Fera at Claridge's is just ‘the right side of pretentious', says critic

27 May 2014 by
Fera at Claridge's is just ‘the right side of pretentious', says critic

The Independent
Tracey Macleod asks if Rogan's Fera at Claridge's succeeds in serving "hedgerow-foraged food to hedge-fund managers", and finds it just "the right side of pretentious"

"There's no single break-out dish, no meat fruit or edible candlesticks. Just wave after wave of interesting, singular and often wonderful food. The flight of amuse-bouches which introduces the 10-course tasting menu is led by a conjuring trick of a dish, petal-garlanded puréed peas on a savoury pea wafer which vanishes on the tongue like a cloud. A silky umami-rich purée of Winslade cheese and potatoes holding a dice of duck heart and leek unfurls waves of complex flavour. Confited rabbit is fried into a crisp, tangled fritter and served with lovage emulsion; probably the star dish of the night, or rather, the star mouthful. Most of the dishes stay on the right side of pretentious. But when a chef tells us that the seawater cream which accompanies a raw mackerel canape is made with seawater delivered directly from Cornwall, it all starts to feel a bit Last Days of Ancient Rome."
Food 4/5; ambience 3/5; service 5/5
Price: Three-course lunch £45; three-course à la carte £85; tasting menu, 10-course £95, or 16-course £125

The Sunday Telegraph
Fiona Duncan enjoys the stylish refurbishment of the Old Parsonage hotel in Oxford, although finds the bedrooms lack individuality

"The Old Parsonage has one of the most successful ground floor public areas of any small hotel. Through a pretty courtyard with large umbrellas for summer dining, and the original front door believed to date from 1660, you reach the reception hall, with original stone hearth and crackling fire. Then comes the bar and raised restaurant, lined by owner Jeremy Mogford's eclectic collection of English portraits. It's still a great room in which to spend time, but sadly the Russian red walls of old have given way to modish but drab dark grey and the bohemian feel has suffered. The addition of first floor library/sitting room is hugely welcome. After a major refurbishment, the hotel now has 35 entirely redecorated bedrooms with new bathrooms, including five brand new top floor rooms. They are slick and stylish and beautifully equipped, but all very similar and lack the personality of the ground floor."
Rating: 7/10 (location 8/10, style 7/10, service 8/10, rooms 8/10, food and drink 8/10, value 7/10)
Price: from £195

The London Evening Standard
Fay Maschler says the dishes her party tries are for the most part excellent, but ultimately Alain Ducasse has created a soulless blueprint of branded gastronomy at Rivea at the Bulgari hotel

"Red mullet, prepared it says en escabèche, with crispy skin, is flattered by confit tomatoes, red onion spears, olives and capers. Warm octopus and potato salad are two shades of soft. Pea soup poured around Tuscan pecorino ravioli is subtle and delectable. The least pleasing of chosen first courses is socca, the peppery crêpe made from chickpea flour typical of Nice, wrapped in a cone around an approximation of salade Niçoise. This pancake is cold and flabby, although it can be ordered crisp (as panisse) from the Little Bites section."
Rating: 3/5
Price: Lunch menu £35. A la carte, a meal for two with wine, about £170 including 12.5 per cent service.

The Guardian
Marina O'Loughlin wonders if Ollie Dabbous' second, nostalgic offering Barnyard might be playing a joke on the capital, but calls it "a true original" regardless

Rating: food 6/10; atmosphere Ee-I-ee-I-oh; value for money 8/10
Price: about £20 a head for three courses, plus drinks and service

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