The Guardian , 13 December
Matthew Norman visits Kettners, London W1
According to the blurb on the menu, Agatha Christie was once a regular at Kettners, an ancient Soho joint that has recently reopened in a new guise. If only she were around to write this review, because I can't make head nor tail of it.Whodunit? is the easy bit - Gondola Holdings, owners of the Ask and Pizza Express chains, dunit. Whydunit? is another matter, for The Killing Of Kettners is the most impenetrable catering enigma I have ever encountered. Why would Gondola deny itself punters by recreating a well-loved old-timer as a paradigm of such bewildering ineptitude that it would beggar belief if you chanced upon it in rural Bulgaria, let alone in so ferociously competitive a foodie market as central London?
The Independent, 13 December
Tracey Macleod visits Gourmet Spot, Durham
At what stage did I realise that going to Gourmet Spot was a bad idea? Was it when the taxi left Durham's spectacular city centre to pull up outside the kind of suburban Gothic hotel the Addams Family would stay in if they retrained as travelling salesmen? Was it when we saw the sign cheekily announcing that we'd arrived at "The G-Spot"? Or when we picked our way round to a hidden side entrance (in keeping with its nickname, the G-Spot is elusive) and plunged into a tiny black and red bar area that had the look of a granny flat hastily converted into an Eighties bachelor pad? Or when we hovered in that empty bar for several minutes, watching the flickering image of a fireplace on a flat screen TV, until a flustered young waiter emerged from the kitchen, then proceeded to ignore us?
Gourmet Spot - review in full>>
The Sunday Times, 14 December
AA Gill visits Corrigan's Mayfair, London W1
Corrigan's Mayfair is a new restaurant in the space that was once inhabited by the ferociously foul-tempered Nico Ladenis, a cook from the age of white hats and filo pastry. Chez Nico was one of the first restaurants I ever reviewed: I walked in as he walked out and hailed a cab. I thought this was a bad show for a restaurant that bore his name and charged the weekly minimum wage for dinner. He never forgave me for mentioning it, and berated the gutter standards and palates of critics. Now, of course, you're more likely to find your eponymous chef in the News of the World, or a supermarket ad, than a kitchen.
Corrigan's Mayfair - review in full>> The Observer, 14 December
Jay Rayner visits Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, London W1
To accurately judge a restaurant like Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, you must take a finely sharpened knife and then use it to cut right through the crap. You must ignore the battalions of oleaginous waiters and the depth of the varnish on the dining room's wood panelling, the stiffness of the menu, the pointless stools for the ladies to rest their handbags on, and the general relentless palaver of dining at this level - not unlike having your leg humped by some desperate sex-starved terrier for three hours - to get to the nub of things. Which is to say the food on the plate, yours for £84.38 a head including service.
Hélène Darroze at the Connaught - review in full>> areyoureadytoorder.com
Jan Moir visits Charlie's Dead, London E1
Beef and ale pierogi with a fried duck egg, both sitting in a rich little stew of caramelised onions. Rich, dark and savoury, it is just the kind of thing to kick start a midwinter lunch. The kind when you are going to have a lie down afterwards and get up again in February. What kind of person, I wonder, would cook a winning and yumsome dish like this? So I ask the waitress, on her next bread and water sweep, who the chef is. 'Oh. He's nobody,' she says, with an affable shrug, and continues on her journey. Interesting. Nobody I like.
Charlie's Dead - review in full>>