Welcome to Oliver Thring’s weekly round-up of national critics’ restaurant reviews.
Quo Vadis, Soho
A fine review from Fay Maschler of the ‘streamlined’ Quo Vadis and its new chef, Jeremy Lee. Smoked eel and horseradish sandwich was ‘an ace creation’ and a cocktail of Campari, orange and pomegranate a ‘great combination’. ‘The combination of lovely Jeremy Lee, the hard-working Hart brothers and [front of house manager] “Spitz” is the dream team of which my nights are made.’
Jay Rayner is at The Butley Orford Oysterage in Orford, Suffolk. ‘The beauty lies … in the fish.’ The oysters are ‘big, sweet, meaty things’ and ‘at £1.20 each they are also cheap’. ‘The Butley Orford Oysterage is not pretty. But it is good, and that’s what matters.’
‘It was indulgent, nostalgic and exciting,’ says Zoe Williams at 34. She enjoyed it far more than I did, finding octopus with chorizo ‘perfect’ and a bone-in ribeye ‘delicious and tender’. But ‘this certainly isn’t a budget choice’.
Giles Coren: ‘Poor old 34. It’s just not in a place that I or anyone like me is ever going to be walking past when they happen to be hungry.’ The Delaunay, by contrast, will ‘without question be a massive London institution for years to come’. Agreed on both counts.
The critical caravan to 34 continues with Zoe Williams, whose review is also worth reading for the perceptive comments made by her guest, Caprice Holdings veteran Russell Norman. ‘It may have the steaks,’ she says, ‘but it just doesn’t have the sizzle.’
‘It’s all cool and knowing and designery’ at Roti Chai on Portman Mews South, according to AA Gill. ‘I found the chilli spicing just too hot’ and the place ‘has the feeling of being a prototype for a chain’.
Matthew Norman visits the ‘tiny, unheated’ Old Bakery, Lincoln, finding a ‘remarkably likeable restaurant’. The set lunch is a ‘bargain’: chicken livers with celeriac and horseradish was ‘a gentle, cunning dish’ and a chocolate delice ‘lived up to its name’.
Amol Rajan’s snowball ‘tasted terrifyingly of Nesquick’ at Angela’s. ‘Though the prices are a little discomfiting, everything else about this place suggests that Exeter’s people are unusually well served in their desire for an excellent local restaurant.’
‘There’s plenty to enjoy’ at Alyn Williams at The Westbury, says Marina O’Loughlin. French onion soup comes with crabmeat and paprika and sounds bloody delicious; ‘vegetarians are particularly well served here’ and ‘service is virtually flawless’. ‘However, whether there is anything to tempt you back a second time is questionable.’
Burger & Lobster is ‘an easygoing sort of place,’ says Charmaine Mok. The burger is ‘pretty decent’, but Charmaine would recommend the lobster roll over the other two dishes, as would I.
‘Every neighbourhood should have a café like Browns of Brockley,’ says Katy Salter. ‘The coffee is flawless’ and bagel with haloumi, red pepper, rocket and onion jam is ‘delicious’ and the place has a ‘really warm, community-driven feel about it’.