European

Core: More than essential

Core: More than essential

For someone carrying the burden of expectation as being ranked one of the very best restaurants in the country, Clare Smyth cuts a remarkably relaxed figure. Indeed, as we descended the stairs to Core (her first restaurant since parting ways with Gordon Ramsey), Clare was positively beaming, as she greeted us with a friendly wave from the glass-fronted kitchen. The moment captures all that Core is about: this is a relaxed venue that is confident in the knowledge that it will deliver an exceptional experience.

Hide: Overrated

Hide: Overrated

Reputation and hype combined often breed excess expectation. At Hide, take a highly talented chef, an alleged £20m investment, a wine joint venture with nearby Hedonism and anticipation levels can quickly become stratospheric. Gain a Michelin star within a year of opening and you’re in a whole different galaxy. Reviewers need to be sceptical by nature, but not since Sexy Fish have I been so underwhelmed by a London venue.

Scully: Ottolenghi 2.0

Scully: Ottolenghi 2.0

Beyond a handful of restaurants, several books, a regular Guardian column and the now-guaranteed presence of zaatar in every self-respecting middle-class larder, Yotam Ottlolenghi has spawned a generation of professional chefs. Ramael Scully is one of these, now plying his trade under a restaurant in his own surname. If his mentor became famed for successfully combining genuinely eclectic ingredients from across the Middle East, then Scully goes one step further. Scully is a celebration of joyful and inventive cooking…

Wild Honey: Sweet remains the honey

Wild Honey: Sweet remains the honey

The doors of Wild Honey have been open for 11 years during which time I have been a regular visitor. A recent lunchtime return visit to the venue reminded me just how good this place is and why it continues to pull in the crowds. Put simply, what Wild Honey does is offer impressively good comfort food in a lovely venue, albeit at Mayfair prices.

Pied à Terre: Not quite the complete package

Pied à Terre: Not quite the complete package

Restaurants with Michelin stars know what they’re doing, right? Especially those that have held at least one since 1993. You would assume so. We, however, encountered one of our least promising starts to a restaurant visit at Pied à Terre. Fortunately, things improved from there. Overall, the experience was positively memorable, if more so for the ambience than the food…

The Greenhouse: More stars on the horizon?

The Greenhouse: More stars on the horizon?

Esteemed London eatery The Greenhouse has retained two Michelin stars since 2004 – no mean feat. It now has a new chef, and with this, the ambition to add a third star to its collection. Based on a recent weeknight visit, it may well get there before not too long…

Plateau: Elevation, Canary Wharf-style

Amidst its jungle of skyscrapers, Canary Wharf has many dining options, but few high-end ones. Plateau is therefore a welcome relief, even if the formula is a familiar one. This is perhaps unsurprising given it is part of the D&D restaurant group. Even if the food pleased and service could not be faulted, it still did not take away from the fact that places sorely lacks atmosphere, or even a sense of joyfulness

Ginger Bistro: Great expectations (December 2017)

“Voted best restaurant in Northern Ireland” runs the caption on Ginger Bistro’s website. Similarly, when we mentioned in passing to the receptionist at our hotel that we would be dining there, we were greeted with a response along the lines of ‘wow, how did you get a table?!’ Inevitably, therefore, expectations ran high for our visit. Sadly, they were disappointed...

Mere: A top experience (November 2017)

A recent trip to Mere impressed highly. The three members of our party, who dined there midweek, are all sceptics by nature and try as we did to identify shortcomings, we struggled. From beginning to end, the experience is about understated excellence with high attention to detail.

Brumus: Great venue; pity about the food (May 2017)

The Haymarket Hotel (part of the Firmdale Group) has a lovely vibe to it. Post a relatively recent refurbishment, it feels distinctly cool. There is a boldness to the place in terms of its bright colours, quirky décor and statement modern art adorning the walls. So far, so good. Logically enough, therefore, you would expect the hotel’s restaurant also to be pretty decent. Three of us visited on a recent weekday evening and came away generally underwhelmed. In summary, it was lot of money spent on a mostly forgettable culinary experience

Pollen Street Social: No signs of standards slipping (January 2017)

Barely a month goes by without, it seems, an announcement concerning the expansion of Jason Atherton’s restaurant empire. Despite the proliferation of his restaurants across London, he is still intimately involved with his flagship venue and a recent visit here reinforced why Mr. Atherton is continuing to enjoy almost unbridled success

Fenchurch: View + food = winning formula (March 2016)

Tall buildings seem all the rage in London these days and, if you have an iconic landmark, then why not put a restaurant in there too? Too often, however, the complaint can be levelled at such venues that customers just end up paying for the view or the ‘experience’ and the food becomes an after-thought.