What the Critics Say – is Kaspar's the restaurant that the Savoy really deserves, wonders Marina O'Loughlin

What the Critics Say – is Kaspar's the restaurant that the Savoy really deserves, wonders Marina O'Loughlin
The Guardian
![Kaspar's Seafood Bar & Grill](http://blogs.catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk/blogs/guide-girl/2013/06/01/Kaspar%27s.jpg)
We're encouraged towards the lobster club ("Madame, you must have it") - £25 for something that looks as though it came from Prêt: scant, cloyingly creamy crustacean, too-sweet relish, shaved avocado and pallid, frozen-tasting frites. The bread is burned at the edges. For 25 quid. Far worse are bloated, Germolene-hued smoked salmon sausages on apple sauerkraut - potentially a good idea, but here reduced to a greyish sludge - and horseradish. The sausages have the consistency of mouldering bath sponge. Puddings? Well, as Shania Twain might say, those overplayed spheres of chocolate that collapse on the application of their sauce do not impress me much. "Eh? Eh? Eh?" our waiter says as he flourishes his jug, trying to goad us into some kind of rapture.
Rating: food 5/10, atmosphere 5/10, value for money 3/10
Price: £150 for meal for two with drinks and service
Evening Standard
[The Five Fields in Chelsea serves dishes that belong to "the Component School of Cooking", where ingredients are not necessarily chosen for their compatibility, according to Fay Maschler](http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/restaurants/the-five-fields--restaurant-review-8635635.html)
Before first courses arrive very good breads and a slightly stodgy triumvirate of canapés are served on the inevitable slate, followed by Japanese ceramic bowls of what we are told is Golden Delicious and sage "tonic". For all of us the tonic fulfils the description of the last thing you want at that point in a meal. "Gimmicky" and "do-goody" are two comments that are bandied about.Main courses chosen — Dover sole, Cornish turbot, Yorkshire lamb and suckling pig — all belong to what we decide to call the Component School of Cooking. Most plates have the main item, a dab of sauce, a spume of foam, a flourish of leaves and a textural rubble of some sort — components, not comprehensible bedfellows. In Lionel Shriver's Big Brother, which I am reading, she writes: "I propose: food is by nature elusive. More concept than substance, food is the idea of satisfaction, far more powerful than satisfaction itself." The theory applies resonantly to Five Fields.
Rating: 3/5
Price: £45 for three courses; tasting menu £65 for eight courses; £115 with wine pairings; wines from £29; service 12.5%.
The Metro
[Tom Sellers's Restaurant Story uses great culinary techniques and visual flair but Andy Lynes says the concept is gimmicky](http://metro.co.uk/2013/05/30/not-quite-a-fairy-tale-ending-for-the-food-at-tom-sellerss-new-eaterie-story-3814468/)
![Restaurant Story](http://blogs.catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk/blogs/guide-girl/2013/05/30/Restaurant%20Story.jpg)
A claim on the restaurant's website that ‘we see food as our story books' translates to the plate as ‘we have worked at Noma and here are some ideas we picked up'. ‘Bread and dripping' is a mini loaf of sourdough, quartered (as at Noma) and comes with a beef fat candle that, when lit, melts and creates the dripping. It's Sellers's version of Redzepi's ‘Bread, butter and fat' dish that features a pork rind and a dip of smoked pork fat. Beetroot, raspberry and horseradish features the same glazed beetroot cylinders that Redzepi pairs with apple discs, here substituted for tiny rings of raspberry and the horseradish snow that has accompanied razor clams at Noma. Despite the number of courses, our meal doesn't turn into War And Peace - at just over two hours, it's more Dan Brown than Tolstoy - and I'm sated but not bilious.
