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

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

The Guardian
26 March
Get past the terrible name of Yak Yeti Yak in Bath and the less than alluring location beneath a hair salon, and you'll find some really rather wonderful Nepalese cooking, says John Lanchester
Look twice, though, and you notice there are quite a few happy customers already ensconced in Yak Yeti Yak. (Terrible name. I suppose it's a pun on yakkety-yak, but still - it combines two things you don't want to eat, one of which doesn't exist.) It's clearly a big success locally, and is bigger than it looks, with several rooms, a courtyard and a space for traditional seating at low tables with cushions on the floor. The vegetable dishes were great: musurko dhal - made with red lentils, showed a liberal use of garlic and, I suspect, quite a bit of ghee - had that nicely layered sense of many different spices working in harmony. Chamsur sag was spinach and watercress, stir-fried with fresh herbs and cooked so the veg still had some bite rather than being mushily indistinct - maybe some of that Sino-Tibetan influence was at work there. All in all, the balance of the cooking was just right. I could tell because I wasn't still awake at three in the morning hallucinating, which is what sometimes happens after I've eaten a meal from a kitchen that is secretly caning the ghee.
Price: Meal with drinks and service, about £30 a head.Yak Yeti Yak review in full >>

The Observer
27 March
Despite its aristocratic heritage, the otherwise lovely Devonshire Arms in Beeley, Derbyshire, makes a right royal mess of dinner, says Jay RaynerTake a special listed as "Crispy hand-dived Scottish sea scallops, sweetcorn purée, white asparagus, roasted apple purée, cinnamon toast, cafe latte". Exhausting, isn't it? Let's ignore the fact that telling us they come from the sea is redundant, given they are unlikely to have come from the stream out back. Or that they weren't at all "crispy". The other ingredients are tooth-achingly sweet. It needed acidity and didn't get it. It read cacophonously and ate like it. The little rounds of cinnamon toast were not a wonderful thing. The only positive: I could not detect the coffee. Another special of "Chinese style" salt and pepper squid, would have been taken as an insult by a genuine Chinese kitchen. It was rubbery and also strangely sweet. Cold rings of a squid "sausage" stuffed with minced mussels then sliced and sprinkled with sour berries was just plain odd.
Price: Meal for two, including wine and service, £100Devonshire Arms review in full >>

The Independent
26 March
John Walsh is very impressed with the seasonal and locally sourced food at the Harrow at Little Bedwyn near Marlborough, Wiltshire
It took no time to discover that the Jones's strength is their devotion to freshness of ingredients and heftiness of flavours. The owners' relationships with local breeders and suppliers seem intense - you get the feeling that the people from Kelmscott, the local pork butchers (whose fillets, faggots and bellies appear together on a single dish) live in the kitchen. The homemade bread reeks of thyme. A jar of what seemed to be almonds were wild garlic cloves, boiled and pickled until they tasted like macadamia nuts. An amuse of beetroot and Roquefort was simply miraculous, the cheese disappearing inside the beetroot soup, to give it a spectral, internal richness. Angie's ceviche of sea bass, langoustine and scallops sang on the tongue, the crayfish so plump, the lime-marinaded bass a dream of sushi. My "seared diver-caught scallops" were the fattest I've ever seen, and, surmounted by their bright orange roes, sat on tiny flecks of chorizo and a pea purée that was enlivened by tiny actual peas. I've had a version of this dish 150,000 times. This was the best.
Rating: Food 5/5; Ambience 4/5; Service 5/5
Price: About £150 for two, with wineThe Harrow at Little Bedwyn review in full >>

The Independent on Sunday
27 March
Amol Rajan is impressed with the short and simple menu at Sutherland House, Southwold, Suffolk

Everything other than the ice-cream is made fresh in the kitchen, there is a devotion to seasonal produce, and many of the groceries hail from a local seven-acre plot. My girlfriend Charlie's roasted quail "ballontine" (sic) with confit leg, celeriac and "sort" (sic) boiled quail's egg (£7) is a complex but worthy starter. My pan-seared Scottish scallops (£7.50) are an ideal vessel for a spiced apple chutney, which tastes very much of spring, but a salty black pudding, very good in its own right, clamours too much for attention, both on the palate and on the plate. A superb monkfish wrapped in Parma ham (£18), with herbful crushed potatoes that he should be teaching at The Swan, is so muscular it needs a strong counter-balance, which is duly provided by cauliflower florets and ham hock. But the dish of the night is a slow-braised belly of Blythburgh pork, from a few miles away (£18). A magnificent apple fondant brings out the best of the meat, and our old friend the black pudding returns too, this time a bold supplement rather than an angry impostor.
Rating: 8.5/10
Price: About £90 for two, including drinksSutherland House review in full >>

