Jay Rayner says 2011 Acorn winner Paul Foster's cooking at Tuddenham Mill in Suffolk is very much worth travelling for
And so to Tuddenham Mill, a restaurant in a smart Suffolk boutique hotel, which looks like a slice of chocolate-box England, but where the food is so firmly on the gastronomic cutting edge you could slice your hand off on it. I mean that in a good way. It's very easy to be different. Timmy Mallet was different, and that right there is an argument for involuntary euthanasia. (Wouldn't you have loved someone to put him out of our misery?) It's much harder to be good at being different and Paul Foster, who may well be one of the best young chefs you've never heard of, is doing different very well indeed. His ideas are controlled. His flavour combinations make sense. The smartest bits of kitchen kit are used not simply because he's got a new toy but to add something. On top of this is a more than passing interest in the agenda set by Noma, the famed Danish restaurant which is big on the foraging of very local ingredients. If you want a plate of food that shouts 2011, which is the word "now" fashioned from calories, go to Tuddenham Mill.
Price: Meal for two, including wine and service, £120Tuddenham Mill review in full >>
The Independent on Saturday
Tracey MacLeod is impressed with Kateh, a new Persian restaurant on one of the loveliest canal-side streets in leafy Little Venice, London W8
Mains are divided into "Indo Persian grills" - kebabs, basically - "fish", and "stews", and terrific though the grilled meats were, it was the slow-cooked dishes which won our hearts. Barbary duck leg, cooked in a glossy stew of ground walnuts and pomegranate juice, and finished with lime juice and pomegranate seeds, was as good as it sounds. The sour-sweet notes of tamarind and pomegranate also gave an unexpected blast of flavour to a fillet of pan-fried cod, in an adapted version of the traditional cod stew from Southern Iran. A shared platter of kebabs - minced veal, lamb and baby chicken - were all made with superior quality meat. Kateh is named after a method of preparing rice, and given the fetishisation of rice cooking in Iran, we were a bit disappointed that several of the mains came with the same side dish of plain basmati jeujed up with a bit of saffron and butter. But the bread - thin, round flatbreads, sprinkled with sesame seeds - was fresh and good - almost as good as you get in those homelier Iranian restaurants which bake it in their own clay ovens.
Rating: Food 4/5; Ambience 3/5; Service 2/5
Price: About £35 a head with wineKateh review in full >>
The Sunday Telegraph
Zoe Williams can stand the heat at Nando's and says the chain's kitchen really knows how to cook chicken
Getting into the spirit of the so-hot-it-hurts reputation of the chilli, I went for the 10-wing platter roulette (£8.95). The sting was taken out of the "roulette" element by the fact that I didn't find the hottest heat all that hot. If anything, the game of luck and chance was in avoiding the mildest flavour, which, trying to be the crowd-pleaser, was a bit too sweet and citric for my liking. Overall, though, it was great: messy, chewy, zingy, characterful… Wings, naturally, are fiddly, but these were at the fleshiest end of the genre. My sister had the medium-hot chicken-breast wrap (£9.60) and, again, it bore the hallmarks of a kitchen that does nothing but chicken, that knows the bird inside out, that hasn't dried out a bit of poultry since a freak lapse of concentration in 1995. It was just right - perfectly moist, the flavour never buried by the sauce, and the sauce a good texture. I'm loath to call it home-made-ish, because it's as industrialised as stainless steel, but it doesn't have that glutinous sheen that is the off-putting common element of the mass-produced sauce.
Price: Three courses £14.70Nando's review in full >>
Giles Coren says that while small and pokey and located in loathsome Leicester Square, the St John Hotel, London WC2, is precise and gorgeous a manifestation of Fergus Henderson's beautiful philosophy
And we had a snails, bacon and lovage dish that was a dreamy English garden two fingers to escargots à la bourguignonne. One or two of our langoustines were maybe a little overdone, but it is not an exact science (I'd always err the other way, to the extent that I really prefer them raw, even alive) and the mayonnaise was spot-on to the nanodrop. I didn't have the Old Spot chop because I've just taken delivery of part of a pig from Mary Holbrook myself (who I believe supplies St John on occasion) and so had truly flabbergasting lamb sweetbreads with fat, clean butter beans and a lovely mild mulch of wild garlic, with some good Jersey Royals on the side. Esther had a marvellous piece of hake with shrimp and cracking sourdough croutons, and then a slice of ginger loaf with cider sauce and ice cream. Dishes of grilled rabbit and suckling pig that I saw going by would be reason enough to return, if I were returning to Leicester Square any time soon, which I'm not.
