Röski in Liverpool is hit after hit – if a little excessive – writes Marina O’Loughlin in The Sunday Times
Hit after hit: a fat slab of homemade crumpet, suave with some kind of intensely savoury dripping – perhaps from the Welsh wagyu that turns up later? – topped with hog’s pudding, tamarind-sharp brown sauce (his take on HP) and a frilly fried quail’s egg. The only bum note is its nacreous skull’s-head plate, suggesting Piotrowski may have worshipped at the shrine of Leeds’s Man Behind the Curtain, another joint hell-bent on leaving no bell or whistle unbothered. Smoked haddock tartare comes laced with smoked eel, granny smith apple – gelled, compressed, smoked and generally interfered with – and blobbed with lovage emulsion. To transform something so simple into something this fiendishly complicated: it’s quite the feat.
There are bursts of glorious, lighthearted creativity: the Kentucky-fried Jersey Royal that comes with a tiny scrap of almost-raw Welsh wagyu beef. And the spectacular “Olympic breakfast”: what looks like rubbly granola turns out to be weeny discs of rye crispbread hiding mushroom consommé, strips of deliriously meaty mushrooms and smoky ham, fermented tomato purée and, lurking at the bottom, a confit egg yolk: a Kellogg’s variety pack of culinary fireworks. There is, of course, more – much more – but I’d exhaust all our patience by delivering the blow-by-blow.
And that’s the thing. There’s no need for this excess. An excellent wellington, for instance, the pastry wrapping ripe, ruby pigeon, also cradles a fat lobe of foie gras: an unannounced, potentially unwelcome extra.
Price: £75 per person or £130pp with wine pairing
Henry Harris’ new menu at the Coach in London’s Farringdon is “like greeting a much-missed old friend”, according to Jay Rayner in The Observer
The menu at the Coach is like greeting a much-missed old friend. This is not food that pushes at boundaries; it is very happy keeping to its own agenda. There is now a glass-ceilinged extension and a patio out back which, on a warm day, is filled with middle-aged men eating together. For a particular sort of bloke, Harris’s French classics are like nursery food, a list of things that says everything will be fine.
I have steak tartare which, rather than being compressed into a dense, puckered cylinder, is a loose mound of mustardy loveliness, cut through with capers and cornichon. The toast is thick cut and warm. A skate terrine with a basil and tomato sauce is a plateful designed for an early summer’s day, the block of sweet, mellow white fish breaking apart easily for a ride through the sweet-sour herb dressing.
Price: £90 for a meal for two including drinks and service
“The food started out brilliant and mostly stayed very good, but then there were three or four bum notes towards the end,” says Giles Coren reviewing La Goccia in London’s Covent Garden in The Times
Wood-fired pizzetta with fior di latte, oregano and ’nduja (£8) was fantastically rich and chewy; fried courgette (£5.50) was spot on; the burrata (£7) was out of this world, so much better than the ones they usually fob you off with, so delicate and clean, like a single giant white caviar egg, full of double cream, served on a beautiful silver plate, scattered with chilli flakes and oregano leaves and drizzled with superb olive oil – worth the entry fee alone.
Sage leaves stuffed with anchovies (£5) were simply historic and with a blob of the burrata on top to cool the salt, quite the best thing I have eaten since the last thing I said was the best thing I have ever eaten. (Was that the pickled oysters at Cornerstone? I think it was.) Although a small white plate called “Varieties of beans, mint, olive oil”, served with a wedge of lemon, very nearly stole the show. Which is impressive from a dozen or so boiled long beans of different shades of green.
There was a plate of fennel, lemon and Nocellara olives (£8) that was just gorgeous, so bright and crunchy with rose petals for pinkness and a purple pansy flower on top, but then flaccid agnolotti with lamb and peas (£9.50) and a grilled quail with spiced turmeric (£9) that was just too chewy to enjoy. The oat biscuits with the cheese were horrid and if anyone ever offers you a fruit called nespole (looks like an apricot, tastes like mole vomit), then tell them to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. Even if it’s wood-fired with thyme and honey.
Score: cooking 8/10; service 9/10; location 9/10; overall 8.7/10
Price: £289 for a meal for four plus drinks and service
“Heaven would look and feel a lot like one never-ending overnight stay at Coombeshead Farm in north Cornwall,” says Grace Dent in The Guardian
On the May evening we ate there, dinner, served in an adjoining barn, and no longer communally and B&Bers-only, as it was in the operation’s early days, started with said sourdough with Guernsey butter, a robust, no-holds-barred porky “country” terrine, a skewered lamb kidney with paprika and a plate of faultless green asparagus made devilish with brown butter.