Rating: 3/5
Price: £170 for meal for two with wine, water and service costs
The Metro
[Joe Warwick is confused by the Frenchness of the menu at Italian restaurant Tartufo, at Chelsea hotel No.11 Cadogan Gardens, SW3](http://metro.co.uk/2013/05/30/talent-fails-to-trump-confusion-at-new-italian-restaurant-tartufo-3814472/)
Grilled Scottish scallops with fennel and orange have not met with a enough heat and have a stewed texture, while Kentish courgettes and peas are the overshadowed main ingredients in a queerly lemony pearl barley. The middle courses, a risotto and a light tortelli, both starring spring black truffle, are the highlight - in particular the latter, which bursts in the mouth like a Shanghai soup dumpling. But mains of halibut and lamb are both overwrought in their search for refinement. Three weeks in, the service is sweet but still skittish, mains turning up a course early. It's a disappointing story of Italianate French as opposed to Italian, more truffe than tartufo.
Rating: 2/5
Price: £140 for meal for two with wine, water and service
The Scotsman
[The Left Bank in Glasgow fails to impress, with worryingly variable standards and service that is unfailingly cheery but almost glacially slow](http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/features/restuarant-review-the-left-bank-glasgow-1-2944725)
If Bea was pretty unhappy with the extended wait, she was at least left smiling by her fritters, which came with a commendably punchy green chilli and mint raita. I was less chuffed with my wild mushroom dish. It was fine as far as it went, but when you get "wild mushrooms" on a menu, you expect something interesting - depending on the time of year, ceps, chanterelles or morel mushrooms perhaps - but it was difficult to tell the regulation-size specimens on my plate apart from bog-standard supermarket mushrooms. Nor was the size enough: there were exactly half a dozen mushrooms on my two small discs of not-very-garlicky crostini, all of which disappeared in half a dozen small mouthfuls. Our main courses arrived marginally more quickly than our starters, which was progress of sorts I suppose. I'd plumped for the Goan seafood curry, while Bea chose the chicken chettinad. Bea was very impressed with her chicken chettinad, which turned out to be a chicken breast marinated in fennel seeds, cloves, chillis and lime. The meat was perfectly cooked and the unlikely amalgam of four wildly different, but very strong, flavours made for a remarkably layered and successful dish.
Rating: 5/10
The Independent
[Oblix, Rainer Becker's latest London restaurant venture on the 32nd floor of the Shard at London Bridge, is sure to be a massive hit with diners, says John Walsh](http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/reviews/oblix-level-32-the-shard-london-8636838.html)
Angie's sliced yellow tail tuna came with a sweetie-counter display of red and green peppers, onion, ginger and mustard seeds in a ponzu dressing. "Exquisite," she said, "and very Zuma." New England clam chowder was accompanied by a mini-loaf of olive sourdough, an inspired coupling. The soup's senses-flooding creaminess was flecked with spring onion and celery, the white crabmeat given a whisper of citric subtlety; the bread was very wolf-downable. Into view came the appealing figure of Alessandro Marchesan, Becker's group wine honcho, a charming enthusiast who explained that all Oblix wines are available by the glass (even the really posh ones) and pointed out the restaurant's Wine-Buff Huddle Corner, where serious oenologists can gather around a stone slab and discuss vintages and viscosity. He found us a viognier from the Seresin vineyard in New Zealand, which was heavenly.
Rating: food 4/5, ambience 3/5, service 5/5
Price: £170 for meal for two with wine
Manchester Evening News
[Deanna Delamotta's faith in Manchester's Chinatown dining is largely restored by Little Yang Sing](http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/restaurants-bars/little-yang-sing-restaurant-review-4034598)
I was attracted to the five-star hygiene rating in the window of Little Yang Sing. Having read a particularly graphic story (with pictures) about rats gorging on restaurant waste in Chinatown five years ago, I've tended to avoid the area for dining (see what I mean about grudges?). We rushed down the stairs to be met by a very pleasant waitress who showed us to a nice roomy table. Service was very speedy and attentive and we soon had our chopsticks at the ready (fork for me) to tuck into a dim sum platter (£3 extra per head) made up of curried beef samosa, just the right blend of spice, golden chicken spring roll, much better than your average banquet spring roll, but the steamed pork dumplings were a let-down - tasteless and watery. The seaweed was suitably crispy and moreish. Next up was the piece de resistance as far as pal was concerned - cumin dusted spare ribs. She reckoned these succulent meat feasts melted in the mouth with a delectable dusting of garlic and cumin to render them tasty without overpowering the senses. I thought they were very good.
