Michelin star chefs have been quaking in their boots since Observer critic Jay Rayner slated Christian Le Squer’s restaurant Le Cinq in his column. As reviews go, he didn’t pull any punches, describing the three Michelin-starred French venue as “bleak and terrible,” saying the food was “the stuff of therapy.” Acid tongued criticisms are his calling card; he once described Jason Atherton’s City Social as “all the very worst of the 1980’s revisited.”
But surely he must like the offerings of some tops chefs??
We’ve trawled through Jay’s Michelin star chefs reviews, looking for venues that he rated positively. We came up with a list of restaurants that are so good, Jay Rayner didn’t have anything terrible to say about them.
The Peat Inn by Geoffrey Smeddle
ResDiary was founded in Scotland and there’s nothing we love more than hearing about local Michelin star chefs. Which is why we were chuffed to see Jay Rayner had reviewed Geoffrey Smeddle’s The Peat Inn in Fife.
So, what did Mr Rayner have to say?
“God but it’s civilised. It’s a room in which life feels good and un-rushed.” From our experience, that says it all: The Peat Inn is the epitome of Scottish escapism with gorgeous decor and stunning scenery. Jay loved the food too of course, describing it as “exceptionally witty cookery” and at one point laughing at his plate, “or with it” at a “glorious piece of darkly glazed veal.”
It’s not all deep fried Mars bars and haggis on pizza up in Scotland and we’re delighted to see Jay Rayner championing delicious Scottish food.
The Ninth by Jun Tanaka
Jun Tanaka’s restaurant on Charlotte Street is often described as the “epitome of London style”, creating a foodie oasis in the middle of Fitzrovia. One of London’s top Michelin star chefs, Tanaka previously worked at La Gavroche and under Marco Pierre White, so he knows his stuff.
But what did Jay say?
He loved it of course. Describing Tanaka as “sodden with both technique and talent” he praised both the atmosphere and the food. He almost had us salivating when talking of the dishes he ate; “a sizeable ravioli of salt cod with a liquid egg yolk at its heart….pasta as silky as a Terry Thomas cravat” – yum!
If it’s good enough for Jay Rayner, it’s good enough for us. Anyone fancy lunch?
L'Enclume by Simon Rogan
Simon Rogan’s famous L’Enclume is situated in the heart of the rolling Cumbrian hills. Rogan is one of the UK’s top Michelin star chefs and L’Enclume is the type of restaurant that needs a deep pocket to visit.
But did Jay Rayner like it?
He most certainly did. After boasting about the chef-owner sweetly moaning that he needed to visit, Jay got down to the serious business of praising L’Enclume. He talks of “chasing the last drops” of toasted puffin barley around his plate and raves about a “crumbly biscuit of aged cheddar with a dollop of broccoli puree…..it was gone just as we recognised how intensely delicious it was.”
There’s nothing a real foodie loves more than a great cheese; this Rogan guy must know what he’s doing!
The Honours by Martin Wishart
Martin Wishart’s The Honours is a Scottish institution; a classic Scottish/French restaurant that rarely puts a foot wrong. (Not an easy feat on those old Edinburgh cobbles!)
Did Jay Rayner put the boot in though?
He certainly didn’t. Jay started his meal in a froth over a delicious “crab cappuccino” that he described as a “soup to get lost in.” He ended his meal with a declaration of his deep love for the Michelin star chef’s desserts saying “How can you not love a place that changes its souffle like the rest of us change our pants?” His mains and a more-ish spinach side dish didn’t go down too badly either.
Salt by Paul Foster
A new addition to the Michelin Guide in 2018, Paul Foster’s Salt mixes new techniques with traditional cooking. One ResDiary reviewer said that “SALT and the team are awesome” and we’re not here to disagree with them.
But did Jay Rayner?
Definitely not. Calling it “terrific”, he raves over the cod he had for his main, and despite initial disappointment over the lack of pastry in the desserts section, is quickly won over; “A scoop of a dark chocolate ganache is joined by another of banana toffee, like the killer layer in a banoffee pie.” Nothing gets us going quite like a banoffee pie so we’ll be using that booking widget pretty soon!
Tomos Parry at Brat
And did it set Jay alight?
Sure did. He delighted in the simplicity of Tomos’s cooking,almost salivating over the slow-cooked turbot. He describes it as “a soft, lightly sticky skin that seems to melt on the tongue, and pearly flesh” – wow. No complaints about dessert here either, with the choices of lemon tart and baked cheesecake suiting Jay Rayner down to the ground.
NB: After comment from the man himself, we’d like to say that only 20% of Mr Rayner’s reviews are negative and he’s not always acid-tongued. Sometimes he’s very nice, if the food is very nice. (See above for delicious examples.)