The Guardian, 9 February
Matthew Norman visits Alberico at Aspinall's, London W1
For keen students of sartorial etiquette, life in the noughties is a mine-field. Just after Christmas, at the PDC world darts event at Alexandra Palace, a friend and I were denied entry to the players' bar for wearing jeans. If you've never been told, by an extra from The Long Good Friday, that you're too ill-dressed to mix with the regency fops of darts, know that it's quite a thing to hear. More recently, meanwhile, another friend joined me for lunch at a casino that has been among the planet's snootiest since the days when its founder John Aspinall - a man fondly remembered for his eccentric zoo-keeping and stated desire for 3.5 billion of the world's population to die - plotted with fellow Bond villain manqué Jimmy Goldsmith to replace Harold Wilson's government with a Francoist military regime.
The Daily Telegraph, 9 February
Mark Palmer visits The Horn of Plenty, Gulworthy, Devon
The manager makes us jump out of our skin. "Good evening," she says, creeping up behind us as we lock the car after some judicious parking on a blowy Thursday evening in darkest Devon countryside. If this were London, I would deck her here and now out of sheer panic and then blame it on the not-safe-to-walk-the-streets Home Secretary. "I didn't mean to scare you," she says, but gives no explanation for greeting us in the car park. Perhaps this is what she always does on a slow night. What soon becomes even more scary is peering though the windows and seeing just how slow a night it is. We're in for one of those hushed pre-dinner drinks in the drawing room when your party and one other tune into each other's conversation with the sort of precision for which the Stasi was famous, while pretending to be thoroughly absorbed in the menu.
The Horn of Plenty - review in full >>
Independent on Sunday, 10 February
Terry Durack visits Dehesa, London W1
What this country needs is a good brunch. We don't dine at 1pm on the dot any more, or work our way through three formal courses. But for some reason brunch is seen as anti-British, destroying tradition with its leisurely style and informal timing, even though the term was coined in this country in 1895 by Hunter's Weekly, calling for "a new meal, served around noon that starts with tea or coffee, marmalade and other breakfast fixtures before moving along to heavier fare". We don't trust brunch, being suspicious of anything that comes with its own lifestyle - but it's coming anyway. One sure sign is the weekend brunch at hot new Spanish-Italian diner Dehesa, just off London's Carnaby Street. It's the second restaurant from Simon Mullins and Sanja Morris of Salt Yard, with the same happy mix of Spanish tapas and Italian charcuterie.
Dehesa - review in full >>
The Observer, 10 February
Jay Rayner visits Grado, Manchester
What is it with Manchester? Why, when it comes to restaurants, is it always so nearly, but not quite? Why does every restaurant I visit fail to deliver? Is it me? Do they hate me so much that they decide to show me such a mediocre time I won't return? Or is it the city? It's a big buzzy place, Manchester, full of interesting-looking people, and there are lots of Mancunians with money - exactly what you need for a thriving restaurant scene. And yet almost every time I eat here, I return home wallowing in disappointment, as though a little bit of me has died.
Grado- The Sunday Telegraph review in full >>
Jan Moir visits Tom's Place, London SW3
Tom Aikens' new ethical chippy opened this week, a rigorously green enterprise which aims to turn our popular national dish of fish and chips into an environmentally responsible experience. My fear is that this means goodbye to over-fished cod, haddock and anything else remotely delicious and hello to pollock, ling, megrim sole, flounder and dull old dab. The reason why these second division specimens are not over-fished is obvious; they don't taste as nice as the other lot. Yet Aikens is right in his determination that we have to stop the wholesale plunder of diminishing white fish stocks in British waters.
Tom's Place - areyoureadytoorder.co.uk review in full >>
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