The Times
26 March
Giles Coren enjoys the cooking - and the wine - at Cassis, London SW3, a Provencal restaurant which is the latest venture from Marlon Abela's MARC groupFrom a list of "petites bouchées" we had slices of bonsai pissaladière, every bit as ballsy with anchovy and onion as fat ones from a bog-standard Niçoise bakery, but here all delicate and crisp; barbajuans, which were fried ravioli, two each of cheese, spinach and chicken liver and exquisitely done, little golden savoury bonbons that made you swoon and roll your eyes; snails in puff pastry (okay, vol-au-vents) that had been flambéd in pastis; a bowl of goat's cheese cream with fig vinegar and piment d'Espelette (an ingredient one didn't used to see much in England, but which is the boom vegetable of 2011, as French restaurants respond to our new-found craving for chilli heat in almost everything); and also Corsican charcuterie, which I have always loved because its core flavours are so much rougher and more rustic than other French meats, so that a very refined-looking ham or sausage explodes in your mouth with chestnut and bonfire smoke, flick knives, hot tar and the scent of the maquis.
Rating: 7/10
Price: £175 for four excluding wineCassis review in full - only available to Times online subscribers >>

The Sunday Times
27 March
AA Gill says the food at Brawn, London E2, is honest and unpretentious but at the same time the kind of cooking that's growing as ubiquitous as Pizza Hut
Brawn is everything we thought it would be and everything it set out to be. The place was packed with happy customers, engrossed in each others' brilliances and availability. It had the roaring atmosphere of a coal-effect gas fire. The food was certainly worth a trip, and the kitchen did well to keep up, but it's best when compiling tapas from cleverly sourced ingredients, less good when it actually has to cook from scratch. The service was harassed but pretty, the sourdough bread was excellent. It would be easy to rack up a 50-quid-a-head bill, but then it would be just as easy to get fed for £30. Brawn is a restaurant that suits the way most people want to eat now: Scandinavianly unpretentious, simple but educated. It knows about food, but isn't a bore about it. It's hard to fault the essence of an honest commitment to good things in a good room, but this meat-heavy menu, with familiar dip-in dishes from summer-holiday destinations and fashionable cookbooks, with its nod to Victorian heartiness, is growing as ubiquitous as Pizza Hut.
Rating: 3/5
Price: £80 for twoBrawn review in full - available only to Times online subscribers >>

The Daily Telegraph
26 March
Carnivores clean up in a land that time forgot after Matthew Norman visited The Huntsman Carvery in Dunchurch
The first thing that struck us about the Hunstman, apart from the saliva-stimulating scent of roasted beef fat, was a blast of nostalgic warmth. From the décor (floral-patterned carpet, scarlet velour banquettes, hunting prints and brass implements on the walls) to a menu frozen in the amber of 1973, this is the restaurant that time forgot. "Mm, I can't decide between the grapefruit and melon cocktail," said my friend, coming over all Dr Frasier Crane as he studied the starters, "and the mackerel pate." "Don't overlook the ‘fresh orange juice'," I chipped in sardonically, playing Niles, "because it says here: ‘Yes, we really do squeeze these juicy oranges ourselves!' ." In the sitcom, this is the point at which their father Martin would lash his sons for being pretentious snobs, crossly reminding them that there is nothing wrong with good, wholesome food. In his absence we let the Huntsman deliver the rebuke by way of its meat. Elegant, having said that, it is not. A merlot served in a tiny, airline-sized bottle would have had the Crane boys dialling 911, and when my knife fell to the floor, our sweet young waiter, Dane, smartly returned it to the table. They say you can lose a Michelin star for that, although the carpet did look spotless.
Rating: 7/10
Price: Three-course meal, with as many returns to the carvery as desired, £21; Sunday lunch; £18.95The Huntsman Carvery review in full >>

The Sunday Telegraph
27 March
Zoe Williams says Opera Tavern, London WC2, serves tapas so good you want to hijack other people's ordersThere was so much going on in every mouthful, and all the flavours were so individual, so characterful, it was like a hip-hop dance-off. Made of food. The salt-marsh lamb with pumpkin gnocchi (£6.50) arrived, and made me regret not ordering more from the meat section. The leg meat was pink, tender and excellent. The marriage with anchovy was timeless and fitting. On our evidence alone I can't say for certain that there are no duds on the menu, but that's what I think. D finished with three pebbly little truffles and a biscotto (£3.50), which dish had a cheerful, southern European nonchalance in its appearance, like a sort of open challenge to French fussiness. The taste was simple and delicious. My panna cotta (£5.35) was fine, but I think their heart (and mine) is with the charcoal grill. Next time I come in I'm having a mini-burger for pudding. I don't care what anyone thinks.
Rating: 9/10
Price: £30 for four dishesOpera Tavern review in full >>

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