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

10 January 2011 by
What's on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

The Guardian
8 January
John Lanchester is impressed with the tapas served at Morito, sister restaurant to Moro in Clerkenwell, London EC1, but finds the portions on the very small side of small
In total, three of us shared 14 dishes. That may sound a lot, but it wasn't, because the portions are small. At the time, I felt that the prices were a little toppy, but on looking again I see that they aren't, not for central London - our food bill was £70 for three. But a "Sevillian goat's cheese nipple" at £1.50 was literally a single nipple of cheese; a £6 scallop was literally one scallop; a £4.50 quail egg with ham on toast was literally one quail egg. All were delicious - the scallop in albariño sauce especially so - but we did feel the portions were on the very small side of small, and you need to order a lot of these tapas dishes to make a meal. If I were local to Morito, which I'm unfortunately not, I'd be tempted to use it more in a quick-drink-and-bite-after-work Spanish style than in a full-meal-of-tapas British manner.
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service, about £60Morito review in full >>

The Observer
9 January
Jay Rayner says Albert's Table in Croydon is a solid, sturdy restaurant knocking out solid, sturdy dishes full of flavour
Albert's Table does not do subtle - and I mean that as a compliment. If it offers you an ingredient, you taste the ingredient. In the main it is French bistro food, with the occasional nod in other directions that don't feel forced. A shortcrust tart of Dorset crab is made with rust-coloured brown meat and a pastry that cracks and crumbles in all the right ways. A salad of bitter endive, blue cheese and chives comes with a mustard dressing that makes its presence known. A thickly coated gratin of thinly sliced Jerusalem artichokes with hazelnuts has the kind of crust that has you picking away at it with a spoon. That dish was the last vegetarian moment before some serious meat cookery, which relies on slicks of huge-flavoured jus, and a lot of hot fricassée and sauté action. The mains read complicated but make sense on the plate or, in the case of a venison dish for two, in the big pan brought to the table: at the bottom, a braised hotpot of bambi shoulder with swede and parsnips, bound by the sort of sauce that speaks of things being cooked long and slow to their essence. On the top, some slices of the leg served riotously pink. The only off-note was some rather bready dumplings.
Price: Meal for two, including wine and service, £90Albert's Table review in full >>

The Times
8 January
Giles Coren enjoys the food at the relaunched Savoy Grill, London WC2, but feels he is of a generation too young to really grasp its relevance
The menu is a vast improvement, to my mind, on what it was before. And when I say "before" I don't mean way back in the day (because I never went) but before the refit, in Gordon Ramsay Holdings' first attempt at it, when the look was more egregiously Euro-bland and the food French-fancier. Now it is all a bit more British, a bit more accessible, and possibly more likely to re-attract the Tory MPs and bum-pinching old duffers on whom the Grill used to rely. Most importantly of all, there is a lot of grilled food now available at the Grill, and not just the usuals but also Herdwick mutton cutlets, pork T-bone, roe chop and a mixed veal grill. The sort of stuff I would return for again and again without question if the sense did not linger that this place simply isn't for me or for anyone of my generation. The most baffling thing of all is the decision to decorate the walls with cheesy photographs of Hollywood stars of the past. Directly opposite me, for example, was that one of Humphrey Bogart staring down Marilyn Monroe's front while Lauren Bacall looks askance. It's the sort of thing you'd have expected to see on the wall of a high street trattoria in 1970s Wimbledon. A bizarrely "doors to manual" touch for a place with the Savoy's reputation.
Score: 6/10
Price: £120 for two, not counting booze.
Savoy Grill review in full >>

The Sunday Times
9 January
AA Gill is pleasantly surprised by old favourites at Chinese restaurant Hakkasan's second outpost in Mayfair, London W1
The menu is still dauntingly long: the thought of Chinese menus can keep me awake at night. The stress of ordering. Everybody on our table said, please, you choose. Happily, it's one of the Blonde's great skills. She ordered everything. We started with salt-and-pepper squid, soft-shell crab, stir-fry Chilean sea bass - familiar dishes that were all quite unexpected. The squid was bright and crisp and came with a scarlet sauce; the soft-shell crabs were hot and crunchy and had a chaff of chilli and curry leaves. I had the best hot-and-sour soup I've eaten in this country. I'm particularly partial to hot-and-sour soup: I lived on it for one winter in New York in the 1970s. The sea bass was spectacular: this is a great fish. It's not a bass, and it's not Chilean. Rating: 4/5
Price: £425 for seven people, two moderate bottles of wine, a carafe of sake and two pots of teaHakkasan Mayfair review in full >>

