O’Loughlin was previously restaurant critic for The Guardian and before that at freesheet the Metro, and has won numerous plaudits and awards for her writing style and no-punches-pulled reviews. She has also picked up a number of Guild of Food Writers awards and been named Critic of the Year at the British Press Awards.
She is one of the last genuinely anonymous restaurant reviewers in the country, with her identity kept a secret from the majority of people in the restaurant industry. It is this anonymity that many believe gives O’Loughlin the edge on the more well-known newspaper critics and leads to a more representative restaurant review.
“I’m hugely excited about joining The Sunday Times – it’s where I first started reading about restaurants I could then only dream of visiting,” says O’Loughlin. “And I’m absolutely awestruck at the idea of following in AA Gill’s footsteps, even though my shoes are more likely to be Topshop than hand-made.”
The move follows months of rotating reviewers for the paper’s weekly Table Talk column, with contributors having included George Reynolds, Lisa Markwell, David Baddiel and even Ed Balls. There had been speculation that Camilla Long, another Sunday Times journalist, might be taking up the slot permanently.
“I have long been a fan of Marina’s reviews. She has a unique style and sense of fun. She will be a bright star in The Sunday Times’s galaxy of talent,” says Martin Ivens, editor of The Sunday Times.
O’Loughlin’s most memorable reviews include her acerbic take down of Bilson Eleven in Glasgow “where presentation is given outlandish prominence” and her description of the Nova development as being full of “spreadsheet-designed outlets”. More recently she praised Oktopus in Liverpool for being “enormous fun” and Pascere in Brighton for its “no-messing brilliance”.
She also wrote the foreword to Stephen Harris’ new cook book The Sportsman, and has described his pub in Seasalter as being one of her favourite places to eat in the country.