The refurbishment of Kettner's in Soho is more like the "invasion of the bodysnatchers" than a facelift, while the food leaves a lot to be desired, according to Metro food critic Marina O'Loughlin.
"The scuffed seediness that was a major part of its appeal (where have the murals gone?) has been bleached, buffed and Farrow-And-Balled to within an inch of its life," she writes. "It's pristinely beautiful: pale and wintry, with chilly marble-topped tables and white bentwood chairs creating a Narnia tea-party effect."
But the food was less memorable, including the "worst of all possible risottos, a damp pudding of vaguely savoury stodge topped with a couple of Styrofoam scallops".
Bloomberg food critic Richard Vines was suitably impressed with Corrigan's Mayfair, although he stresses that the Irish chef hasn't he reinvented the culinary wheel.
"It's a fine restaurant, not a spectacular one," he writes. "What it does offer is honest food, realistic prices and a friendly welcome. That's not a bad formula for survival in a chilly economic climate."
Fay Maschler, the Evening Standard restaurant critic, reveals that operations director of The Commander, Michael Parker, has observed that gastropubs grew out of the last recession.
"We are left to infer that an establishment complete with flower shop, organic butcher and fishmonger and a function room upstairs that can be used as a crèche or ballet school is a natural riposte to this current downturn," she adds.
By Janet Harmer
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