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

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

The Sunday Times
17 July
AA Gill says the most memorable, indeed unforgettable, thing about Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar at the Corinthia hotel, London SW1, is not the food but the prices
For main course, the editrix had chicken, which she said was so chicken it had run off and left a magpie in its place. Nothing to write home about, or indeed, write to you about. My rack of lamb came with fregola, a sort of Sardinian couscous, and chick peas. The peas only just made it to the plural: there weren't enough to play a game of jacks. The lamb was boring. So, all in all, not very good, in a room wanting atmosphere, with food that had a higher opinion of itself on the plate than it could sustain in the mouth. What did make it memorable, indeed, unforgettable, were the prices. This is one of the most staggeringly expensive restaurants in London. In terms of value, it may well be peerless. The mixed seafood crudo was £18 on the menu, though I see from the bill I was actually charged £20. The crispy squid was 13 squid: that would have been four, and much better, in most Lebanese restaurants. The pasta was £18. The lamb and five chick peas were £24. Three glasses of wine was £36. The bill for two was £189, which is utterly undeserved. The last time I was in north Africa, that would have bought you two Kalashnikovs and enough ammunition for a drive-by market assassination and a wedding celebration.
Rating: 2/5
Price: £189 for two
Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar review in full - available only to Times Online subscribers >>

The Observer
17 July
Scarborough may be down on its luck, but at least you can enjoy a life-affirming meal at Lanterna, says Jay Rayner
This is no anglicised version of Italian, tilting at book-learned ideas. It's the real thing. Although there is a menu, laminated and fake-leather bound, the long recitation of specials makes it clear that it's what's in the market and, most especially at the harbour, that really matters. We are, after all, on one of England's lovelier coasts here. Alessio's spaghetti with a cream-bolstered sauce of velvet crabs is the sort of thing that has you sweeping about the bowl with the pad of your finger. A carpaccio of sea trout, dressed only with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and coarse pepper with, on the side, warm baby plum tomatoes under a heap of a coarse pesto is one of those dishes you inhale rather than eat, it's so light. A huge fillet of sea bass, with perfectly crisp skin, sits pertly on a plate by itself, needing no other adornment. We saw bowls of deep-fried squid going past and a whole grilled baby turbot hanging off the crockery. At the end we had the famed zabaglione which Alessio literally whips up tableside in a shiny copper pan with a bell whisk, and it is the sweetest, lightest, booziest and hence most irresistible of confections. It is one of those classics which has only gone out of fashion because few cooks can be bothered to learn how to make it. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Price: Meal for two, including service: £120Lanterna review in full >>

The Independent
16 July
Tracey Macleod says Daylesford Farmshop and Café nr Kingham, Gloucestershire, is a great showcase for an eco-fabulous lifestyle
Uninspired by the meat dishes, I went for fish - not the obvious choice, on a farm in a landlocked county, but as it turned out, a good one. My main course of pollack, roasted in the wood-fired oven, was the star of our meal, the fish falling into firm, cod-like flakes under its crisp, well-seasoned skin, and served with crushed new potatoes and buttery braised peas. Other dishes were hit and miss. Chilled tomato and fennel soup from the daily specials was fine, even if the fennel was undetectable, and a dessert partnering roast peaches with olive oil and thyme cake was subtle and summery. But a selection of seasonal salads, including a particularly nasty one made with chargrilled courgettes, wet garlic and pine nuts, was over-chilled, and, at £12.95, over-priced. "If you got this in the café at John Lewis, you'd be quite pleased, but it's hardly Ottolenghi," said Sarah, pushing aside a grey, flabby piece of bacon that had lost its moorings in a Caesar salad.
Rating: Food 3/5; Ambience 3/5; Service 4/5
Price: Around £25 a head for three courses, before wine and service
Daylesford Farmshop and Café review in full >>

