John Lanchester says although Matt Gillan is a serious talent, the concept of the Pass, near Horsham in Sussex, is bizarre
Here, we ate 16 courses between two of us and felt in complete balance at the end. Gillan keeps a firm grip on his food's richness. He gets enormous amounts of flavour out of mundane ingredients such as Jerusalem artichoke, which he makes thrillingly earthy with the addition of sautéed mushrooms and cubes of sherry vinegar jelly; braised leg of chicken is served in a spicy, crumbed crust with a distinct subcontinental flavour, and comes with sprouts and prune purée. The technique and imagination involved in making these very different ingredients act in harmony is really impressive. I like the menus' use of non-luxury ingredients: lamb belly and pork belly, parsley root, pumpkin (in a sweet but also savoury panna cotta), burnt leeks. The leeks came with a bed - or perhaps a "soil" - of black sesame, with anchovy tempura: it was like a delicious, edible version of ash. There are lovely touches all through the meal: a skewer of crackling with the pork, a salsa verde generously ladled with puntarelle to complement loin and leg of rabbit, with a clever, thin film of onion jelly on top.
Price: Lunch from £25 for three courses, dinner from £60 for six courses, wine flights from £40.
The Pass review in full >>
John Walsh has a great meal at 10 Greek Street and doubts that the inhabitants of the other, more famous Number 10 have eaten better dinners than him
If the first courses tended to the fishy (trout, sardines, octopus), the mains were big on game and gutsy flavours. House speciality is a sensational rack of Brecon lamb with parsnips and broccoli (£40 for two) served as a mountain of coral-pink cutlets. Angie's sea bream was a tad underdone - when did we all agree that it's OK for fish to be pink at the bone? - but she loved the accompanying mix of cooked (artichokes) and salad (fennel and olive) vegetables. My haunch of venison was a thing of beauty, four hefty tranches of deer perfectly cooked, lividly purple in the middle. Truffle mash was pureed to silkenness - and a lump of cooked quince (uh-oh) was sensibly confined to the side of the dish. Puddings were admirable: chocolate pot with cardamom made a sophisticated (if slightly pointless) couple, energised by vanilla cream and blood orange, while an 'Espresso brûlée' - light coffee on top, darker coffee below - worked a treat.
Rating: Food ****; Ambience **; Service ****
Price: About £85 for two, with wine
10 Greek Street review in full >>
Giles Coren has a brilliant and affordable meal at Dabbous, London W1, where he predicts chef proprietor Ollie Dabbous will be stuffed with Michelin stars like a Périgord goose
But everything I ate was dull diddly dull dull dull compared with the roast goose, a fat, rectilinear hyphen of a golden goose chunk, skin on, fat melty, soft flesh: eye-rolling, hair-tearing depth of flavour and crackle and chew. It wasn't my dish, it was Tony's (you know Tony, my editor, tall chap in the sharp suit who reviews here sometimes, too; damned Hedone with faint praise a few months back, a lone unenthusiastic voice that is turning out now to have been ahead of his time), so I didn't get to try the "sweet clover kuzu" it came with, or the quince poached in wine and honey - but I imagine they tasted like breakfast cooked by angels, just back from a shopping trip to Goblin Market. I had "Bbq Ibérico pork", which wasn't, of course. But done in some cunning hot water bath fashion like the goose (I'm guessing, I know nothing) and torched and battered and spark-plugged into tasting of fire. Normally sous-vide upsets me, blands me out, makes me hanker for flame, but the meat here survives the technique triumphantly, still has texture and grain and flavour.
Price: £147 for ten dishes, plus wine and coffee
Dabbous review in full >>
The Sunday Times
AA Gill doesn't have a very good meal at Hix Belgravia at the Belgraves, A Thompson Hotel, London SW1, adding the restaurant isn't Mark Hix's finest offering
The Blonde had a troika of fish in a bag. At the last minute, the gurnard was replaced by an understudy, red mullet. She said this was like opening a present and finding three socks. There isn't much fish on the menu, although the kitchen has obviously bought a job lot of prawns, and it boasts that they don't use endangered fish. Well, I shan't point out that nothing's more endangered than dead. The only other one on the menu is halibut. Atlantic halibut is endangered. Indeed, it's red-listed. This could have been Pacific halibut, but, if it was, they should have said so, because it's a different species. Or it might have been that quite rare farmed halibut, in which case they should also have said so, because a lot of environmentalists don't like farmed fish. Personally, I couldn't care. They could sell mermaid steaks. But if you put your conscience on the menu and give an address for the eggs (Clarence Court), you need to be precise and honest, otherwise the whole thing's a nonsense. Actually, the whole thing is a nonsense. I had the burger, which was made with rib steak, and came with or without. With or without what, I asked. With or without a bun, said the waiter. Well, why not serve it with a bun and let me choose whether or not to eat it? He made a little moue. It had a good flavour, but was drier than a nun's noonoo. Onion rings, made with gluten-free flour, were better.
Hix Belgravia review in full >>
Emma Sturgess says Marco's At The Cube in Birmingham suffers from an identity crisis that poor service and a confused menu only add to
Perhaps that's why they've put pea shoots on everything, including the cheese, an almost-kind-of local collection including Oxford Isis that, even served far too cold, is beltingly strong. Sherry trifle Wally Ladd is named in tribute to an old colleague but the waitress tells me it's the name of the sherry. In any case, the booze is indistinguishable amid too much sponge and neatly piped cream topping. It's not the blowsy, billowing stuff of trifle dreams, but the sugared pistachio crumb scattered on top is one for a bowl, a spoon and a locked door. If the black napkin wasn't quite a bad omen, it is certainly a recurring theme, a signal - like some of the food - that attention is not being paid. Napkins, used to steady plates and pots, kept coming to the table already mucky. Much of the crockery was similarly smeared or besmirched. There are gaping holes in the way drinks are sold - missing beer prices, no soft drinks list at all - and gaps, too, in service. It's not what a destination restaurant in a confident foodie city should be. Despite the views, there's a limit to how many times guests can be persuaded to look the other way.
Price: A meal for two with wine and service costs about £100.
Marco's review in full >>
London Evening Standard
David Sexton says Ceviche in Soho is a great addition to London dining in that it allows you to try a distinctive cuisine in authentic form without having to cross the world
From the ceviche bar, Don Ceviche (£6.75) is rough chunks of sea bass marinated (cold-cooked) in lime juice and Amarillo chilli "tiger's milk", served with more limo chilli and red onions, as fresh as can be (unlike the slightly sickening ceviche I've had previously in a Gaucho). Barranco I Love You (£6.50) is the sea bass treated in the Japanese-influenced tiradito style, sliced thin like sashimi and served in an even more citrussy marinade without the onions. In both, the taste of the fish seems overpowered by the pepper and lime, for anyone with a taste for the ultimate delicacy that is good sashimi. There are good reasons why sashimi has conquered the world while ceviche stayed home. From the "anticuchos", or grilled skewers, steak (£8) was great stuff, excellent rump deeply flavoured with a slow burning panca chilli marinade, served with some potato and a flavoursome rocoto pepper sauce: barbie heaven. Corazón (£6.25), beef heart, served in a similar style, quite rare, with corn and an Amarillo chilli sauce, is a huge Peruvian favourite but the elastic texture of this pure muscle is an acquired taste.
Price: £100 for two
Ceviche review in full >>
Published by: The Caterer