The Independent
8 January
Tracey Macleod finds potential in the food at Peter Gordon's latest restaurant Kopapa, London WC2, but says there's something distinctly studenty and no-frills about it
To list the ingredients of everything we tried would consume the rest of my allotted word count, so in summary, our meal supplied many vivid, original moments, while never quite coming together as a dining experience. Highlights included the inevitable laksa - smoked coconut and tamarind - which flooded the palate with successive waves of flavour: sour, smoky then chilli hot; a welcome reminder of the Sugar Club cookbook-inspired laksa fever that gripped fashionable dinner tables in the late 1990s. Equally punchy was the partnership of smoked Dutch eel, in a sweet, mirin-style dressing, with cold green tea noodles. It was only with some effort that we managed to stretch our evening out to a full-length dinner, so keen were the young waiters to hurry us through our meal. Perhaps "Kopapa" is Maori for "get a bloody move on". The rhythms of the place seem set for a rushed pre-theatre meal, and there's something distinctly studenty and no-frills about it - with no cloakroom, we had to share our small table with a mound of coats and Christmas shopping.
Rating: Food 4/5; Ambience 2/5; Service 3/5
Price Around £50 per head for three courses including wine and service
Kopapa review in full >>

The Independent on Sunday
9 January
Amol Rajan reviews Pot Kiln Frilsham, near Yattendon, Berkshire, a charming inn that offers understated but rigorous attention to detail
Boastful taxidermy aside - mounted deer stalk two walls - the interior is simple and confident. Low ceilings, pine tables and peachy orange walls make for a cosy main room. Stemless Riedel wine glasses and designer silverware convey an understated but rigorous attention to detail. As does the menu, which is short, gamey and autumnal. At £15.95, the sharing platter is £2 too much, not least because it has two significant flaws: the small portions of smoked grouse breast have a strong flavour but are too dry; and, more inexcusably, the rabbit-and-thyme croquettes are closer to lukewarm than piping hot. Too close, that is - and the thyme is so subdued as to seem irrelevant. Elsewhere on the platter, a ham-hock-and-sage terrine is fabulously biteable, and goes well with a coarse mustard mayo. The spiced apple-and-pear purée is smooth and full-bodied. But the highlight is a superbly griddled ox tongue - smoky in places, and oozing sweet meaty flavour.
Rating: 7/10
Price: Meal for two with six glasses of wine, £130 including dessert and cheese
Pot Kiln Frilsham review in full >>

The Sunday Telegraph
9 January
Zoe Williams says the food at healthy fast food chain Leon is wholesome and moreish if you ignore all that alfalfa, brown rice and quinoa
I had the Leon Gobi (£5.60), which I wolfed. It sounds so unindulgent - sweet potato, cauliflower and coconut milk - but it was unputdownable. On balance, I preferred it to C's, but then he wouldn't give me very much so I can't stake my life on that opinion. He had a cranberry and pecan flapjack (£2.15). ‘I'm no flapjack expert,' he said, making a rare admission. ‘But it's very nice.' I had a lemon and ginger crunch (£2.15), and tried to work out how they did this: I've decided (and I might be wrong) it was crushed ginger nuts, mixed with bits of stem ginger, with a top layer of lemon sponge, something between a cheesecake and a Bakewell tart. If this is too much information, you just need to know it was extremely good. I take the healthy schtick with a pinch of heart-disease, sorry, salt. The main cause of over-eating, in my life at least, is things being delicious. So Leon isn't healthy for me at all. But its other goal - a new standard of excellence in fast food - it achieves effortlessly. Convenience usually tastes of compromise; here it doesn't. It's a bit of a revolution, brown rice notwithstanding.
Rating: 8.5/10
Price: £7.90 for two courses
Leon review in full >>

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