The Guardian, 2 February
Matthew Norman visits Marco, Chelsea Football Club, London SW6
‘It's just… it's just… it's just…" stuttered my friend, taking in the scene with a wearily affronted eye. "Well, it's just wrong, isn't it?" He clearly had no plans to expand on this moral judgment, nor did he need to. When two middle-aged nostalgists for the old terrace culture meet in a swanky restaurant on the site of a football club, and one elliptically expresses his distaste at the plushness and glitz, the other instinctively understands the Ron Managerial regret: the lack of filth, the exceedingly long odds on contracting food poisoning… isn't it, mmm, all a bit cashmere jumpers-for-goalposts? The general sanitising, in other words, of an experience that, for all the inherent indignities involved - or, rather, perhaps because of them - we affect so sorely to miss.
The Daily Telegraph, 2 February
Mark Palmer visits Foxtrot Oscar, London SW3
It's all too easy to bang on about the good old days, so here goes. Foxtrot Oscar was a much-loved louche Chelsea hang-out where nicotine-stained walls, cramped round tables, Sloaney-pony waitresses saving up for their gap year and unspectacular nursery food made a lot of people very happy for more than 25 years. You could take along your dog, your mistress, your grandmother or your gynaecologist and be at home with each of them. Or you could eat alone without feeling lonely. Wines by the glass came so big that you got at least three units' worth while kidding yourself that the health police's stingy guidelines were being met.
Foxtrot Oscar - review in full >>
Independent on Sunday, 3 February
Terry Durack visits L'Absinthe, London NW1
All the clichés are present and correct: French onion soup, cassoulet, blackboard menu, flickering candles, belle époque posters, dark bistro chairs and ebullient French host. I love clichés, because clichés don't become clichés unless they're doing something right in the first place. And there is a lot that is right with the familiar, time-honoured characteristics of the neighbourhood French bistro. The first thing you see and hear at L'Absinthe is the tall, jeans-clad proprietor, Jean-Christophe Slowik, booming out a welcome as if he has seen you a million times before.
Absinthe - review in full >>
The Sunday Times, 3 February
AA Gill visits The Square, London W1
Catering is one of the industries that is particularly susceptible to the vagaries of bankers' greed, particularly at the top end of the red-letter dining experience. The makers of canapés should also be very frightened, in small mouthfuls. But recession will be good for pizza and exotic sandwich-makers, and it'll be good for pubs that do Lancashire hotpot, and good for the importers of woks and the writers of cookbooks. The Square is a room that you might think was dancing on the edge of a bleak future.
The Square - The Sunday Telegraph review in full >>
Jan Moir visits Dehesa, London W1
Times are tough out there. A late winter is howling in. The world economy is crashing. Conservative MPs are supposed to feed and entertain their family with only six figure sums scrambled from the public purse. And somewhere in central London a restaurant is charging £2.50 for a slice of bread. 'Be fair, it is toasted,' says S, taking half of the slice of sourdough for himself. He then paws at a plate of jamon Iberico de Bellota (£13), trying to find a slice thicker or wider than the kind of tissue sample you would find flattened under scientific glass.
Dehesa - areyoureadytoorder.co.uk review in full >>
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