Review of the reviews… what the critics say about Gordon Ramsay's Narrow pub and others

02 May 2007
Review of the reviews… what the critics say about Gordon Ramsay's Narrow pub and others" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">The Guardian](, 28 April
Matthew Norman stems his phobia of country house hotel dining at the Arundell Arms in Lifton, Devon

Freebie cups of scintillating asparagus soup had come and gone before we got stuck into a meal that relied on that simplest yet least well observed of all culinary formulae: local ingredients of the highest quality cooked with precision and technical excellence. Pan-fried Cornish scallops with wild garlic were "bursting with flavour", and my crab ravioli in a champagne sauce was elevated by unbelievably flavoursome pea shoots that constituted, according to an unwontedly lyrical wife, "the taste of spring". (Rating 9/10 à la carte £42 for three courses)

[The Times](, 28 April
Giles Coren finds the food at the Pink Geranium in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, isn't quite up to scratch

Now, the menu. I have to say it was one of those places and situations when one longs for the old days of "prices only for the chaps", so as to protect the ladies from the horrific realities of the cost of modern dining. But I needn't have worried. When she read that the côte de boeuf was for two and cost £25, Rachel naturally assumed that that was the price for both people, and Granny just assumed they were joking altogether, since she bought her house for less than that. At the news that this was the price per person, making a total of 50 East Anglian pounds for a steak between two, both ladies tutted and shook their heads with all the wisdom and sadness of their combined 110 years. And then ordered it. (rating, 6.33/10 meal for three without drinks, £120)

[The Observer](, 29 April
Jay Rayner is distinctly underwhelmed by Suka, in London's Sanderson hotel

If a menu needs explaining, rewrite it until it doesn't. Anyway, having eaten there, I can sum it up myself: ‘We are now going to extort as much money from you in as short a period as possible for as lacklustre a meal as we can get away with.'

I got the measure of Suka when I just managed to hear [the waitress] announce that tonight she was recommending the Singapore black pepper mussels. Why? They are on the menu every night. Was it just that usually the kitchen buggered them up and now they had got them right?

Or was it that, at £15, they were one of the most expensive starters? (Meal for two, including wine and service, £175)

[The Sunday Telegraph](, 29 April
The crab dish at Alexanders in Limpsfield, Surrey, didn't quite live up to its fancy appearance. And why pickle the girolles? asks Zoe Williams

B had the tian of Cornish crab, potato and avocado, with Thai asparagus, crab cakes and chilli aïoli. The plate arrived all fancy, with the obligatory squirts and splodges of the true culinary creative, and the tian itself was delicate and creamy and soft and pastel-shaded. The crab cakes were tired-tasting, which was disappointing. And, again, weird - it's like someone with enough Italian to translate Dante who doesn't know the word for frothy coffee. I had the chicken and foie gras terrine with cornichons, pickled girolles, baby leeks and deep-fried quail's egg. The terrine was terribly good the overall plate was much cared-about, but I have to ask, who would pickle a girolle? (Rating 5/10 two courses, £33, three courses £40)

[The Independent on Sunday](, 29 April
The whole dining experience at Haiku in London W1 proves all rather confusing and exhausting for Terry Durack

For a decisive finish to a mixed-bag of a meal, I order what I think is a dish of fresh mango, coconut and lychees, but it turns out to be mango, coconut and lychee ice-creams (£6) instead, with only the coconut being good enough to make amends.The bill is the most efficient thing of the night, coming the instant I ask for it, complete with a £10 charge for the tuna tataki I neither ordered nor ate. I finish feeling discombobulated, confused and rather exhausted by the whole experience. To me, Haiku is too many ideas, too many dishes, and too many kitchens, run by too junior a staff and thrown into too awkward a space over too many floors. In addition, someone made a complete mess of the ordering and should leave immediately. That would be me, then. (Rating 11/20 meal for two including wine and service, about £140)

[Bloomberg](, 27 April
Richard Vines feels Haiku needs to try harder, and turn down the volume

A new electronic device called the Mosquito emits an annoying high-pitched whine only audible to young people. Stores use it to discourage gangs from congregating. Some restaurants have been employing a similar trick for years, only this one has the opposite effect. They play loud music that young diners fail to notice or sometimes even enjoy. Adults, by contrast, are intensely annoyed and vow never to return. Haiku, a pan-Asian eatery in London, is a suitable place to experience this sonic cleansing. In an empty room last week, the staff happily worked to electronic beats. I turned to the menu as a distraction, and that certainly did the trick for a while. Haiku, the London incarnation of a Cape Town restaurant, combines the cuisines of Japan, China, Thailand and India. So what does Haiku bring to the table that's new? Indian food is the main thing. But the butter chicken and the lamb rogan josh I tried over two visits were run-of-the-mill for a city that boasts some of the best sub continental restaurants in the world. Chicken cheese kebab was better, though hardly outstanding. Haiku may have done well in Cape Town. It's going to have to try harder here.

[Time Out, 25 April
Guy Dimond checks out Gordon Ramsay's Narrow pub

Childhood breaks are full of spontaneity. Enid Blyton's Famous Five books exemplify the joys of free time and lack of timetabling, where the children set off for adventures like Five Go To Limehouse In Search of Delicacies. But the more grown-up you become, the more life conspires against spontaneity. If you want to eat a midweek lunch at The Narrow in Limehouse, the waiting list is currently around two weeks. As for dinner - they might be able to fit you in at 6pm, or 10pm, but at the time of going to press had nothing else in the coming weeks. Therein lies the flaw of this riverside gastropub. Restaurateur Gordon Ramsay has put his name to it, thereby guaranteeing bums on seats - and a long wait for a table, though your chances of actually seeing him cook there are a slim as seeing me chasing pirates down the Thames. Is The Narrow worth the wait? For some, it might be. There are outdoor tables for drinkers. There's a posh pub bit which really is a pub, serving real ales, plus a huge range of well-selected bottled beers, an extensive wine list, plus nitrokeg lagers for people with no self-esteem. Next door is the dining room. Customer walk-ins are not accepted (I tried). You must book, via the centralised, Gordon Ramsay phone line and must reconfirm your reservation the day before. Back to the tuck. It's classic, wonderful, retro-modern British food of the sort we more often prefer to remember fondly than actually eat. But most of the dishes were exemplary. Herring roes on toast might look like fat slugs but they were squishy and soft like savoury, slithery marshmallows: yum. Many details were perfect: pert young vegetables, delicate pastry. Main courses were over-salted: the salt beef (okay we'll concede that one), but also the gravy with my faggot.

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