The Daily Telegraph, 20 September
Jasper Gerard visits The Modern Pantry, London EC1
The well-heeled were not quite feeding their servants to the eels, but Quo Vadis did have the hedonistic feel of Pompeii enjoying itself while a certain volcano blew. Every table was full, the smiles of contended diners burnished in the gentle light: not bad for a Monday night. Jay Jopling, agent to Damien Hirst, was recounting how many millions this or that dead shark fetched earlier in the day at auction; a familiar actor gazed at his boyfriend; and was that a Premiership footballer with his latest bottled blonde? Meanwhile, boiling lava was erupting from Lehman Brothers, leaving a city - the City - devastated. How we diners from Quo Vadis will look back on that decadent evening: "Everything seemed all right, then." So pity Anna Hansen. The New Zealander is one of London's best-regarded female chefs and has spent the past four years struggling to open her first solo venture, The Modern Pantry. She finally managed it on Tuesday, the day London wallets turned to stone. It wasn't exactly packed.
The Independent, 20 September
John Walsh visits Restaurant Tristan, Horsham, West Sussex
Does everybody in the restaurant business think they deserve a Michelin star? The Tristan of this new eaterie is Tristan Mason, who used to cook at the Hare in Lambourn and picked up a star for his labours. He moved to the Orrery in London, which had a Michelin star when he joined but lost it on his watch, whatever that may mean. No sooner had he put his name over the door of what used to be Stan's, in Horsham's dinky, narrow East Street, than he was telling local papers: "I want to get my star and I want my three AA rosettes. I want to make it one of the best restaurants in England." Well, I dare say you do, Tris, but in what sense is it "your" star and "your" rosettes? Do you hear actors demanding, "I want to get my Oscar and my Baftas"? Do you hear me saying, "It's about time I had my Nobel and several Pulitzers"? I don't think so. Not out loud, anyway.
Restaurant Tristan - review in full >>
The Observer, 21 September
Jay Rayner visits Market, London NW1
A conversation with my companion, upon reading the menu at Market in Camden Town. ‘Well, I know what I'm going to have.' I shake my head: ‘You're not having that.' He looks at me. ‘I haven't told you what I want yet.' With a world-weary sigh, I say: ‘You want the pig cheek, trotter and apple pie and you can't have it.' His bottom lip trembles, making his greying stubble shudder appealingly. It is, I reassure him, exactly what I would choose, too, what my congested heart would holler for, but this column has been overrun with the extremities of the pig for the past month and it has to stop: pig trotter galette at the Giaconda, and a big heap of the things at Gourmet San the week after. Last week, at the Ginger Fox, it was pig's head.
Market - review in full >>
The Sunday Times, 21 September
AA Gill visits Andaman, St James's Hotel & Club, London SW1
It's gastro guidebook season. They come every year, between gull's eggs and oysters, as welcome and as useful as a McDonald's burp, stoking up their sorry controversies and manufactured little shocks to garner some publicity. This usually means trashing a chef off the telly. And it reminds us that a restaurant guide's job is not to sell restaurants, but to sell restaurant guidebooks. The two main London offerings, Zagat and Harden's, are only of any use for finding phone numbers. Harden's is particularly pointless, with its pox of inverted commas, words plucked from "discerning" readers' "considered" reviews.
Andaman - review in full >>
Jan Moir visits St Pancras Grand, London NW1
Initial impressions? Not bad! St Pancras Grand is housed in a large room with a gilt-edged ceiling and a confident sense of its own importance. Golden lights suffuse the well-spaced tables while comfortable banquettes, smart napery and the presence on the menu of English lobster and potted salmon almost evoke the halcyon days of gracious rail travel. I say almost. Inside the muffling restaurant on the upper concourse, there is no proper view of the soaring splendour of St Pancras station, which is one of the joys of going to St Pancras station in the first place. Big mistake. Big shame.
St Pancras Grand- review in full >>
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