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What's on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

06 April 2009 by
What's on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

The Guardian, 4 April
Matthew Norman visits Bob Bob Ricard, London W1

It is a truth unilaterally acknowledged, by me, that the only businesses certain to thrive in hard times are confectioners and the like. This isn't strictly true, of course - bailiffs, pawn brokers and soup kitchens will have their merriment, too - but as manufacturing goes, the smart advice is to invest in firms that make sweet things. What we crave when scared, bemused and broke is a cheap fix of sugary solace. I wonder if the chaps behind Bob Bob Ricard (crazy name, crazier place) were guided by this theory, because it's quite a confection itself. This is a very sweet restaurant, styled after a drink-induced Orient Express hallucination (Bob Bob Absinthe), in which the male waiters wear candyfloss-pink jackets so lurid they should get danger money. (The female versions are blue, and if that doesn't smash any remnants of crude gender stereotyping, what will?)
Bob Bob Ricard - review in full >>

The Independent, 4 April
Tracey Macleod visits Osteria Dell'Angolo, London SW1

Scene one. Exterior: a deserted street in Westminster. Government offices loom over a row of anonymous flats and office blocks. On the corner, the only sign of life in this depopulated landscape, an Italian restaurant, its windows shrouded with net curtains. Cut to: Interior. We could be in a business hotel in any part of the Eurozone. The dining room is smart but characterless, with a peach and amber décor reminiscent of the 1980s. The crowd is monied and international. At a table, a scruffier couple is bickering. "Why are we here, exactly?" asks the man, who seems remarkably peevish, considering he is sipping champagne that someone else is paying for. "Because it's the only bloody restaurant in London that has opened all month", replies the oddly alluring woman opposite him. We notice that she is unsuccessfully trying to hide a small notepad under the table. The man sighs, and orders another drink.

The Observer, 5 April
Jay Rayner visits the Royal Well Tavern, Cheltenham
Welcome to "Statement of the Bloody Obvious" corner, this week's pearl of wisdom being: cheap things are cheap for a reason. It is this acute insight which, even in these shrinking times, generally makes me glaze over when presented with the low-cost fixed-price menu in a restaurant. Yes, I know. The banks are down to their last billions, pick ‘n' mix at Woolworths is now merely a nostalgia item to be fetishised on a late-night Channel Five show, and Gordon Brown is working hard on his schoolboy faux innocent "It wasn't me wot attached the fireworks to the kitten" look. We are meant to celebrate cheapness, revel in bargains. But. BUT! Too often I look at one of those three-course jobs and the best I can hope for is that I find one mildly appealing. Because, as we know, cheap things are cheap for a reason.
Royal Well Tavern - review in full >>

The Sunday Times, 5 April
Lucas Hollweg visits The Pass, South Lodge Hotel, near Horsham, West Sussex
I was sitting next to a bloke who writes for a restaurant magazine at dinner the other week. We were having one of those cheery little credit-crunch chats that have moved into the conversational gap left by house prices. The world of hospitality is notoriously vulnerable to economic gloom and everyone except KFC is suffering. It's not that people have stopped eating out - the right to dine is now too firmly embedded in the culture. They're just eating out less and spending less when they do. What's surprising is the number of high-end places that are still opening. It's a brave restaurateur who launches in a recession, and there must be countless new ventures that no longer seem quite such a good idea as when they were originally planned. Anyway, after dinner, I asked my restaurant-savvy companion if there was anywhere I really ought to try. He thought for a moment. "There's a new place in Sussex," he said. "It's called The Pass."
The Pass - review in full >>

By Janet Harmer

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