Price: £50/head sans grogSt John Hotel review in full - available only to Times online subscribers >>
The Sunday Times
AA Gill says the Gilbert Scott, the new restaurant from Marcus Wareing, is depressing and like eating a home-economics history project
For main course, she bravely went for a Suffolk stew of mutton meatballs, anchovy and pearl barley. In the subcontinent, mutton is always a euphemism for goat. Here, I suspect, it was hogget. With the first mouthful, she pulled a face of Bollywood disgust. Sheep more than a year old has a distinctively round and lingering flavour. The anchovy should add a salty bottom note and a richness that isn't necessarily identifiable. But here the fishiness was strident and discordant, and it gave the dish the unmistakable flavour of cat food. Upmarket cat food, the sort of gourmet pussy din-dins that's supposed to make moggies love you. Still, not really what you want for lunch. And, just to gently correct the ladies next door, anchovy essence wasn't invented by Escoffier, it's ancient Greek. A concoction called garum, or liquamen: fish guts, salted and fermented, the most popular condiment of the classic world, that must have tasted something like the hooker's simile of wet gentleman's relish.
Price: £60 plus drinksGilbert Scott review in full - available only to Times online subscribers >>
The London Metro
Marina O'Loughlin says the London outpost of Bill's Produce, London WC2, is a big, fat fake operation that's dictated by the spreadsheet
Most of what we eat is good enough. Decent, if improperly trimmed asparagus with fine, buttery hollandaise; anodyne tuna cut into perfectly symmetrical strips and given character with sesame oil, coriander and chilli. A Titchmarsh of a burger: by no means unpleasant but entirely unmemorable. There's a cloying, vanilla-rich cheesecake that I leave half of - and I've never been known to abandon a cheesecake. The fish finger sandwich is fine but legendary is something of a galloping overstatement. Staggeringly bad, however, is a chicken and chorizo stew. It takes some effort to combine undercooked tomato and paprika with overcooked, bland chicken breast and flabby, dull sausage. "Student food," scoffs the pal. There's nothing farm-y about the place now: no earthy potatoes, little evidence of seasonality or locality; nothing on those blackboards ever seems to be scored out. People who happily pile into Zizzi and Café Rouge will find Bill's utterly charming. Hideous snob? Me? Absolutely. But I'd happily eat in the shonkiest East End kebab joint if the food is great and not dictated by the spreadsheet.
Bill's Produce review in full >>
The London Evening Standard
David Sexton says Pizza East in Notting Hill, London W11, the second outpost of the trendy Soho House Group-owned pizza restaurant, is worth the trek
There's a short list of wood-oven cooked, non-pizza options - pork belly, chicken, beef, salmon - but the pizzas are the business. Although the bases are distinctively bready, nothing like pizzas as sold on the street in Naples, they're none the worse for that, it being a particularly good bread, deep-flavoured, crisped on the edges, pleasingly elastic in the middle. A few toppings not to be found in Shoreditch have been introduced here, including one starring Portobello mushrooms, arf arf. Courgette flower, ricotta, marjoram (£9) was light and excessively bland - "a girl's pizza", my companion, a girl, reckoned. Veal meatballs, prosciutto, cream, sage (£11) is a heck of a plateful for the money, a ridiculously luxurious combination: the meatballs meltingly tender and strongly herbed, the prosciutto thoroughly crisped for another texture, the creamy sauce sharpened just enough to save it all from surfeit. These are pizzas a long way from home but making the most of their freedom.
Price: About £70 for twoPizza East review in full >>