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24 July 2014

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Over to You: summer 2013

(menu)

story 2013 - TS-17_Story_2013_Photography-by-John-Arandhara-blackwell_RESIZED.jpgYou’ve dined at and dissected newcomers including Oblix, Balthazar and Restaurant Story (pictured, right), dishing the dirt on SquareMeal.co.uk – now find out what others made of newcomers to the London dining scene…

in association with Nespresso

Young chef Tom Sellers (ex-Tom Aikens, ex-Noma) has started his first solo venture, Restaurant Story, as he means to go on – garnering a 10/10 reader score for food, service and atmosphere on his second night, followed by hearty praise for his ‘sublime’, genuinely inventive dishes. Will this be another accomplished chapter in Sellers’ career?

The bar at Fulham’s revamped GOAT is proving as popular as the restaurant. The food elicits cries of ‘yummy…gorgeous…divine!’ while the new look is ‘wonderful’; most applause, however, goes to the ‘funky’ cocktail bar, whose crackbaby shots are ‘very moreish’. Perhaps that’s why locals are hooked...

STK in the ME London Hotel didn’t get off to a flying start, and nor has the hotel’s Cucina Asellina, which has been branded as noisy, patchy and formulaic, with ‘atrocious’ service, a ‘confusing’ menu and ‘1990s’ decor’. Your best bet is ME’s Radio Rooftop Bar, which is a confirmed hit.

Balthazar NY - Balthazar_NY_2013_-_9.jpgReactions to Balthazar (pictured, left), in Covent Garden’s old Theatre Museum, have revealed readers’ appetite for the dramatic since the NYC import launched in February. Food quality may veer from ‘truly terrible’ to ‘lovely’ but everybody agrees that the service is ‘incredible’ and the atmosphere ‘bristling’. All in all, ‘bravo for Balthazar!’

Chef/restaurateur Jason Atherton’s two fantastic new openings have left visitors begging for more. Readers reckon the chef’s Soho hotspot The Social Eating House is ‘lively, sexy and metropolitan’ – ‘too fun and informal for Michelin stars’ but ‘just about perfect’. With his Mayfair bistro Little Social also offering ‘first-class service’, ‘exquisite’ dishes and a ‘buzzing’ vibe, Atherton is rightly the talk of the town.

No.11 Pimlico Road – a replacement for the much-loved Ebury – boasts an ‘impressive new look’, plus great cocktails and a menu that holds its own with both girly groups and posh ‘red-trousered’ locals. ‘A worthwhile crowd-pleaser’ in a good location.

‘An utterly anticlimactic experience’, complains one reader about Bubbledogs, which has disappointed many critics and punters since launching last autumn. A very ‘ordinary’ experience (basically hot dogs and fizz), high prices and few Champagnes by the glass, have left readers wondering whether the long queues are worth it.

Oblix_2013_-_OblixImage4.jpgChef Eric Chavot (ex-The Capital) has made a hugely successful comeback with Brasserie Chavot, his neat addition to the Mayfair scene. ‘Fab flavours’ and ‘exemplary presentation’ at ‘very reasonable prices’ wow; ‘professional staff’ and a ‘lively atmosphere’ complete the package.

The Clove Club has set itself a tough challenge by working to a no-choice five-course menu. Some diners have become instant fans of the ‘stunning’ offering; others have criticised the ‘dour, municipal’ feel of the dining room and the ‘overhyped’ food. However, everyone agrees that chef Isaac McHale’s rib of beef is a real ‘highlight’.

Diners had high hopes for Oblix at The Shard (pictured, right), but ‘disorganised’ service and ‘average’ value for money have given pause for thought – even taking into account the ‘stunning views’. The best bet, suggests one, is to ‘go for music and cocktails in the lounge’, where the live band is ‘truly a highlight’.

Savoy fans have flocked to Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill, which has replaced the River Restaurant. The ‘superbly atmospheric’ dining room still resonates, but ‘unmemorable food’ and ‘inconsistent pricing’ disappoint. The verdict? ‘Stick to The Wolseley or Scott’s’ for now.

Brazilian-Japanese joint Sushinho’s second branch, in Devonshire Square, is ‘a welcome addition’ to the City. Its ‘seamless’ fusion food has won it a dedicated following out east, while the superlative wine list does the trick for thirsty workers. Is it one of your new City staples?

This feature was published in the summer 2013 issue of Square Meal Lifestyle.

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