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Reviews: David Ellis describes Cornerstone as "spellbinding"; Keith Miller cheers on La Petite Bouchée

13 August 2018 by
Reviews: David Ellis describes Cornerstone as "spellbinding"; Keith Miller cheers on La Petite Bouchée

"Much is spellbinding" at Tom Brown's Cornerstone in London's Hackney Wick, according to The Evening Standard's David Ellis

Roast cod came with a Café de Paris Hollandaise the colour of New York cabs, all paprika and capers and the cut of Worcestershire sauce. An extraordinary plate that surely owes much to Brown's training in Cornwall, the simple billing has a touch of the "oh-this-old-thing?". The menu understates for effect.

A piece of plaice stunned, proof Brown's talent is gentle and fine, with a disposition for delicacy.

Price: £45 tasting menu . Score: 4/5.


The Telegraph's Keith Miller gives two cheers for La Petite Bouchée in Witheridge, Devon

The menu changes monthly. When you book you have to decide in advance what you're going to eat: in July, when we went, there were three entrées, two amuses, five plats, two desserts and cheese.

I bridled at the menu thing, but they sent a nice email saying they are zero waste - they are also more than fairly priced at £28.50 for three courses. Plus by the time we arrived, it felt quite relaxing to have one less thing to worry about.

I enjoyed a couple of slightly more cheffy touches: a nouvelle cuisine-ish amuse of "Bloody Mary shrimps", the clean taste of the vodka bringing out the sweetness and texture of the shellfish; and a skilfully done entrée of steamed razor clams in herb oil which, unusually for razor clams, didn't taste like fricasséed inner tube. I also loved the cheese: good Roquefort, Brie de Meaux and Gruyère, in - again - reassuringly copious quantities.

The small qualms I had - there was an outbreak of chewiness in the rillettes, the broth in my lamb with haricot beans was a little too thin, several dishes could have done with a pinch more seasoning - evaporated in the fug of cheerfulness that developed in the room over the course of the evening.

Price: around £90 for dinner for two. Score: 3/5


rovi
rovi

Michael Deacon describes Ottolenghi's Rovi in London's Fitzrovia as "pure Guardian" in The Telegraph

If I had to sum up Rovi in one word, there's no question what it would be. Guardian. It's just so Guardian

My friend and I started with the crumpet lobster toast with kumquat and chilli sauce. Outstanding. Warm, rich, in parts floatily soft and in others satisfyingly crunchy. Do not order this to share. You'll regret it. One each. Absolute minimum.

Next, the squid and lardo (pork fat) skewers, with red-pepper glaze and fennel salad. Lovely skewers, thick, tangy, but cooled nicely by a blob of aÁ¯oli.

Now the celeriac shawarma… they fill the pocket with celeriac, along with fermented tomato and that bkeila business I mentioned earlier. That's right: a Guardian kebab. Personally, I liked it (juicy, chunky, glowingly spiced), although after six pints I suspect that the elephant's leg would still edge it.

Price: about £80 for dinner for two without alcohol. Score: 4.5/5


st-leonards
st-leonards

Bruce Palling at The Week describes St Leonards in London's Shoreditch as "provocatively inventive"

Starters include oysters three ways - natural, dressed or flamed… The flamed one is pushing the envelope with pig fat along with a sauce of gooseberries, ginger, cumin and shallots with powdered pork rind. People think nothing of mixing a scallop with bacon or chorizo, so replacing them with cooked oysters is not so off the wall. Besides, there is nothing weird about the combination, which is again a taste and textural triumph.

Main courses were more of a toss up - the roast hake was cooked perfectly with charred mini leeks and crab aÁ¯oli. The 50-day longhorn sirloin was the only confusing dish. It was in the hearth section which included some delicious looking sirloin ribs off the grill but this was actually unexposed to flame and visually looked raw or even sous-vide. It had apparently been rested in a warm section next to the flames from the morning, so that it was slow cooked over several hours.