The Independent on Sunday
17 July
Lisa Markwell is impressed by the perfectly judged menu at Roganic, Simon Rogan's two-year pop up restaurant in London W1
First, a box containing three different bread rolls each is put on the table. A ginormous pat of soft butter whipped with very posh salt is blobbed on to a stone for each of us. It feels a bit try-hard. But Jonathan Cannon and Sandia Chang are a front-of-house double act that manages friendly without faff and after a while it feels so convivial that I stop saying thank you and just beam as each plate is placed with care before me. Rogan signatures are local, humble produce, unusual components and curious greenery. Certainly each of the 10 courses we eat has at least one "eh?" ingredient, be it ox-eye daisy petals (on a chickpea and lavender canapé), mallow (creamed and cubed, with a dainty crab and squid dish), chenopodiums (leaves wilted like spinach with earthy hogget) or cicely (an intense herbal plant to flavour ice-cream). Then there's the trickery: onion ashes, sourdough paper, chicken salt, strawberry glass. See what I mean about not being able to list everything? One stand-out dish is Kentish seawater-cured mackerel with Regent's Park elderflower honey, broccoli - dehydrated and puréed - and shallots, which is a triumph of textures and flavours that plays on the tongue.
Rating: 9/10
Price: £55 each for six courses, £80 for 10, plus drinks
Roganic review in full >>

The Sunday Telegraph
17 July
Zoe Williams says while the views may be stunning, not all the food at Mark Sargeant's Rocksalt in Folkestone, Kent, is impressive
We sat down opposite the sea, with a perfect half-moon of rainbow thrown in. ‘It's all mud at low tide,' said a lugubrious R. He had the crab with harissa and toast (£7.50). I had the salt-coley brandade (£6.50). The crab was very fresh; it could hardly have avoided freshness, the spot where the fishermen land being bang outside the window. But the harissa dressing was underpowered - really more of a pink hue than a flavour - and could dearly have used some seasoning and a squeeze of lemon. My brandade was disappointing for the same reasons. The coley may have claimed to be salted, but it was not salted enough. The overall effect was just fish mashed into potato, not unlike a fishcake, only instead of being seasoned and shaped into a cake, it was just splodged into an enamel dish. Some chives in the mix didn't amount to fireworks. R's next order, the breaded sole fingers (£14.50), arrived in the deep-fried spine of a flatfish, artfully curled like a banana leaf; there's no shortage of style.
Rating: 6/10
Price: Three courses: £25.12
Rocksalt review in full >>

The London Metro
13 July
Marina O'Loughlin says Nuno Mendes's Corner Room offers the chance to experience what would otherwise be known as haute cuisine in pleasingly offbeat, informal surroundings
The menu changes regularly - even weekly, I think. So each time you go you can encounter something new. The dishes appear far less convoluted than those at Viajante - there's a lot less prodding the plate, going ‘what the heck is that?' - but they're no less sophisticated. One starter, gnomically titled ‘mackerel and watermelon', delivers raw fish teased into a disc, a scattering of deliciously refreshing rhubarb granita and what looks and feels like raw ham or tuna. I do that prodding thing, eventually determining that it's actually watermelon: waterbathed and grilled, I'd hazard. It's the kind of thing that makes you squeal with delighted astonishment.

Another winner is Ibérico pork pluma, unctuously marbled pork flank from between the shoulder and the loin (recherché cuts of black leg pork are this season's hottest meaty trend). It's served fashionably pink on a bed of ‘Portuguese bread pudding', a mound of buttery, almost truffley breadcrumbs, like a luxury version of the Spanish migas. Tiny carrots are so flawless they look faux but they're sweet and real.
Rating: 4/5
Price: A meal for two with wine, water and tip costs about £75
Corner Room review in full >>

The London Evening Standard
14 July
Galoupet, the first London restaurant by the owners of the Chateau du Galoupet vineyard in the South of France, brings a touch of Provence to Knightsbridge, says Fay Maschler

The menu is not divided into courses but some dishes come in two sizes. Mackerel, purple potatoes, pistachio, mint, Diamante citron was how the first course I chose was described - a sort of prose poem. It was suitably delicious but even better was octopus, fennel, kohlrabi, miso, where the fermentation of the last ingredient gave the cephalopod an unaccustomed umami kick. The recommended glass of Insolia IGT Feudo di Butera 2010 with the mackerel was an inspired pairing, that Sicilian grape variety cantankerous enough to deal with - and flatter - the lemon. These are not the sorts of assemblies that happily marry with bread and butter and the dip of fennel purée interspersed with scoops of curd and apple chutney served with a pastry-like olive oil crisp bread was a much more interesting stand-in. With this I drank Château Galoupet Tibur Rose 2009 - it seemed only polite - to which the tricky Tibouren grape gives the apricot colour of an early dawn and a complete absence of sweetie flavour. Chilli pork "rib-eye", cucumber, coriander, lime was served as spice-encrusted pieces of meat in the eye of a storm of cucumber salad.
Rating: 4/5
Price: A meal for two with wine, about £90
Galoupet review in full >>

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