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Reviews: Jimi Famurewa is ‘floored' by the turbot at Gridiron; while Jay Rayner describes Cornerstone as a ‘fish masterclass'

26 November 2018 by
Reviews: Jimi Famurewa is ‘floored' by the turbot at Gridiron; while Jay Rayner describes Cornerstone as a ‘fish masterclass'

The Evening Standard's Jimi Famurewa is "floored" by the turbot at Gridiron, the Como Metropolitan hotel's new restaurant in London's Mayfair, although the bill leaves a sting

We finished, somewhat giddy, with a serviceable sticky toffee pudding and devils on horseback, reborn as glinting slivers of lardo around squidgy, giant prunes. The evening's snags (no bread, somewhat stingy sides of glazed carrot and three-layered, beef dripping galette potatoes that I would have happily swapped for a tin bucket of oven chips) were hardly deal-breakers. But they do give a sense of why, despite parting with (oof) more than £200, we did not exactly waddle off into the drizzly night feeling properly stuffed.

Price: £205 for two


Roast monkfish with spiced aubergine, basil and ginger dressing
Roast monkfish with spiced aubergine, basil and ginger dressing

The Observer's Jay Rayner describes Tom Brown's Cornerstone in London's Hackney Wick as a "fish masterclass"

Raw gurnard is sliced thinly, laid out across a plate and dressed with sherry vinegar and the crunch of almonds and a little cream. It's one of those dishes which is all about judgment. How much is enough and how much is too much? Brown understands the word "enough". These two dishes make it all sound like a delicate pinkie-raised affair, but it really isn't. A big fat homemade crumpet, sitting proud on the plate, comes stacked with a generous pile of nutty potted shrimps, dripping with spiced molten butter. There is a dice of gherkins to help you pretend this isn't a total heart-stopper and, on the top, a tangle of kohlrabi in ribbons. It's the thinking person's crumpet. It's what high tea would look like if it was served in a bordello.

What underpins the cooking is a clear understanding of the essentials. A pristine piece of hake, all pearly flesh and golden skin and utter delight, is perfectly cooked. A beautiful fish has been shown respect. In the circumstances the lightly spiced pumpkin purée and the thyme dressing feel like the gorgeous velvet box in which a diamond ring is presented. And now I've gone off on one, which is what happens when the food is this good. Not that all the ingredients need to be such huge marquee names. A lowly wedge of celeriac is chargrilled and partnered with silky cod's roe and hazelnuts. At the end we are presented with a skate wing, cooked to the point when it practically removes itself from the cartilage. It comes with a deeply savoury and luscious roast chicken butter sauce.

Dishes £5-£17. Desserts £10. Wines from £35


the-walrus
the-walrus

Andy Richardson of the Shropshire Star discovers hit after hit at the Walrus in Shrewsbury

The first course was heritage carrot braised in Shropshire lager served with nettle pesto, beetroot textures, Shropshire blue and sesame crunch. It was utterly, utterly magnificent. If Ben was trying to make a statement, he succeeded. The dish was complex and considerable work had gone into the individual components. The balance was exceptional, with soft, yielding carrots, crunchy sesame and delicate cheese. The flavours sang as harmoniously as the City of Birmingham Choir and I cleared my plate in short order. It was a dish fit for Ben's former gaffer, Michael Wignall, who'd no doubt have been admiring of his charge's work.

The third dish was the stand-out of the evening. A fillet of cod had been poached in olive oil so that it broke apart beneath the fork. Translucent - exactly as it ought to be - it had been cooked with rare precision. It was served with mussel and gnocchi fricassee, curried onion purée, crispy bhaji and chive oil and the flavours were drop dead gorgeous. The dish showed that Ben's heritage carrot dish was no one-off or fluke. It set out his stall as the best in town, a man who's arrived on the scene with a straight-in-at-number-one hit.

Score: 4.5/5. Price: From two courses at £29 to six-course taster menu at £45


mexico-inn-3
mexico-inn-3

The Mexico Inn near Penzance in Cornwall isn't a family fun-pub, but a fun pub for families, writes Grace Dent in The Guardian

We began with some baskets of large tempura prawns sitting on the most wondrous beds of Asian-style slaw - sweet, nutty, fishy, sour, crunchy, healthy and whore-ish all at the same time. God's own garnish. If I lived closer by, I'd consume this stuff by the bucket. Slow-cooked lamb shoulder came with a fragrant, Moroccan-influenced stew laden with apricot, almonds and squash and served with a freshly grilled flatbread. Music was Brit-pop classics to please the forty-somethings and the dishes that emerged from the kitchen were pretty enough to impress our tween's Instagram followers, which was a huge relief to all the rest of us.

My mother ate her brisket in a brioche roll avidly. It arrived dripping with Swiss cheese and onion relish, with a generous of bowl of fresh, skin-on chips on the side. I have not been so quietly ecstatic since I surreptitiously got her to try, and enjoy, 'nduja at Foxborough in Carlisle, for which I think the place should get a blue plaque. Fresh, crisp battered Newlyn Market hake arrived with mushy peas whiffing of malted vinegar and good, zingy tartare. These little things mean so much.

