Reviews: Giles Coren raves about Cora Pearl's chips; Michael Deacon is won over by the Purefoy Arms
Giles Coren announces in The Times that the chips at Cora Pearl in London's Covent Garden, the second restaurant from the team behind Kitty Fisher's, are his dish of the year
And talking of proper food. Oh. My. Days. The chips. Identified by an observant Emmie on walk-in as the must-order side dish, these had the look of plain old Heston triple-cooked ("I prefer a thinner chip," Al sniffed), but when pressed with a fork, fanned out like a, well, fan, to reveal leaves of steaming waxy potato, each bearing a dark and golden edge. Absolutely the perfect potato-eating medium, where boring old triples, I now feel, are too crispy and don't taste enough of potato. This effect George achieves by slicing down raw potatoes into a dish as for a dauphinoise, baking with thyme, butter and salt, pressing overnight in the fridge, then cutting into chips and deep-frying.
Dipped in the bordelaise sauce, these chips, my friend, are the dish of the year. Dish of the decade. Dish of the effing century.
Price: £65 a head if you're sensible.
Score: cooking: 8/10; location: 9/10; loucheness: 10/10; total: 9/10
The Telegraph's Michael Deacon describes the Purefoy Arms in Preston Candover, Hampshire, as "a pub that takes food very seriously, while still managing to be unpretentious, relaxed and friendly"
I started with the "kedgeree", which was listed on the menu in quote marks, and with good reason, because it looked like a small bowl of custard with an egg yolk floating in it. It tasted great, though: tangy curried rice, slippery poached cod, mussels and juicy capers.
My main was the pork chop, served with sweet-and-sour peppers, fennel, and bubble and squeak, plus a side of wispy Hispi cabbage. Perhaps not blow-your-socks-off spectacular, but good, well-presented, and a cut above a conventional pub lunch.
I liked the Purefoy. It's a pub that takes food very seriously, while still managing to be unpretentious, relaxed and friendly. If you fancy pushing the boat out, there's a six-course tasting menu: one for meat eaters and another for vegetarians.
Price: about £55 for three courses for two without alcohol.
We need more restaurants like Forza Win in London's Peckham, writes Jay Rayner in The Observer, "if we are to vanquish the bland"
For the mains, there is a grilled pork collar steak, served slightly pink, alongside a dollop of braised lentils and a muscular salad of flat-leaf parsley and mint. But the star is a whole spatchcocked chicken for £35. It has been half boned out, then grilled with a generous squirt of lemon juice. The skin is crisp and slightly sticky, the meat soft. It comes with a deep, wintery bowl of chickpeas and chard, and deep-fried Jersey Royals, bursting from their skins in ragged, golden blooms. It is one of those meals that leaves you mouthing platitudes about the simple things done well. But that's what this is: the good stuff to which better things have happened.
In some ways, Forza Win, with its excellent menu of Italian classics, is following a safe course; but in many other ways it's an exceptionally brave venture indeed. We need much more of this, if we are to vanquish the bland.
Price: £60-£120 for a meal for two, including drinks and service
The Sunday Times's Dolly Alderton is charmed by the chocolate box perfection of the Cotswolds' Bell Inn in Langford
We start with wedges of juicy grilled peach, well matched with toasted hazelnuts and dulcet, creamy goats' curd. The shell-pink crab on toast is pleasant if a little too light, both in crabmeat and flavour, lacking a deep crustacean richness. My flexitarian dining partner tries the garlic, parsley and bone-marrow flatbread and delights in the golden rock pools of butter in its dense, half-melted, umami-rich marrow.
We share a side order of roasted Jersey royals with a moreish, saline seaweed butter. I am thrilled to see one of the components to my much-revised last meal on earth is on the menu: sea bass with heritage tomatoes. The flesh is light and tender, the skin thick and crisp - a marriage as perfect as Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, and as hard to replicate at home. I am nervous on behalf of the tomato salad, as finding the perfect combination of ingredients for one is something I've been committed to for a number of years. The tomatoes are sweet, flecked with gossamer ribbons of sliced shallot; a confetti of dill, parsley, basil and vinegary capers. Every mouthful is, to my mind, heavenly.
