Hard to please: Famed restaurant critic AA Gill’s favourite eateries

The late Sunday Times restauraunt critic was extremely hard to please. Here are some of the restaraunts that won him over 

Thursday 15 December 2016 14:30 GMT
Hedone was awarded a rare double-five-star review for food and atmosphere in The Sunday Times
Hedone was awarded a rare double-five-star review for food and atmosphere in The Sunday Times


A lawyer-turned-chef, Mikael Jonsson opened Hedone in July 2011, and instantly established the restaurant on the London dining scene with outstanding reviews from critics including AA Gill - giving out a rarely dished out double five-star review for food and atmosphere in The Sunday Times. Most recently, Hedone was awarded a Michelin star, the quickest ever award to a chef with no professional training. The food at Hedone stands out thanks to Jonsson’s extensive knowledge and sourcing of the finest ingredients and the “sophisticated techniques” he uses to create refined and unique flavour combinations.


Will Lander (the man behind The Quality Chop House) and Daniel Morgenthau (previously of 10 Greek Street) opened this acclaimed all-day restaurant on Great Portland Street. The chef heading up the kitchen is Merlin Labron-Johnson, who has spent the last six years in Michelin-starred exile in Switzerland, France and Belgium, including working as a sous-chef at In De Wulf (one of the world's most noted destination restaurants).

The menu showcases his style – food is light rather than heavy, but still full of robust flavours – which AA Gill described as the “best of modern eating, with the nonsense, pretension and snobbery left out”. He awarded it a double five-star review.


Anglo is a Modern British fine-dining spot from head chef Mark Jarvis (formerly at The Bingham, Blueprint Cafe, Zuma, Texture and Le Manoir) and Jack Cashmore (from Sat Baines and In De Wulf) billed as accessible modern British fine dining, served amongst relaxed minimal interiors. The menu updates weekly, keeping local seasonal produce at its core.

A A Gill recounts that the meal delivered “the most accomplished thing a kitchen can achieve: classic flavours made harmonious, but also beguiling and ingénue fresh” and gave it five stars for food.


Occupying an urban space in London's Fitzrovia, Dabbous has stunned critics and diners since it opened in 2012. Behind the sheet metal door, acclaimed chef Ollie Dabbous creates light, modern European (small) dishes that are both sophisticated and delicate, in stark contrast with the restaurant's industrial decor.

“The food is kept so close to the soil, the hedgerow, the pool and the tide, but is still as romantic as a fairy ring.... Each of us were properly, lovingly, unforgettably gobsmacked,” A A Gill gushed.


A rustic institution much loved by its local regulars, Riva is renowned for simple, well-prepared Italian cooking. Presided over by its charismatic owner Andrea Riva it specialises in Northern Italian dishes of the Lombardy region. Polenta and risotto are a speciality. Riva is famed for its use of truffles and has become a serious foodie haunt and favourite of chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay as well as critics such as Fay Maschler and A A Gill.

“The place I go to most often is Riva, an Italian restaurant in Barnes,” he wrote. “I’ve been eating there twice a week for 15 years and I haven’t seen a menu for 12 years — the food just arrives.”

The Wolseley

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day and nowhere appreciates better that fact than at The Wolseley restaurant in London's Piccadilly, where A A Gill dined regularly (he preferred a central table) and even went so far as to pen a book, Breakfast at The Wolseley. Founded by celebrated restaurateurs and founders of some of London's most iconic dining destinations – Jeremy King and Chris Corbin – A A Gill described The Wolseley as a cross between the “traditional robustness of the Parisian brasserie and the gloriously grand but cosy comfort of the Viennese café”.

According to an interview in London's Evening Standard, the restaurant critic and writer also enjoyed talks hosted at The Frontline Club, and loved The Chelsea Arts Club.

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