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30 July 2014

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Review of the reviews: July and August 2013

(menu)

Oblix_2013_-_OblixImage4.jpgSummer has seen notable restaurants open not just in central London, but also in the capital’s neighbourhoods and further afield. From three very different offerings in the shape of Oblix, Shake Shack and Picture, through wine and nibbles in East Dulwich’s Toasted, to Manchester’s latest grand launch, The French – London’s critics chow down and deliver the verdict…

Oblix, London Bridge (pictured, right)

They said: 'Its main attraction was how high up it was; that felt like its only attraction… [To start] I had seared beef with a lime, chilli, garlic and ginger dressing, in which I couldn't taste the beef at all. For my main course I had tiger prawn with rosemary and olive oil, and what arrived was something much larger. Bigger is not always better, unless you taste with your wallet... The puddings turned out to be the best bit: chocolate peanut bar was prettily presented as a long, Shard-esque bar, with a scoop of pecan ice cream of forehead-slapping deliciousness.'
Zoe Williams, The Telegraph

We said: 'Oblix creates an immediate frisson as mesmerised diners survey the capital, laid out below like a three-dimensional Google Earth map… Starters include a knockout assembly of iceberg lettuce, tangy blue cheese and shards of pancetta, while veal chop with gremolata and rib-eye steak are both of superlative quality. For pudding, a wondrous chocolate-brownie sundae invokes yet more ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’.'

Read the full Square Meal review.

Picture, Fitzrovia

They said: 'Set up by three defectors from the Arbutus/Wild Honey group, Picture is the restaurant equivalent of BBC Four – upmarket but quirky, with crossover appeal to a wider audience. The room is long, colourless and spartan… but if the ambience is unforgiving, the staff are warm and helpful. As at Arbutus, the food is just a bit posher than you'd expect from the menu descriptions, or the prices. There are rather too many cheffy flourishes – foamed sauces, fish skin crisped or crumbled, microherbs a go-go. But the bread is free, the wine list offers a great selection, and there's a tempting bar area.'
Tracey MacLeod, The Independent

We said: 'The Arbutus ethos is alive and well here, with the emphasis firmly on value, bright flavours and humble cuts – think juicy lamb-breast chops with harissa and cucumber, tender rabbit shoulder with mushroom ravioli, or veggie ideas such as pea salad with goats’ curd – plus everything on the 20-bin wine list is available by the glass.'

Read the full Square Meal review.

shake shack 2013 - atmosphere_beer-cheers_Shake-Shack-2013.jpgShake Shack, Covent Garden (pictured, left)

They said: 'Shake Shack has been thought through, [but] you run the gauntlet getting back to your seat through the throng with your food… My bacon cheeseburger comes in a soft, sweet bun and its bacon is crisp, as opposed to cremated. The patty tastes of not a lot when you try a piece of it without toppings or bun. There’s fun to be had with the shakes, floats and ‘Concretes’ – think bourgeois McFlurry. But purely in terms of burger quality, many of our home-grown outposts are better – and for nearly the same money, these offer sit-down-order-and-bring-it-to-me-please service.'
Joe Warwick, Metro

We said: 'Native sourcing and ingredients from London’s artisan suppliers play their part in recreating the transatlantic repertoire – think layered burgers with soft buns and lashings of sauce, plus a host of other crowd-pleasing favourites partnered by crinkle-cut Yukon fries slathered in nacho-style cheese sauce.'

Read the full Square Meal review.

the french at the midland hotel 2013 - The-French-Restaurant-at-the-Midland_Simon-Rogan_2013_resized.jpg

The French by Simon Rogan, Manchester (pictured, right)

They said: ‘I’ve been goggling at column after column of praise for The French: I just don't get it… We have spongey boiled sole onto which is poured an onion broth so powerful and jammy, it gums the lips together… There are the inevitable “jokes”; I hazard these are more fun to dream up than they are to eat… A dish called ‘late spring offerings’ is a gorgeous, supremely fresh riot of living flavours – petals, shoots, roots, alliums – and beautiful to look at… But apart from those prepubescent veg and magnificent bread, I don't love any of it.’
Marina O’Loughlin, The Guardian

We said: 'Fans of L’Enclume and Roganic will be comfortable with excellent, characterful six- or 10-course tasting menus that demonstrate a complete understanding of British vegetables, herbs and flowers, as well as having some fun with puns: a tartare of beef with ‘coal’ oil and kohlrabi – geddit?'

Read the full Square Meal review.

Toasted, East Dulwich

They said: 'Toasted is the latest in the Terroirs tradition, transforming a once quiet venue into a buzzing neighbourhood bistro... In a typical dish, fresh English peas are dressed with garlic butter and topped with raw egg yolk drizzled with lemon oil, then garnished with toasted almond. The result is dramatically colourful and savoury... We tried a few wines by the glass, and can recommend the very affordable ones on tap from the stainless steel dispensing tanks – £3 for a great southern Rhône blend is a steal.'
Guy Dimond, Time Out

We said: 'A more coherent version of its predecessor, Green & Blue, Toasted’s menu is a short list of imaginative seasonal combinations: think juicy white crabmeat and broccoli enlivened by citrusy sorrel; or tender pork fillet accompanied by homemade morcilla and astringent gooseberries… The by-the-glass wine selection is bolstered by astonishingly good-value measures of ‘natural’ vintages.'

Read the full Square Meal review.

This feature was published in August 2013.

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