This meant the line of fat along the edge was not truly firm or crusty and overall, the steak had a certain toughness. The accompanying beef-fat potato cake also didn't quite hang together, though the side order of Hispi cabbage with pork fat and xo crumb was satisfyingly exotic. It is probably just a case of more explanation required on the menu as there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the concept, just that it wasn't what one expected, given the flames flickering from the grill.


henry-harris-the-coach
henry-harris-the-coach

The Coach in London's Farringdon, one of Henry Harris's new pubs, serves the best sort of comfort food, writes The Independent's Ed Cumming

Panicking, we went rich. Three of us: three starters, three mains. A scoop of duck rillette with crunchy little cornichons; calves' brains drenched in capers and butter; a loose, fine-grained steak tartare, heaped with more capers and diced onion.

Then a rabbit leg lying on green bean sleepers in a pool of thick mustard sauce. Our waitress had advised us it was the "most Instagrammable" of the main courses. Sign me up. More duck, too: a gold-brown confit leg, resting on a bed of sausage-studded lentils, and a breast, seared and sliced, with artichokes and little Mousseron mushrooms, drenched in an orange reduction.

I can't remember the last time I saw three kinds of duck on a menu outside of Gascony. It's enough to restore your faith in the world.

Price: around £50 a head for three courses and some wine


brigadiers
brigadiers

JKS Restaurants' Brigadiers in the City of London is hard to forget, writes Jay Rayner in The Observer

"Beef chuck bone marrow keema chilli cheese kulcha" is a fighty game of food word association in a stoneware bowl. It describes a hugely compelling mince curry with a lump of roasted bone marrow down the middle, plus cheesy bread to scoop it all up with. By this point your fingertips will be oily and you'll smell richly of roasted spices, garlic and happiness. Against these two, a small naan, piled with a mess of wood-fired mushrooms roasted with fenugreek, feels almost delicate. It isn't, but it feels that way.

Main courses are huge and meaty. There's a mushroom biryani and a dish of roasted aubergine but, really, it's about things which once had a pulse. The meal becomes about dark brown things on plates, but they are very good, very intense dark brown things. Lamb ribs, that often overlooked cut which demands a firm hand, here gets one. They're pelted with spices, before being left to loiter in a hot oven until they've started to fall apart, then dressed in a sauce the colour of a dark leather satchel.

Price : £70-£110 for a meal for two, including drinks and service


mezzidakia
mezzidakia

"The food slips below a standard that even the slackest mid-market chain would not countenance" at Mezzidakia in Glasgow, writes Joanna Blythman in The Sunday Herald

I'd love to assemble a focus group of Turks and ask them what they made of the very firm Urfa kebab, which seems warmed through, not cooked freshly, to hear their views on the sweet, vinegary 'Turkish chilli sauce' that accompanies it. I can't imagine that the verdict would be favourable…

Let's not ignore Iran. This 'Persian eggplant and lentil curry' with its vapid aubergine, which might have been added at the last moment, and its amateurish vinegary-sweet, tinned tomato and split pea cook-up that achieves first-year-away-from-home student flat standard, well, I would blame the Iranians if they felt misrepresented. Or the Yemenite-Jews, I'd like to see their faces when confronted with the tired, olive-green mixture purporting to be zhug, a dip which should be a bright and verdant, thanks to heaps of really fresh coriander. And what might the universal verdict on the salty flat bread be? Unappetisingly elastic, I'd wager. I'm trying to find a redeeming factor, I am, but there's really no consolation to be had at Mezzidakia for people of any cultural persuasion.


The Sunday Times's Marina O'Loughlin finds Post Office in Kent's Margate "all a bit basic"

The burger - good quality meat, roughly ground - is overcooked way beyond the requested medium rare, super-sloppy with its sneeze of drippy cheese and overpowering mulch of caramelised onions. Eating it is like having a wrestling match with a boeuf bourguignon and losing. Fries are frozen (odd, since they make their own perfectly good "triple-cooked chips" as a side) and the bun is the inevitable sugary brioche. There's an excellent gooey-crisp brownie for dessert, self-identifying as "Snickers" thanks to a scattering of peanuts and a scoop of commercial ice-cream.

The new Post Office is fine. Not as good as [Tom] Griffiths's other outlets: he doesn't seem to have imported his "whole animal" shtick, his fondness for offal, his bone-marrow toast or long-aged ducks dangling over an open fire. Here, other than a surprisingly flawless, taut and meaty sole in a pond of lemon-sharpened caper butter, it's all a bit… basic.