Price:£121.50 for two, including 12.5% service charge
Grace Dent enthuses about the Kitchen in Falmouth in The Guardian
The Kitchen's pudding course, named simply "Toffee Apple", turned out to be a Jackson Pollock-style dirty protest of black pepper, caramel, chervil panna cotta, rhubarb compote, brittle toffee, flecks of butterscotch mousse, chocolate, fennel, apple and cumin purée, and at least half a dozen other sweet, bitter and umami components. It was at times orgasmic and at others deeply unpleasant, like a good marriage.
I sat for hours drinking Trevviban Mill rosé and watching chef Ben Coxhead work quietly in a small, prison-cell-like space, plating fried, golden-skinned gurnard on to a perfectly balanced warm pear compote. And his fabulous asparagus dish: three varieties sitting in a buttery, onion-apple broth. That rabbit with scurvy turned out to be Thumper from Bambi served on scurvy grass, a vitamin C-rich, mustardy cress that was apparently given to the sailors of yesteryear.
You'll either love the Kitchen or you'll hate it: it could go either way. Still, restaurants such as this in British seaside resorts make my heart burst with happiness.
Price: about £30 a head, plus drinks and service.
Score: food 9/10; atmosphere 9/10; service 8/10
Alexander Larman of The Resident magazine reviews Beck at Brown's restaurant in London's Mayfair
The first impression is that the room, formerly Mark Hix's restaurant, has been lavishly revamped, courtesy of designer Olga Polizzi; the effect is that of stepping into a kind of tropical garden, complete with botanical flourishes.
The second impression is that there are a lot of staff, but not all of them are entirely adept at their jobs; a menu comes, but it takes a while to be served from it, and a request for a wine list takes even longer. To be fair, we did visit in the very early days, but one feels that things should be slicker given the high prices and deeply luxurious setting.
We have no complaints about the food, which is as excellent as one would expect from Beck; his signature dish of fagotelli carbonara - a miracle of Italian cuisine - was much missed and makes a welcome return, and secondi of roast veal and beef fillet are beautifully presented and taste even better.
Ellie Ross of The Times enjoys the Mount Haven hotel in Marazion, Cornwall, for its "supreme views" and good-value food, but suggests that its restaurant is overdue a redesign
This 19-room boutique hotel is aptly named: its elevated position just outside Marazion gives it a tranquil air of seclusion and dazzling views of St Michael's Mount and Mount's Bay. The pretty rock garden, modern decor and sun-soaked Terrace Bar seem far removed from the town's galleries, pubs and causeway to the famous island fortress, despite being only a ten-minute stroll away. Spread across two floors, rooms are contemporary and luxurious, and all have balconies or courtyards. Each is individually designed, but they are all decorated in light, muted shades.
Ross Sloan, the head chef, is a keen forager, collecting much of the seaweed and sea kale garnishes with his sous chef. My starter of Newlyn brown crab with gooseberry gazpacho and apple jelly looked like a work of art and tasted divine, and the turbot with oyster fritters and sea vegetables was also excellent. The chocolate fondant oozed perfectly. However, the restaurant's black and red printed booths and abstract photographs of urban scenes don't fit with the relaxed atmosphere.
Price: from £100 for a double B&B.
The Rose in Deal, Kent is a "riot of colour and character" says Jane Dunford of The Guardian
A red velvet curtain hides the staircase that leads up to the eight bedrooms. Forget the cool greys and pared-back decor favoured by many a boutique hotel: this place is a riot of colour and character and cleverly blends vintage, Victorian and mid-century elements. All the bedrooms are lovely in their own way: from number nine, the smallest with its blue patterned wallpaper and a bold yellow velvet headboard; to romantic number four, with dark walls, orange furnishings and purple roll-top bath.
At the helm in the kitchen is Rachel O'Sullivan, whose CV includes London hotspots Polpo and the Towpath. The menu is short but intriguing. Roast heritage tomatoes with croutons and aÁ¯oli (£7), taramasalata with radishes (£6) and grilled sardines with bobby beans (£11), are prettily presented and full of flavour. I can't resist the "Dutch baby", a pancake-cum-Yorkshire-pudding with buttermilk ice-cream and rhubarb jam (£6), which proves too huge to finish.
Price: Doubles from £100 B&B
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