Bloomberg, 21 March
Richard Vines visits Little Chef, Popham Services, Micheldever, Winchester, Hampshire
Little Chef carries a large burden of expectation after Heston Blumenthal — the creator of snail porridge — sprinkled a little of his space dust over the menu for the benefit of British diners and Channel 4 television. The cameras rolled last November when celebrities, friends of Blumenthal and a bunch of us food critics piled into the branch of the roadside eatery at Popham, west of London. Photographers snapped, spit-roast chicken crackled and corks popped as we all celebrated the rebirth of a British institution. Or so we thought. The subsequent TV series, "Big Chef Takes On Little Chef," told a slightly different story, with the chef battling to have his revamped menu and new look rolled out across the chain's 175 outlets and Chief Executive Ian Pegler rejecting any kind of expansion until he'd had time to review the numbers. More than three months on, he's still looking at them.
Little Chef - review in full >>
Evening Standard, 25 March
Fay Maschler visits The Salisbury Tavern, London SW6
An email arrived from the chef. He signed off: "Hoping to see you. I await you with big hugs and kisses, love you loads, Adrian Jones." I didn't resist. Would you? I know Jones's cooking from Chapter Two in Blackheath and a singular little restaurant called Jak's in a basement in Lower Sloane Street. He has apparently worked for Nico Ladenis, Pierre Koffman, Rick Stein, Franco Taruschio, Bruno Loubet, Gary Rhodes, Shaun Hill and even Jean-Christophe Novelli. His is the sort of CV that makes you think that unless Jones is about to get his freedom pass, he hasn't stayed long enough anywhere. I don't care. I liked his food on both occasions that I tried it and, anyway, he loves me.
The Salisbury Tavern - review in full >>
Metro, 24 March
Metro visits Fino, London W1
So the vultures are having a good old circle over the corpses of the celebrity chefs. And some will no doubt think it's about time the likes of Ramsay and Worrall Thomson got their comeuppance. But hold on a minute, reports of their demise seem to be greatly exaggerated. Sure, things aren't looking too sunny for Big Sweary who, in recent months, has garnered column inches over his late-filed accounts and is now less involved with new outposts in Paris, Los Angeles and Prague. But face it: this is a man who probably never needs to lift a finger again as long as he lives; all he appears to be doing is a spot of light recession-proofing.
Time Out, 26 March
Guy Dimond visits The Brill, London NW1
It must have been Colonel Mustard, in the dining room, with the rope. We know because we saw him there next to the crime scene, dining in his tweeds, whiskers and wry smile, as three successive waitresses dropped their orders on the floor. First: the clatter of cutlery right next to us. Twenty minutes later: a jug of water splashed right across the corridor. And, just as we getting ready to leave, someone's dinner hit the floor. We never caught him at it, so maybe the real reason was that the staff were new, and the floor very shiny; and no matter, as everyone present seemed to take these clumsy mishaps in their stride. The warm smile never waned from the face of our charming Romanian waitress, and the diners - broadsheet-reading types visiting the Big Smoke, mostly- certainly didn't flinch. Perhaps it was the caff-like interior paired with the stiff upper lip cooking that ensured that everyone would Keep Calm and Carry On.
The Brill - review in full >>
By Janet Harmer
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