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Reviews: Grace Dent leaves Gazelle hungry; Marina O'Loughlin is pleasantly surprised by relocated Native

03 September 2018 by
Reviews: Grace Dent leaves Gazelle hungry; Marina O'Loughlin is pleasantly surprised by relocated Native

The Guardian's Grace Dent leaves Gazelle in London's Mayfair still hungry

Hungry, I order six dishes. First the mushroom, pine nut and white garlic. It's a delicious bowl of enoki strands, pruned to look like spaghetti in a rich, wild garlic sauce. I say "bowl": the portion would struggle to cover the floor of a Barbie paddling pool. All dishes are made to share, the waiter had told us without even slightly corpsing.

Next along is "turbot with sea herbs". It is roughly a fish finger's worth of doubtlessly premium-grade turbot, served with a pretty green hat. At this point I notice a life raft of "fennel and spelt bread" lurking at the bottom of the menu, as if it's ashamed of its carby stomach-filling abilities. It arrives. My guest and I divvy it up and eat it rapidly. "Would you like more bread?" the waiter asks. "No," I say, because lining our stomachs in this covert manner feels faintly ridiculous.

Score: food 5/10; service 8/10; ambience 4/10. Price: about £50 a head plus drinks and service


native
native

The Sunday Times's Marina O'Loughlin is pleasantly surprised by the recently relocated Native restaurant, now in London's Borough

They're big on game: wood pigeon with the curious additions of hazelnut milk, yarrow and homemade cherry hoisin. And I can't resist my first grouse of the season, its carmine breast flawlessly tender, its claw-ended leg fried into the most aristocratic version of KFC - a doozy of a dish, served, apparently, with the sort of stuff it likes to eat: purée of English sweetcorn, greengage, toasty grains laced into a kind of savoury chocolatiness with Trealy Farm black pudding. The cumulative effect of these dishes is bosky, exciting, thrilling - like propping up an autumn tree in anticipation of a good Mellorsing.

Even sweet things that seem like perfect madness come off: white chocolate bonbons spiked with bone marrow, richness upon richness, served on the sawn-off bones themselves. Petits fours, charnel house-style. The chocolate has a back note of fatty meat, startling at first and then quite, quite hypnotic.

Price: £131 for two, including 14% service charge


The Observer's Jay Rayner has a lunch that "gently exceeds your underwhelming expectations" at Tozi in London's Victoria

There is a hefty £38 price tag on a dish of hand-cut tagliolini, but it is justified by the size - there's enough here for three - the generous shavings of black truffle and the quality. Each velvety strand has that gnarly hand-shaped appearance which suggests the attentions of a details freak, and comes in a shiny emulsion of butter and pasta water. It is that ideal thing: adult nursery food.

We have pearly flakes of roasted cod, in a tomato broth with clams demanding to be sucked off the shell. Then comes a classic saltimbocca, the veal beaten thin and layered with Parma ham and sage before being fried to crisp and dressed with a glossy veal jus. It is the thinnest saltimbocca I have come across. We finish with a goblet of tiramisu, the cream element an emerald green courtesy of pistachios. Some Italian purists will scowl at such a thing but that's OK. More for me.

Price: £60-£100 for a meal for two, including drinks and service


amano-courtyard
amano-courtyard

Michael Deacon reviews Amano in West Malling, Kent, in The Telegraph

To minimise the damage to my waistline I attempted to go for the most protein-rich order possible. I started with the burrata cheese and prosciutto crudo (dry-cured ham). Perfectly nice ham, but the burrata was glum, wet and flavourless. Imagine eating your grandmother's face pack.

For my main I had the pesce spada: Sicilian-style swordfish, with cherry tomatoes, oregano, chilli, garlic and courgette (non-battered this time). Good, firm, chunky steak of swordfish, in texture closer to meat than fish, although it was engulfed by so much liquid I was worried it might swim off. Tomatoes were plump, fresh and bursting with juice. Each time I poked my fork into one I almost got a jet of it in the eye.

My wife went for pasta, and it was terrific. Pappardelle ai funghi di sottobosco: long thick slippery ribbons of voluptuous pasta, garlicky, nicely salted, with soft hot gooey mushrooms. Beautifully done.

Price: £60 for dinner for two without alcohol. Score: 3.5/5


corapearl fish-with-croutons
corapearl fish-with-croutons

Cora Pearl in London's Covent Garden "feels refreshingly, relaxingly at home with itself", writes Frankie McCoy in the Evening Standard

Nothing at Cora is particularly adventurous. There is nothing my mum wouldn't be able to identify or wouldn't automatically like without being told why she should. It's just really nice.

What [chef George] Barson has done is to take things people really like and cook them. This toastie is more gussied up than a student Breville job - dainty crustless fingers sheeny gold from lavish outer buttering - but any prissiness is offset by the unsubtle, hangover-quenching slap of cheesy, salty pork.

It's all really tasty. The best mouthful all evening is a giant crouton of flame-licked bread cosseted in yet more Parmesan, plonked firmly into fish soup sweetly orange with paprika and tomato. The subsequent spoonful is childishly yummy: the cheesy, briney crunch of a tuna melt after a Saturday swimming lesson.

So many new restaurants feel ruthlessly planned in a boardroom, with steely, checklisted efficiency and market-researched cult dishes. Cora Pearl feels refreshingly, relaxingly at home with itself by comparison.

Score: 4/5


HOTELS

the-master-builders
the-master-builders

"You'll be hard pushed to find a prettier spot in Britain," writes Antonia Windsor in The Telegraph, reviewing the Master Builder's hotel in the New Forest, Hampshire

Choose between either the period main-house rooms or more modern refurbished annexe rooms. All come well equipped with coffee machines, complimentary elderflower spirit and Teapigs tea bags. The annexe rooms are decorated in greys and creams with nautical blue-striped throws and cushions.

The rooms in the main house have dark wooden antique cabinets and wardrobes, and rich period colours: reds, blues, purples and gold. Many also have fine views over the river. Bathrooms are spacious with powerful showers or tubs.

Enjoy a glass of English Chapel Down sparkling wine on the terrace in the late evening sun before tucking into some fresh local produce from a menu that is small, but well formed. A starter of crab risotto with crab sauce and avocado ice cream is creamy and comforting. Mains include beer-brined pork collar with purple sprouting broccoli and sole meunière with samphire and brown butter sauce. Classic desserts such as lemon posset and treacle tart are in keeping with the old-England feel of the place.

Price: from £99 for a double room in low season; and from £220 in high. Score: 8/10


the-grafton-arms
the-grafton-arms

The Grafton Arms in London's Fitzrovia is "a quintessential British pub" with "fresh, new and modern" hotel-style rooms, writes Laura Hampson in the Evening Standard

The rooms themselves are just up the stairs before you get to the rooftop, with a separate, lockable entrance way. The first thing I noticed about the room we stayed in was how quiet it was. With the hustle and bustle of the pub downstairs, it's no small feat to have a room that's quiet, warm and comfortable.

The second thing I noticed was how stepping into the room felt like we were stepping into a high-end hotel - not a room above a pub. Having just recently opened, the room felt fresh, new and modern with a soothing colour palette and touches of vintage-style wares.

The pub offers a modern pan-Asian menu - an interesting twist on the typical gastro-pub offering. The dishes are created by executive chef Jan Wang and we went for the pork bao buns and satay chicken skewers for the starters and lamb rendang curry and crispy aromatic duck for the main. Both courses were exquisitely presented and tasted even better than they looked.

Price: from £205 per night

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