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Reviews: Fay Maschler reviews Restaurant Gordon Ramsay; Grace Dent describes Kerridge's Bar & Grill as "exquisite British crowd-pleasers at eye-watering prices"

02 October 2018 by
Reviews: Fay Maschler reviews Restaurant Gordon Ramsay; Grace Dent describes Kerridge's Bar & Grill as "exquisite British crowd-pleasers at eye-watering prices"

The Evening Standard's Fay Maschler reviews Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Similarly, Cornish skate has nothing like the impact of Cornish turbot. It is not just a function of the hierarchy of fish but the skate, in being fashioned into a diamond shape and fried, has lost the lovely sexy gelatinous quality that obtains when the wing is left intact. The vegetables surrounding it, however, are a work of art with a snap to them that in a beguiling way belies their nature.

Lunch menu peach briefly poached in Sauternes and saffron decked with leaves and petals, including marigold, is pretty as a picture and brings to mind the approach of Clare Smyth who, before she left to open Core by Clare Smyth in Notting Hill Gate last year, was chef-patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Matt Abé, currently chef de cuisine, worked alongside her for four years.

Spontaneity, munificence, emotional connection (possibly attributes of restaurants you love) are missing in action but that is not the aim of three-star Michelin, where consistency is prized above everything and restaurant regulars are a rare breed.

Score: 4/5


kerridge-bar-and-grill-2
kerridge-bar-and-grill-2

"Exquisite British crowd-pleasers at eye-watering prices," The Guardian's Grace Dent reviews Kerridge's Bar & Grill in London WC2

Are fish and chips ever worth £32.50? This is possibly the most pertinent question about chef Tom Kerridge's glitzy new dining room in the 283-room, five-star Corinthia Hotel near Whitehall in London. So let's just cut to the chase. What if I told you the fish is the finest, freshest, most ethical brill cocooned in a batter so crisp, it feels like a masterclass in whipping and dipping. Oh, and you eat the fish while Kerridge himself, the man off the telly, ambles jovially around his 90-cover fiefdom in chef's whites.

Plus, this fish arrives with a little pot of chips. Say, around 12 chips in all, but triple-cooked with an ethereal, golden shimmer, so that each one feels like a little earnest task at hand. A delicious task, yes, but these are not flippantly scoffed chips like the gargantuan, soft, soggy and fragrant pile you unwrap from the local chippy, stinking gloriously of malt, newsprint and Friday night. No, these are special, once-in-a-lifetime chips flanked by three delicate schooners of chunky tartare, pease pudding and the Matson spiced sauce previously seen at Kerridge's two-Michelin-starred Buckinghamshire pub, the Hand & Flowers.

Price: about £60 a head Á la carte; £24 for two-course set lunch and pre-/post-theatre menu, £29.50 for three; all plus drinks and service. Score: food 8/10; service 8/10; atmosphere 9/10


BÁ¸realis is, if not quite Old Nordic, at least by no means neurotically New, writes Keith Miller in The Telegraph

My favourite dish of the night: two fair-sized fillets of mackerel, lightly cured in snaps, salt and juniper, then seared on one side and served with orange and fennel. It was beautifully balanced, artless and complex: the fish plump and fresh, the sweet citrus pieced by the pungent berries.

A violet potato salad with pickled ­cucumber and burnt sweetcorn in a velvety buttermilk dressing didn't quite scale the same heights. It was pretty enough to look at, or would have been under stronger lighting; but the spuds, immaculately heritage-conscious as they undoubtedly were, had the wrong texture, spongy and rough, and a slight taste of damp.

Then came two archetypal Scandi dishes, the sort of thing you might get in a grand department-store restaurant, or the Ikea managers' café: meatballs (frikadeller) with lingonberries and a rich mash, and smoked sirloin with beetroot and dill.

Score: 3/5. Price: around £140 for dinner for two


Runner beans, peach, goats' cheese, smoked almonds
Runner beans, peach, goats' cheese, smoked almonds

The Observer's Jay Rayner finds "vivid, thrilling stuff" and "cooking that stays with you" at Yotam Ottolenghi's Rovi in London's Fitzrovia

Sweetheart cabbage has been slow roasted until it has collapsed into louche, buttery petals. It is smeared with a little salted anchovy and dressed with a dashi broth (there's a fully vegetarian version, too). Various alliums - onions, spring onions and the like - are grilled until the sugars have started singing, and dressed with seeds and crisp sage leaves. To one side there is a bright sour green "gazpacho", held back by ramparts of whipped salty feta.

But the show-stopper is the celeriac shawarma. It's a killer idea, brilliantly executed. Who knew that if you took celeriac and gently roasted it for an age, it would turn into something deep and sticky and rich? Clearly, Ottolenghi did. It is served under drifts of crisped onions inside their own gnarly pita bread with, on the side, more fermented chilli. It's a total eye widener. It is a late-night kebab with a PhD. Yes, the £14.50 price tag feels enthusiastic, but then look at this damn room with its polished marble, plum-coloured, club-class-lounge banquettes and back-lit panels. We're in Fitzrovia, my loves. All that isn't going to pay for itself.

