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What's on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

15 November 2010 by
What's on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

The Sunday Telegraph, 14 November
Zoe Williams is underwhelmed by the food and atmosphere at Brasserie Joël, a could-be-anywhere hotel restaurant
The green beans (£4) were as fresh as anything, and the carrots (£4) could not have been more attractive, dainty and improbably orange. But so far I was not dazzled. There is obviously expertise in the kitchen. And if it's anything like the front-of-house manpower, there's a proliferation of it, all milling about deliberately. But it feels a bit passionless and corporate. There were, of course, some fancy-pants puds. It's become a requirement in a certain sort of restaurant that desserts will only cut it if they need four people to put them together and the whole palaver is as much hassle as getting a cast-iron bath out of a fifth-floor flat. D had a chestnut creation (£6.50), with a chestnut cream, some ice-cream and bits of marron glacé. It worked pretty well so long as you were on board with the first principle: nothing beats a chestnut.
Three courses £41.75. Rating 6.5/10
Brasserie Joel review in full >>

The Guardian, 13 November
John Lanchester finds Sicilian restaurant Da Piero in Irby, Cheshire, is knocking out some of the best Italian cooking in the country

Da Piero review in full >>

The Observer, 14 November
Jay Rayner says a cocktail piano, a discerning clientele and a chef on song mean Entrée in Battersea, London SW11, is on the rise
This one deserves to make it, because hiding shyly behind an unremarkable menu of dishes is a kitchen and a chef - Omar Palazzolo - with some serious chops. Admittedly a little taster of a smoked potato foam with truffle and paprika was not the greatest start. It is best described as a marker of ambition rather than taste. You can admire the skill, while still wondering what the point of it was. However, a crab lasagne, the meat set in a light seafood mouse sandwiched by perfect slices of pasta on a textbook chive beurre blanc, the whole scattered with slices of caramelised scallop, is food to swoon over. Arancini, the ultimate classy leftovers dish, made from balls of risotto rice, were as good an example as you'll find this side of Milan. They can so easily be dull and solid, the Death Stars of the starter world. These were light and crisp and came with a mess of peas, avocado and tomatoes and just a hint of chilli. Scrape one on to the other and grin.
Meal for two, including wine and service, £100
Entrée review in full >>

The Independent on Sunday, 14 November
Amol Rajan finds exquisite cooking and service at the Bingham hotel in Richmond, Surrey, where Hotel Catey winner Shay Cooper is in charge of the kitchen

The three-course set lunch is £38 per person, and comes with an excellent amuse-bouche: celeriac and vanilla mousse with poussin (salty and moist) and crispy bits of apple. C has the organic salmon with a very clever courgette-and-basil relish, strips of squid and crispy ginger. There are hints of Tokyo in this. My charming venison carpaccio, with a creamy truffle mayonnaise and tiny pickled cauliflowers, hints more at Taunton. Both are marvellous. C's plaice is unexceptional, but the side-portion - smoked eel gnocchi with hints of curry spice - may be one of the outstanding gastronomic experiences of modern civilisation: perfect mini-bites in an aromatic, buttery sauce. My braised halibut is muscular and pungent, and though it sits on an irrelevant wedge of baby gem, the accompanying hand-rolled macaroni with mushroom vinaigrette - Cooper clearly loves his fungi - is superb.
About £140 for lunch for two, including wine and service. Rating 8/10
Bingham review in full >>

The Times, 13 November
Giles Coren says Italian restaurant Tinello, London SW3, will become one of the big success stories of this year
Let me see, now. We had very thinly sliced, beautifully dry and crispy deep-fried baby artichokes (£3.50); fine pickled octopus (£2.90) and deep-fried baby cuttlefish (£3.60) that were a little over-seasoned. Then there was terrific lardo (pale, white, cured pork fat) draped over brown bread crostini with chestnut honey, which would have been better for me without the honey. The fat is so ethereally mild and sweet that the honey just smothers it, like a fat man accidentally sitting on a kitten. And I'd rather have had it on the little warm puffs of very white bread, whose name I forget, which is how I tasted lardo for the first time, at Refettorio, Locatelli's canteen in Blackfriars. The grainy brown bread here was just too interesting, so that the herby, woodland scent of the pigs' diet was blown away by yeast and wheat. But then maybe if you get to eat a lot of lardo (which I don't) you're looking for variations.
Cooking: 7; Service: 8; Location: 8. Rating 7.67
Tinello review in full >>

The Sunday Times, 14 November
AA Gill finds himself distinctly underwhelmed by the mediocre menu on offer at Ondine, Edinburgh's fanciest fish restaurant
A tempura squid was blankly bland. I wonder if the chef had actually tasted it, and, if so, where he imagined the pleasure in eating it would be gleaned? Possibly in the righteous exercise. The best thing was a dressed crab, fresh and sweet and meaty. A lobster thermidor was too small, and made without panache. The chips, fried in dripping, were better than the cemented fish they accompanied. Treacle tart was OK, but the puddings had that pretentious look of having been outsourced to a frustrated ballet designer. Ondine is perfectly adequate in almost every department, but excels in none. In most other cities in Britain, it would be more than welcome. In the rest of Scotland, it would be miraculous. But here and now, it is underpowered and underwhelming. Fish and crustaceans in and around Scotland are unsurpassed anywhere. A piscine dining room in the capital should be much better than this: more generous, more hospitable, more jingoistic. More opinionated.
Price for two £150. Rating 2/5
Ondine review in full >>

By Kerstin KÁ¼hn

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