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What’s on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

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What’s on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews
Written by:

The Times, 22 May
Tony Turnbull says while Nuno Mendes’ new restaurant Viajante, London E2, is hailed the face of dining for a new generation, he simply doesn’t know whether the Portuguese chef will be the next big thing

First off, and delivered with all the reverence of a priest proffering the blessed sacraments, is a crostini of gordal olives, almonds and romesco sauce. Two small bites with the crunch of the nuts, the umami whack of the olives and a gentle zing from the peppers, sip of wine. Mmmmm. Nothing too theatrical, an intelligent combination of flavours and textures, and we start to relax. A small martini glass filled with what could have been a badly mixed Brandy Alexander turns out to be layered soya custard, smoked aubergine consommé and aubergine caviar wafer. It slips down better than any soya custard and aubergine consommé combo has the right to, and is followed by a bite-sized cube of spicy confit of chicken sandwiched between a coconut wafer and Mendes’s trademark crispy chicken skin. Again, it’s a combination that reads more weirdly than it tastes – the skin providing texture more than flavour.
Viajante – review in full >>

The Independent, 22 May
Disjointed service and over-intellectualised food is undermining Viajante’s ambition to become a world-class player, concludes the Independent

The hit-and-miss nature of this and other dishes left us feeling that experimentation had won out over common sense. How else to explain the actively nasty combination of jellied aubergine consommé with panna-cotta-like soy milk? Or the tapioca-like onion sauce, frogspawn-ish in texture, spooned over roasted celeriac? Or a chocolate bonbon, intensely flavoured with mushroom, which conjured up both sorts of truffle in one disorientating bite? As Helen said, “It’s like a first date – he’s trying too hard.” This is a restaurant that clearly aims to be world-class, Mendes’ passion isn’t in doubt, and his ambition to establish Viajante as a beacon in an area which badly needs visitor attractions is admirable. But his mission is compromised by disjointed service and over-intellectualised food. (Rating: food 3/5; ambience 2/5; service 2/5)
Viajante – review in full >>

The Daily Telegraph, 24 May
Zoe Williams loves the Canton Arms in Stockwell, London SW8, giving the gastropub nine out of ten stars

I hate blaspheming – it’s so Carrie Bradshaw – but all I can say about B’s pork tonnato (£7) is oh my God. A dish more commonly made with veal, this was thinly sliced, very yielding loin of pork, with a creamy, finely whizzed tuna mayonnaise dressing, some anchovies and some wonderful, lively watercress – a whole forkful of interest on every corner of the plate. B was mopping up the tonnato with his finger, though, now I mention it, he does that everywhere we go. I need to stop thinking of it as a mark of quality, rather, bad manners. I had a rabbit stew (£10). It flaked off the bone exquisitely, the meat was refined but full of depth, the soffritto foundations (onions, carrots, celery) were so neatly chopped it looked as if they’d unearthed some miniature celery: I loved it. (Rating 9/10)
Canton Arms – review in full >>

The Guardian, 22 May
Matthew Norman reviews one of his local stalwarts, Kathmandu Inn in London W12, saying if your local curry house is even half as good as this, then you’re laughing

Without the Nepalese specialities, this would simply be an outstanding local tandoori, albeit one that resolutely avoids all the decorative clichés. It looks, in fact, like the antithesis of the stereotypical curry house. White, bright and blessedly uncluttered, its aroma an unusual but seductive amalgam of spices and cleaning unguents, it appears to follow the hygiene regimen of a quarantine ward. The fake marble floor is polished until you could literally eat your dinner off it. Naive paintings of Himalayan village life keep Ganesh and the gang company on the walls, while the service from various chaps (only one of whom alarmingly resembles the younger Dickie Bird) is exceedingly sweet.
Kathmandu Inn – review in full >>

The Observer, 23 May
Jay Rayner discovers a hidden gem of a restaurant in the Milestone in Sheffield, located in a city not otherwise known for its fine dining

But then I was probably always going to love a place which serves, as a canapé, a shard of its own cured bacon cooked to a crisp, with a dollop of tapenade and a curl of roasted pepper. They do love their pigs at the Milestone, so much so that a month or two back they ran an entirely pork-based menu. Given my recently expressed opinion that there are few dishes which cannot be improved by the application of a little light pig, they were bound to win my affections. As they did with a starter of seared scallop, with a disc of long-braised pig’s head and strands of squid, the whole flavoured with the latter’s ink. This reads as robust, and flavourwise it was – the porkiness and the fishiness playing a neat game of tag. On the plate it was anything but, the ingredients presented as a miniature in the middle of an arctic expanse of white porcelain. (Meal for two, with wine and service, £50-80)
Milestone – review in full >>

The Sunday Times, 23 May
AA Gill is underwhelmed by the FrenchTable in Surbiton, Surrey, which he says perfectly caters for the suburban clientele

In truth, none of these things wings you off to Arles, the Dordogne or Provence. None of it makes you yearn for a beret or a poodle. It is an international collection of dishes that might come from the recipe section of The Lady; safe and commodious, with an elegantly raised pinkie. Ideal for these customers. But a teensy bit dull, if you’re a blase, overstimulated epicurean from the bijoux stews of bohemia. It was all made well enough, but after a bit the pea soup, anointed with goats’ cheese, tasted like the warm cud of a llama with a lung infection. The rack of lamb was tough, apparently butchered with teeth, but had a good flavour. The chorizo risotto was a savoury Spanish rice pudding that mugged the fish it came with. Puddings were best. A well-made lemon tart, a nice praline cake and a chocolate and hazelnut strudel, a sort of snooty Topic. (Rating: food 3/5; atmosphere 3/5)
French Table – review in full >>

By Kerstin Kühn

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