The weekend papers were full of positive reviews from a variety of different restaurants from one of the most expensive in the land and to another offering great value for the money.
Starting at the pricey end of the market, Jasper Gerard of the Daily Telegraph, was accompanied by Heston Blumenthal on his visit to Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley
As Blumenthal chomps happily on the likes of golden, fried veal sweetbread on tasty Swiss chard and roasted celeriac, Gerard says he has no answer for readers who complain about the price - £318.37 for two at lunch. "Just as motoring correspondents review Rolls-Royces as well as Reliant Robins, so restaurant critics should test drive high-octane, turbo-charged culinary marques as well as old bangers," he explains.
A more down-to-earth eating experience is enjoyed by Tracey MacLeod of the Independent at the newly-opened Ashmolean Dining Room - despite its lofty location on top of the relaunched Ashmolean museum in Oxford. There is an informal, café-like feel about the place, but the confident, friendly service and ambitious menu marks this out as far more than an add-on to the museums' visitor experience.
The assured cooking - which uses Italy as the prevailing influence, with an occasional flavour of the Middle East - has propelled the eaterie to the top end of the market in a city surprisingly short on good restaurants, she says.
Down in Dartmouth, Devon, Giles Coren of The Times raves about the Seahorse, describing it as perfect. Taking the produce, cooking, service, ambience, location and company into consideration, he rates it as the best meal he has had all year.
As well as what he describes as the unbelievable fish, he praises the first-class vegetables, delicious rice pudding, exemplary tiramisu, a couple of brilliant scroppinos (which are a sort of cold posset) and terrific coffee.
Back in London, the Observer's Jay Rayner is mightily impressed by Dock Kitchen, one of the latest pop-up kitchens to make an appearance. It is run by Stevie Parle, a young chef with connections to, and experience at, the River Café. With friendly and lightly chaotic service, very good food dominated by fine ingredients, and unlicensed premises, the experience is enjoyable and does not burn a hole in his expenses.
By Janet Harmer
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