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Critics unimpressed by Sharrow Bay, Lime Wood and Heston Blumenthal's Hind's Head

11 January 2010 by
Critics unimpressed by Sharrow Bay, Lime Wood and Heston Blumenthal's Hind's Head

- Sharrow Bay in Cumbria - receives a hammering from food critic Jasper Gerard in Saturday's Daily Telegraph.

Despite commanding one of the finest views - across Ullswater - of any hotel restaurant in England, and serving a decent, sensibly-priced lunch, he says the problem is the frightful décor and the funereal ambience it creates.

"If Hyacinth Bucket was an interior designer, this would be her show home," says Gerard, assuring his readers that he is in no hurry to return.

A newer property on the country house scene - Lime Wood in Lyndhurst, Hampshire - also leaves Lisa Markwell of the Independent on Sunday feeling disappointed. The décor is definitely not the problem here, in fact, she describes the hotel as being "an elegant, cream-stone Regency house with chic landscaping" which has been "modishly designed".

Having recognised the bags of potential about the place, she feels let down that the £150 lunch for four is a hit-and-miss affair, with little though being given to the experience of the customer. As well as forgotten ingredients and ill-matched pairings of food, she is bugged by inappropriate "muzak" competing with a live pianist.

The Observer's Jay Rayner provides the most enthusiastic restaurant review of the weekend after visiting the unassuming Made for Bob, a part deli, part restaurant situated in a smart redevelopment of Cirencester's old Corn Hall.

Run by a former chef from Bibendum in London called Bob Parkinson, the eaterie serves up a host of tasty offerings, including a classic French fish soup. "Most importantly it tastes of all its many constituent parts, as though the entirety of a fishmongers' slab has been cooked down, then blitzed with enough pungent aromatics - fennel, wine, orange peel - to humble a shoal of gurnard," says Rayner.

Finally Sunday Times critic AA Gill is disappointed that the Hind's Head - Heston Blumenthal's pub in Bray, Berkshire, which he has been looking forward to visiting for a long time - does not live what he expects from a chef he deeply admires.
He finds the interior to be deeply old-fashioned and the food, despite an enticing sounding menu with the likes of potted shrimp, roasts and treacle tart, to be badly executed.

"If you only ever eat in home counties pubs, this is probably fine," says Gill. "If you eat anywhere else, it's not."

For this review in full and more, see What's on the menu? To book a table, see Caterer Eats Out. Visit Guide Girl for the latest gossip from the fine dining world.

Von Essen to showcase three top chefs at Harvey Nichols >>

Lime Wood hotel - in the limelight >>

Blumenthal recruits former Michelin-starred chef to head up Hind's Head >>

By Janet Harmer

E-mail your comments to Janet Harmer here.

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