For our two mains we opted for deep fried fish with sweet and sour sauce and chicken sichuan. The fish was by far the better dish - the tangy sauce was delicious whereas the chicken sichuan was bland and uninteresting.
The Telegraph
[Jason Atherton's Social Eating House, London W1, has everything going for it, says Zoe Williams - so why wasn't she knocked out?](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/restaurants/10071027/Social-Eating-House-London-W1-restaurant-review.html)
![Social Eating House](http://blogs.catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk/blogs/guide-girl/2013/05/26/Social-Eating-House.jpg)
I had octopus carpaccio with orange grenobloise and black olive oil (£10.50), and that was all smashing - fresh, slippery octopus, zingy oranges full of character, the black olives bringing it all together. My main course - a pork chop with beetroot, savory, spring onion and white polenta (£18) - was dreary, though. The vegetables were good, and the polenta was the purée texture rather than a fried block (which I can't stand), but the chop was an inch thick and as dry as - nope, I've spent hours trying to find a simile for the dryness of dry meat, too proteiny for sawdust, too fibrous for sand or wood, and simply too dry to resemble anything but itself. CC ordered curried, baked hake (£19) with cauliflower cheese, but what turned up was hake with broccoli and squid. The curry flavour was nothing like pronounced enough - it seemed to exist mainly for its colouring. The whole thing was freshish but bland.
Rating: 2.5/5
Price: £36.65 for three courses
The Times
[Giles Coren finds a relaxed and youthful canteen with impeccable local and sustainable sourcing credentials and comfy pricing at the Turl Street Kitchen, Oxford](http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/magazine/article3774539.ece)
The broth, I thought, was weedy and underseasoned, but the pair of Sandy Lane faggots (stop sniggering at the back!) were big and ballsy, made on site from the wobbly bits of the whole animals they take delivery of here, and Olivia's sausages were out of this world: smoky and dense and some of the best I can remember eating. She also loved the big chips that came with our insanely sustainable line-caught haddock (my contact at the Sustainable Restaurant Association practically wet her knickers over this place), which had been beautifully battered and deep-fried in the traditional way. Olivia also made short work of a lovely steamed ginger pudding with lemon custard (£5), while her preposterously intelligent father (it's more of an illness, frankly) and theoretically teetotal godfather polished off an unusual little carafe of French malbec.
Rating: 7.33/10 (cooking: 6, for Oxford: 8, sustainability: 8)
Price: £36.65 for three courses
The Sunday Times
[AA Gill says Brasserie Chavot in London W1 has hotel catering written all over it and is all the worse for it](http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Magazine/the_dish/article1265567.ece)
The menu has a base of French bistro dishes, but with the addition of stuff like a waldorf salad that was dull and incorrectly made (otherwise, it would have been duller — waldorf is the most parsimonious of the salads). Soft-shell crabs we quite liked, but were too big, too solidly battered; a crab mayonnaise was well made; ceviche of scallops was barely a course: pale wafers that slumped down your throat like the ghosts of dead fish; lamb chops were unarguably lamb and chops; sea bream was stingy and frail — in fact, all the fish dishes seemed to be designed for women who don't want to eat; a grilled chicken was dry and too tasteless. Puddings were adaptations of traditional dishes — île flottante and a not-great crème brûlée. What made this mediocre food so much worse was the lumpy, forgetful service that was only emollient and oleaginous when it actually got to us, but didn't get to us anything like enough. The gap between courses was like waiting for medical results. The meal stretched on and on until it became torturous, drawing our attention to the deficiencies of the food. The room was two-thirds empty; the customers who were there were silent and bored.
Rating: Atmosphere 1/5, food 2/5
Price: £77.06 for two, without drinks, including 12.5% service
The Observer
[The new owners of Joe Allen's, London WC2, deserve applause for remaining faithful to the winning ways of this old theatrical hangout, according to Jay Rayner](http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/02/joe-allen-london-restaurant-review)
Everything it once did is now done all over town. It used to be the only place for a real Caesar salad. It still does it and, while it's not quite the glory it was in its 80s pomp - not as garlicky or powerful - it could still give others a masterclass. The chopped liver is not quite as good as that at Mishkin's up the road, but the accompanying pickles are far better: crunchy, sharp, a whack about the chops. There are absences. The buffalo wings have gone, as have the ribs. But everything else is there and more. There are chopped salads, crispy squid and serious steaks at reasonable prices. The brioche-bunned burger is still not on the menu, and mounts a serious challenge to many others in town. At the end, the pecan pie is a bash of sweet and soft with crisp pastry. Best of all is a strawberry jelly with roasted-peanut ice cream.