The main event was Waterloo Farm lamb with spring onion and wild garlic, or ramsons, as they call it at Coombeshead. Or weeds, as some readers would probably call it while wondering where the potatoes to go with the lamb were, or the carrots, red cabbage or mint sauce for that matter. But Coombeshead is not for that type of person.
Score: food 9/10; atmosphere 10/10; service 10/10.
Price: £65 for a five-course set meal; £35 for a three-course Sunday lunch; all plus drinks and service.
Michael Deacon reviews the “terrific” Restaurant 22 in Cambridge in The Telegraph
First, a couple of snacks: salmon rillette with gooseberry and kaffir lime, cool and juicy, plus a titchy hot croquette of macaroni cheese. Then some beautiful freshly baked bread: shallot and thyme brioche, as light and flaky as a croissant; then a mini-loaf each of Guinness bread, dark and cakey, served with delicious pre-melted Guinness butter.
The next couple of dishes were the least exciting. A starter of Isle of Wight tomatoes, pecorino sardo (a Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese) and beef fat, then a fish course of wild turbot, pink grapefruit, celeriac and sea herbs. Both fine, but neither scorched themselves on to my memory – unlike the next course: Blythburgh pork, black pudding, wild garlic and onion. I know I’m a pork bore (boar?), but this really was terrific: sumptuously tender, sizzlingly intense.
Score: 4/5. Price: £70 for lunch for two (without alcohol)
The Telegraph’s Kathryn Flett reviewed Salt Pig in Dorking, Surrey this week
Me: Dorset crab cakes and aioli followed by Homemade Pie of The Day (it’s pork), with spinach, mash and red wine sauce. My fancier-man: Pea and mint soup with crostini followed by “the Salt Pig pulled pork burger”, mature cheddar, crispy pancetta and triple-cooked chips. The deep-fried-ness of my little cakes whelmed the crab but they were fine enough; meanwhile, the fancier’s soup, despite being served at the temperature of lava, was (when it cooled) as perfect a molten liquid pea-and-mint combo as I can recall. He won the first course.
But I won the second. My dear little brown pie nestling in spinach and accompanied by a smooth streak of mash was so traditionally gorgeous it not only looked like a 17th-century still life by Pieter Claesz, it tasted baroque, too – pungently porcine in a fist-bumper of a sauce, all ever-so-slightly too robust for lunch but welcome nonetheless, as was our half-bottle of crisp Chilean sauvignon blanc.
Across the table, the fancier was looking a bit wan at the sight of his pulled pork, piled high on its pillowy brioche, slathered with melted cheddar and accessorised by super-fat triple-fried chips with come-hither eyes. If my plate looked like a 17th-century Dutch masterpiece, his was a study of a coronary-in-waiting from the school of Jakob van der Stent. “I can’t finish it,” he mumbled. “It’s too big and… porky.”
Score: 3/5. Price: £85 for lunch for two
The Telegraph’s Sherelle Jacobs revisits Gravetye Manor in West Hoathly, Sussex following the multimillion-pound extension to its dining room, which has “captured the spirit of the garden with aplomb”.
The new restaurant makes a louder statement. It is boldly contemporary: there are lime-green wing chairs that could be used as boomerangs. Tables are spotlit like lead actors in a play… But it’s really all about the views. The glass walls do not so much overlook the garden as pull the outdoors in.
Violet geranium petals and gentle vinegared flecks of baby vegetables encircled a sticky, suncoloured confit egg yolk. It was a mouthful of English summer – crisp, fresh, and torturously brief. My other favourite dish was spider crab in a chive-coagulated custard. It was a fun British take on mad scientist cooking, prickling with herby flavours and free of pretentious sterility.
The restaurant at Gravetye has thus captured the spirit of the garden with aplomb.
Price: From £275 for a double room including breakfast
The Cow Hollow Hotel in Manchester is “a hip city bolt hole” offering a lively and good value stay, says Tom Chesshyre of The Times
Beneath oriental-style ceiling fans and next to a palm tree, guests on velvet bar stools sip complimentary glasses of prosecco (provided 6pm-8pm). Laid-back hip-hop plays. Candles flicker. Welcome to Manchester’s latest cool hotel in the heart of the city’s Northern Quarter. The Cow Hollow Hotel is owned by Muj and Amelia Rana, former Hong Kong bankers in their thirties who bought this textile warehouse three years ago. Since then they have converted it into a design hotel, which opened in January.
The 16 rooms are small, but perfectly formed, with exposed redbrick and Brazilian-slate walls, railway sleeper bedframes and bathrooms with antique brass fittings. They are reached via an industrial-chic galvanised steel staircase. Hypnos mattresses, two litres of free mineral water, Netflix on the TV and Ren products in the bathrooms are provided, as are earplugs because the Northern Quarter can be noisy.
Price: From £100 B&B during the week or £150 B&B at weekends