Ham&High’s formidable restaurant critic Beverley Bernstein dies

Beverley Bernstein, the Ham&High’s former restaurant critic who has died aged 72, had three pet hates - microwaved food, overcrowded plates and fussy menus.

Many a complacent restaurateur fell foul of her tireless drive to see Hampstead and Highgate residents served up quality, seasonal food, which took her to dozens of eateries across north London from 1990 until 2000.

In one memorable review which caused quite a stir on the newspaper’s letter’s page, Mrs Bernstein wrote a damning critique of the then Hampstead institution Cosmo, in Finchley Road, which served up a menu of “Middle European” cuisine.

As her husband, David Bernstein, recalls: “It as a hangout for people who came to this country at the time, and it was much loved.

“I shared the meal with her and it was atrocious. She wrote a damning review of it which caused such a flurry of letters they filled the letters pages for three weeks.

“The editor was pleased, but the restaurant closed around a year later – it had had its day.”

But not all eateries found themselves on the wrong side of her culinary criticism and she counted the still popular French restaurant Les Associes in Park Road, Crouch End, among her favourites.

Most Read

Yet such was the rancour her reviews could provoke that for her decade at the Ham&High she was only ever photographed from the back – a mystery diner who could seal an eatery’s success or failure by a flick of the pen.

Beverley Bernstein was born Beverly Joan Liden in New York in 1939.

She moved with her husband David to London in 1964 and eventually settled in Wedderburn Road, Hampstead.

Mrs Bernstein worked as senior registrar at the Architectural Association School and later worked in town planning in the Seychelles, Malta and the Channel Islands, where she specialised in building community facilities such as hospitals.

She died of bladder cancer on December 22, and is survived by her husband David.

Her family plan a celebration of her life in February and are hoping to introduce a prize in her name for architecture students.