiltons back to its best

The Sunday Times‘ restaurant critic, Michael Winner is charmed by the restaurant that he first dined at at just five-years-old, Wiltons in London.

"The best meals I've ever eaten were at Wiltons, in St James's, under Jimmy Marks. I first went in 1940, when I was five. It continued to serve staggeringly good, fresh food, simply cooked. Diners ranged from Winston Churchill to Mrs Thatcher, from Albert Finney to me," he recalls.

When Jimmy died, Winner never experienced a good meal there, until now. The kitchen headed up by Andrew Turner, Winner is impressed with what is now coming out of the kitchen.

"Terrific meal; superb company. Good to see Wiltons back on form."

The Observer'sJay Rayner learns that you cannot invest all your dining experience in a single plate of food, as he experiences at the Swan at Southrop, Gloucestershire.

Tempted by the whole vacherin cheese, baked in the oven and served - for two - with roasted garlic and Melba toast, Rayner heads to the Cotswold pub only to find that they have a vacherin.

The Swan offers an extensive menu, with references to Oriental vegetables, teriyaki of salmon, tempura and dishes lifted from Morocco, Italy and France. Rayner finds that some of the dishes, such as lamb knuckle tagine with merguez, chicken and chickpeas, was a well-cooked, but the precision was lacking.

Despite the "lovely and unflustered" service at the old Cotswold pub, Rayner remains unsure if the journey was worth the meal.

Meanwhile, Metro food critic Marina O'Loughlin, wants to start the New Year with a bang, so heads off to Brawn on Columbia Road, London, but isn't convinced the treak across London is worth it.

Brawn is the baby sibling of Terroirs in Charing Cross, with a menu that changes regularly and is backed by the people behind wine importers Les Caves de Pyrène, and O'Louglin describes the whole experience as "earnest".

"Please don't think I'm dismissing this as a bad restaurant: far from it, it's rather lovely, informal, friendly, sussed, full of cool and earnest young foodies. I like it better than Terroirs… If it opened on my doorstep, I'd use it a lot; I certainly wouldn't - and won't - make the great pilgrimage across town. But that would appear to be just me."

By Katherine Alano

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