Review of the reviews… what the critics say about Mocotó and others

21 March 2007
Review of the reviews… what the critics say about Mocotó and others" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">The Independent](, 17 March
Tracey MacLeod bemoans the lack of Latin American va-va-voom at Mocotó in Knightsbridge, London's first modern Brazilian restaurant

Any homesick expats would probably get more satisfaction from the snacks served in the bar than from the polite cuisine of the downstairs restaurant. Certainly, the puddings owe more to prevailing food fashion than to Brazilian tradition, judging by the presence of the inescapable chocolate fondant on the menu. My friend's pudim, billed as "crème caramel the Brazilian way", proved that the Brazilian way is pretty much like the Spanish and French way. Mocotó's owner was one of the original partners in Momo, an earlier attempt to reinvent an unfashionable cuisine for the fashionable set. One thing he hasn't been able to import, unfortunately, is warmth. (Dinner, about £65 a head. Rating 3/5)

[The Scotsman](, 17 March
Stornoway's Manor restaurant is one of several good reasons to visit the Isle of Lewis, reckons Emma Cowling

The boys both opted for the sautéed sea scallops with pesto lemon beurre blanc and crispy Parma ham julienne with sweet potato crisp for starter. Cooked to perfection Kevin said, the subtle flavours were wonderfully complemented by the pesto lemon beurre blanc, while the Parma ham and potatoes provided a welcome crunchiness to the dish. One of the great treats about dining in somewhere like Stornoway is the immediacy of what is on your plate. Our waiter told us these were the first scallops of the new year, brought into the harbour by local fishermen that morning. (Dinner for three, £65.97, excluding drinks)

[The Guardian](, 17 March
Matthew Norman urges seafood lovers to try the new Scott's on London's Mount Street

Chips were "crisp, greaseless and exemplary", and two side dishes - braised fennel with olive oil and mashed Jerusalem artichoke hearts - were imaginative and delicious. "They've done it again, they've just gone and done it again!" squealed my friend, sounding uncannily like Barry Davies describing a legendary Francis Lee goal in the 70s ("Look at his face, just look at his face!") as he tasted our shared pud, an unbelievably light and springy steamed plum sponge pudding with fantastic custard. "This is an absolutely tiptop dining experience and no mistake," he said as we finished coffee, and he was right. (Meal for one, £70-£90 per head for three courses with wine. Rating 9.75/10)

[The Independent on Sunday](, 18 March
Terry Durack finds Magdalen in Tooley Street, London, much better second time around

We race back a few days later, to sit downstairs in the more relaxed room adjacent to the front bar. This time we get a doll of a waitress sweet-tempered, helpful and knowledgable, who doesn't blink when we say no to first courses, desserts and mineral water, and order only a Longhorn beef Parmentier (£30 for two), two glasses of red and an off-the-menu green salad. Anything called Parmentier should come with potatoes and this does in spades. A large, shallow Le Creuset gratin dish is filled with a good old-fashioned stew of gelatinous beef cheek and shreddy, fall-apart chuck, topped with fingerlings of Charlotte potatoes. The slightly oily juices are thickened not with flour but with the potatoes themselves as they fall back into the stew. A side dish of young, sweet, buttered carrots is spot-on and the green salad (£3) is beautifully done. (About £90 a head for two, including wine and service. Rating 13/20)

[The Sunday Times](, 18 March
Ten years on, AA Gill reckons London hot spot Nobu is so yesterday

…and the black cod, the most copied dish of the past 10 years. I remember having it here for the first time, and what a great joy it was: how fresh, how beautifully made and carefully flavoured. Now, umpteen thousand servings later, it was a roughly mongered tranche of dead fish that was very watery and overcooked, without that divine creaminess that comes only with pristine freshness, all dunked in brown, cloying, toffee-like sweetness. Then there was the selection of sushi, so poorly and hurriedly made that it would have been suspect in a provincial takeaway. (Bill for two £280, excluding wine)

[Metro](, 21 March
Marina O'Loughlin is unimpressed by London's Ristorante Semplice

[Bloomberg, 16 MarchRichard Vines reappraises Hakkasan in London

Hakkasan is one of the most influential London restaurants to have opened in recent years. Widely imitated, it has lifted Chinese food out of the takeaway ghetto and placed it alongside sushi on the catwalk of culinary fashion. Hakkasan, which picked up a Michelin star in 2003, isn't cheap, but the good news is that the cooking — under Tong Chee Hwee — is much better than you might think. In terms of value, the dim sum platter is hard to beat at £10. You get huge and steaming hot scallop shumai, har gau, Chinese chive dumpling and shimeiji (mushroom) dumpling. And I haven't yet got around to Peking Duck With Royal Beluga caviar £140 or Braised Emperor's Seafood £120.Those are the top prices on the menu, but about a third of the dishes cost £18.50 or more, which can result in hefty bills. It's surprising that Hakkasan hasn't yet become a chain, when the formula might work as well as Nobu's. At night, Hakkasan has the excitement and buzz of a hot venue, yet it's as noisy as a student-union bar and conversation can be tricky, but after six years in business, Hakkasan is still at the top of its game.

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