Price: £100 meal for two including wine and service
Yorkshire Evening Post
[The St Ermin's hotel in Westminster, with its rich history as home to covert operations in WWII, is undoubtedly a bit of a secret gem](http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/what-s-on/travel-reviews/travel-review-st-ermin-s-hotel-caxton-street-london-1-5712162)
![St Ermins hotel](http://blogs.catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk/blogs/guide-girl/2013/05/30/St%20Ermins.jpg)
The hotel has 331 rooms and suites all designed to make guests feel at home. There is crisp bed linen, luxurious soft furnishings and inviting bathrooms with indulgent White Company products. Its signature restaurant, The Caxton Grill, serves modern European food but for drinks and light meals, The Caxton Bar and The Caxton Terrace, with views overlooking the courtyard, are relaxing spots. We tried their burgers, a venison pie and a salmon salad in the bar and all were restaurant quality. Breakfast can be an indulgent full-English blowout or a choice from the Continental buffet, all beautifully displayed in the dining room, with swift and friendly service. For those who need to get up and go without the traditionally indulgent hotel breakfast, there is ‘Wake & Take' - a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a muffin, served as a takeaway from the lobby.
Price: Superior Double Rooms from £199
The Guardian
[Sally Shalam is impressed by what owner Lucy Townsend and head chef Alan Haughie have achieved at The Greyhound on the Test in Stockbridge, Hampshire](http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2013/may/31/greyhound-on-the-test-hampshire-hotel-review)
This is posh Hampshire, so I'm not going to argue about a simple, freshly painted double and good linen at £110. I'd like a table for the kettle and conditioner among organic toiletries in a bathroom stocked with thick towels, though, and there is something cheap about a louvre-doored cupboard containing thief-proof hangers. Descending, I spot a hallway honesty bar. It's lively below, wines chalked up, Ringwood beers on draught, and Lucy greeting customers who are obviously already regulars. I wait in a window seat. When C turns up, we move to the dining room, amid lanterns and modern art, jewel-coloured water glasses on our table…Braised cod cheeks with saffron sauce and linguine, and smoked carpaccio of buffalo arrive, well presented and delicious. "Now I'm quite pleased winter's gone on a bit," says C as spatchcock poussin arrives in unctuous gravy with garlic mash, at £13.95, a bargain. I pick a £24 sirloin steak, bang-on medium rare, buttery chateaubriand sauce in a jug, and fat chips, crisp outside and soft in.
Price: doubles from £100 B&B; three-course dinner around £33 per person, excluding drinks
The Times
[Tom Chesshyre finds great value and unpretentiousness at the recently reopened The Angel & Blue Pig in Lymington, Hampshire
Do not expect cutting-edge design in the dozen bedrooms. But do expect stylish comfort with wide beds, purple velvet headboards, sisal matting floors, large flatscreen televisions and digital radios. My room, named after the archangel Ramiel, overlooks the high street. It has a decent-sized bathroom with wood panelling and White Company products. It also comes with a tide chart on one wall and a jolly picture of a female pirate on another…Served in an elegant dining room with pistachio-green walls, the food is hearty, well priced and well presented. Starters include chicken liver parfait with chunky bread and onion marmalade, and crispy crab and chilli cake with a delicious avocado and sweetcorn salsa. Among the mains are seafood linguine, steakburgers with cheddar cheese, and fish and chips in a batter that uses the inn's own signature Blonde Angel ale. But steaks are the speciality. I went for an eight-ounce Black Angus fillet, cooked perfectly medium rare and served with a spot-on peppercorn sauce and crispy greens.
Rating: 8.5/10
Price: B&B doubles from £90; two courses with a steak about £25, without about £18
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