Food: 8/10; atmosphere: 8/10; service: 8/10. About £28 a head for three courses, plus drinks and service


two-lights
two-lights

The Times' Marina O'Loughlin leaves Two Lights in London's Shoreditch feeling a bit flat

There's a beef main course that reads like a must-order: grilled shortrib with beetroot and pickled walnuts, glazed into treacly stickiness with Guinness and "apple cider". Well, you would, wouldn't you? But it's an unyielding chore: chew, chew, chew, and the bugger is still there. I think it's still there the next morning and possibly the following week, a leathery, over-ardent suitor.

Still, please don't think this is a bad restaurant. Those dishes apart, it really isn't. I remember when the Clove Club first opened, it was met by a pretty comprehensive critical shrug - largely to do with one leek and mussels dish. Sure, it was a bit of a clunker, but now the restaurant is a stone-cold classic.

Something that sounds as though it might be a tricksy reprise of this - "flatbread of mussels and brussels"- turns out to be a flash of genius: pillowy, elastic bread, razored sprouts, sweet plump shellfish, a spritz of vinegar. I immediately want to order it again.

Price: For two, including 12.5% service charge £155


The Evening Standard's Fay Maschler is more impressed by the décor than the service at the JKS-backed Berenjak in London's Soho

Outstanding in the dishes we try are khoresht e zereshk, guinea fowl legs stewed with saffron, onions, potatoes and barberries and jujeh kabab tond, poussin taken to a dark and juicy place, thanks to sumac, red peppers, chilli and ferocious heat, that I suspect it has never been before.

These and also chenjeh kabab of marinated lamb rump eclipse koobideh kabab of minced Cabrito goat shoulder - although it's great that this by-product of the dairy industry is being used - which lacks vivacious seasoning and kabab torki, a take on a post-piss-up doner complete with chips that at the price (£12.50) loses quite a lot in translation.

Corporate backing seems to have rationalised, prettified sanitised and bean-counted what is a rip-roaring tradition into what might even be a proto-chain. Service is full of too much information and would do well not to treat two women lunching like escapees from a care home who have never come across an aubergine before.

Score: 3/5


Giles Coren from The Times finds a hidden gem in Bin Bin Q Barbecue Market near Euston in London

Bin Bin Q really is a supermarket. On the right as you walk in is a brightly lit space with shelves full of colourful, cartoonishly packaged imported stuff for homesick locals, and, on the left, a tidy little restaurant of maybe 16 covers, served by one young waitress.

We had some pork dumplings, a couple of those long savoury doughnuts the Chinese go nuts for but whose name I forget, grilled enoki mushrooms, soya milk to drink and then some tentacle crowns of small squid, perfectly seasoned and fire-blasted to a brown stickiness. But the best dish of all was a couple of oysters, steamed with garlic and chilli under a tangle of glass noodles and served in the shell. Just dynamite. The same done with scallops was less impressive. So don't have the scallops, have the oysters. Easy.

Cooking: 7; service: 8; social media presence: 10; score: 8.33. Price: £25/head


amelie-flammekueche
amelie-flammekueche

The Telegraph's Michael Deacon checks out Regis Crepy's Amelie Flammekueche in Cambridge

I ordered two flammekueches: the 'authentic', and the chorizo and salami. The first bite revealed another difference between flammekueche and pizza: the lightness. Thanks to that yeast-free dough, flammekueche is fantastically light. Crisp and flaky, too. There's none of that heavy, sleepy feeling you get after a large pizza, when your gut swells into a bowling ball.

As for the toppings: the 'authentic' was very oniony, in a nice sort of way, and also featured smoked bacon and Gruyère cheese. The chorizo and salami was slim and dainty, despite all the meat.

I don't know whether flammekueche will ever catch on in this country like pizza did. But if you're in Cambridge, and want a lunch that's light, unfussy and different, Amélie Flammekueche is well worth trying. Essentially, it's an upmarket fast food. Pretty cheap, too.

Score: 4/5. Price: Three courses for two around £40 without alcohol


HOTELS

st-ives-harbour-hotel
st-ives-harbour-hotel

The Times' Ellie Ross praises the St Ives Harbour Hotel & Spa for its prime location and stylish bedrooms, but says it can get noisy with weddings and service is poor at times

Standing grandly above Porthminster Beach, this spa hotel offers fabulous views of St Ives Bay, quality bistro dining and a lovely indoor pool. Although some original features have been kept, including a 1930s lift, a recent refurbishment has given it a new lease of life. The bar, relaunched this year, oozes straight-line style, with an elegant marble counter, oak flooring and bright geometric print furniture.

Comfortable and classy, the 50 rooms vary in size, but are similarly styled: white walls and natural light add freshness, with vibrant pops of colour. Ours (Room 402, £310) was in the eaves, with a sea-facing Juliet balcony. As a Deluxe Family room, it had ample space, with two bedrooms (one with bunk beds) and two bathrooms. Complimentary gin and sherry in all rooms is a nice touch, although tonic would have been a welcome addition.

Rating: 7.5/10. Price: B&B doubles cost from £195

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