Price: £92 for two, without service charge


grilled-pork the-hidden-hut
grilled-pork the-hidden-hut

It's impossible not to adore the Hidden Hut in Porthcurnick, Cornwall, writes Grace Dent in *The Guardian*

On the day I stopped by, there was a chipotle beef chilli - all good so far - but with added feta and served with herb-speckled bulgur wheat. This culinary brouhaha flies in Stoke Newington, but in Porthcurnick it is positively raffish, and I love them for it.

The smoked haddock and mussel chowder was served with local samphire and oven-fresh focaccia. It could have done with being warmer, but I was eating it outdoors in a gale. The soup of the day was watercress and gorgonzola, which sounds like something Roald Dahl would have the Twits choose.

Fresh from the Hidden Hut's in-house oven there was a brioche bread pudding, a salted caramel flapjack, a gluten-free orange and lemon slice, plus - my choice - a very, very good, moist vegan banana bread. The Hidden Hut's gluten- and dairy-free stuff is acquired from a specialist kitchen called, wonderfully, the Exploding Bakery, but this is largely a family team who stand smiling at the window of a kiosk and serve things they are pulling more or less straight from their hearts.

Price: about £18 a head for three courses, plus drinks and service. Score: food 7/10; atmosphere 8/10; service 8/10


"Elegant, cultivated, smooth-running": Fay Maschler reviews Medlar in London's Chelsea in The Evening Standard

Burratina with crushed peas and broad beans, Australian black truffle, shaved walnuts and crisp chicken skin is a light-hearted construction, ideal in hot weather. A little grated cheese is scattered over and if you go in assuming it is wheat crackers shoring up the vegetables, the savoury intensity and succulence of fried chicken skin astonishes and delights.

Wild Cornish brill with datterini sauce vierge, fresh borlotti beans, courgettes, sea aster and chilli attracts a £4 supplement but is definitely worth it for white fish of this calibre interwoven with the colourful garnishes to render it a beautiful quilt. On the other hand, petit pois Á la FranÁ§aise, which accompany Poitou rabbit, are not the gentle mess of pottage that I associate with that recipe - no supine spring onions or melting lettuce - and the lardons are too brusque.

Ajo blanco with smoked eel, cherries and borage is such a good combo that more than just the thin covering of a soup plate is wanted. No complaint about the quantity of the rare Belted Galloway, soft as butter, with chubby snails in herb butter on a sautéed shag-pile mushroom carpet.

Score: 4/5


Hotels

university-arms
university-arms

Fiona Duncan of The Telegraph is a fan of the newly-opened University Arms hotel in Cambridge

The interior design is the work of man-of-the-moment Martin Brudnizki. It is his first whole hotel project, and he hits his stride in the bedrooms, painted in specially mixed shades of Cambridge blue depending on the natural light. Each has a suitably studious, eclectic feel, with books and learning to the fore. There are specially made retro desks and bookshelves, white tiled bathrooms that are luxurious yet evoke school, absorbing pictures and posters hung on chains from picture rails, and hardbacks. The Wind in the Willows (which you can also hear narrated by Alan Bennett when you enter the ground floor public loos), Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales and a Tom Sharpe novel are supplied in each room, while the 12 suites have Heywood Hill curated libraries built around the Cambridge-associated characters they are named after. The Hawking Suite is the largest, with a sweep of windows; others have private roof terraces and bathrooms in turrets; many have views over Parker's Piece.

Price: from £200 per night for a double, including breakfast


new road hotel
new road hotel

Emily Sargent of The Times enjoys a comfortable sleep and the cool vibe of the recently launched New Road hotel, a one-time factory in east London

It's a mix of old and new, with bright, retro 1970s wallpaper and neon signs paired with original dark wood and metal features. Guests can scan their phone over a barcode on a paper map of east London for event and restaurant suggestions and there's a vending machine selling "wonky" fruit water made from misshapen fruit that the supermarkets didn't want, and energy bars made from crickets. There's also a games room with a pool table and a yoga studio on the roof.

The 79 rooms are modern and simple. There are no minibars, kettles or room phones - instead guests can WhatsApp the front desk with any requests. The focus is on a good night's sleep, with heavy blackout blinds and huge square, comfortable beds. The bathroom is a large glass box in one corner, with a wet room-style shower with just a strip of frosted glass for privacy. Rooms come in four sizes: pocket, warehouse, family and loft. None is enormous, but all are comfortable, with fast wifi and a large TV.

Price: from 169 for a B&B double

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