Price: small plates £6-£14.50, large plates £12.50-£20.50, desserts £6-£9, wines from £30


kin-deum
kin-deum

The Evening Standard's Jimi Famurewa reviews Kin + Deum near London Bridge

Running an eye over the approachable mains I went for Bangkok's gra pow with tofu and vegetables. It offered a well-drilled dance of forceful heat and necessary sweetness, improved endlessly by the fact that, on our attentive waitress's suggestion, I chose to top my side order of jasmine rice with a gooey-centred golden crown of a flash-fried egg. I insist you do this. Charlie had Bank's massaman curry with beef - named after head chef Bank, smiley and very visible on our visit - and it was even more of a knockout; a powerfully fragrant, patiently cooked bowl thick with cashew nuts, buttery clouds of simmered potato and tender meat. Gathering our plates, Roselyn recommended we come back for the dinner-only crispy tamarind eggs, on the menu simply because she eats them with everything at home.

Here is an independent place with a warm-glow backstory and a menu that, while playing the hits, does so with flair, care and the odd unexpected flourish. It soothes and it heartens, even as it educates. The middle ground has never looked so appetising.

Score: ambience 3/5; food 4/5


Bababoom in London's Islington is "fun, likeable and distinctive", writes Michael Deacon in The Telegraph

My friend and I started with the sticky sumac chicken wings. They weren't lying about the stickiness. The wings both felt and tasted as if they'd been dunked in hot jam. In fact, it was date molasses. Big portion, for something advertised as a 'nibble', so you certainly couldn't complain about value. Just depends on how you feel about having something sweet for a starter.

You can choose from chicken shish, lamb, mutton shoulder, beef brisket, broad-bean falafel or coal-fired cauliflower. You order them either with a salad or on a flatbread. The flatbread is Persian and very different to the pitta you might have had with a late-night doner. This is thicker. Much thicker. It makes it difficult to fold everything up into a kind of sandwich. It's like trying to roll up a mattress. To be honest, it's also like trying to bite into a mattress.

The fillings, however, are good. I had the chicken shish: a mound of meat, a furious-looking chilli, plus some salady odds and ends. I loved the chilli. An absolute stinger. It was like being lashed on the tongue by a jellyfish. In a good way. The little orange chilli dip was pretty savage, too. Definitely better quality meat than you'd get in your 1am kebab shop. Again, though, a sticky-sweet glaze on the chicken: this time saffron and orange.

Price: Three courses for two £40 without alcohol. Score: 3/5


Elaine Lemm of the Yorkshire Post finds much to draw her back at Elsworth Kitchen in Skipton, North Yorkshire

First up, a traditional hummus served with warm flatbreads is straightforward but just a little too heavy on the garlic. A plate of crispy sesame seed salmon belly and a seaweed mayonnaise, however, goes down a storm. You would think that this fatty part of the fish would be… fatty? Not so, and the chunks of fish come tempura with a whisper of sesame batter wrapped around them. The mayo could do with the same heavy hand that used the garlic though as the dip is slightly lacking in punch.

There was no restraint shown with what was one of the loveliest of lunch dishes for me in a long time - a faultless roasted dukkah-crusted meaty chunk of hake. The fish sat on the plate surrounded delightfully by tiny pieces of golden beetroot, scrumptious pickled fennel, healthy Puy lentils and seaweed salad and was bathed in a citrus dressing, bringing in a lovely smack of acidity.

Farmhouse black pudding, ham hock, smoked bean hash, poached egg and bourbon glaze has already become something of a signature dish here. I get why, as this hearty but not heavy dish oozes comfort on a plate. A slight tap of the egg has the golden yolk slowly trickling down and seeping into the hash. Then, as a forkful of the egg, beans, ham and black pudding is scooped up, all I can hear are sighs of delight from across the table. I join in and agree this is a lovely dish.

Price: £6 for a three-course lunch for two, no wine. Score: welcome 4/5; food 5/5; atmosphere 4/5; prices 5/5


Hotels

beverley-arms
beverley-arms

Stephen McClarence of The Times says that the recently revamped Beverley Arms hotel in the market town of Beverley, East Yorkshire, is a real asset to the locality

Thwaites, the Lancashire-based brewer and hotelier, bought the largely Georgian building two years ago and spent more than £6m on its restoration. The result is a stylish, bustling hotel worthy of this handsome market town. Step through the front door and you enter a bar that opens into a light-filled restaurant. Reception - a modest table - is tucked away.

But, yes, it's a hotel, with 38 bedrooms in muted shades and plenty of autumnal plaid -"Edwardian hipster", we're told, is the design aim. The furnishings are a contemporary take on classic antique, and the rooms offer armchairs, eclectic artwork and surprisingly little traffic noise.

Food is served from noon to 9.30pm and features imaginative pub-style dishes - steaks, pies, fish, burgers, sharing plates and salads. The creamy Mediterranean vegetable moussaka (£12.50) was possibly a tad sweet, but the pan-fried sea bass (£17) was succulent and the summer pudding (£6) was delicious.

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