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

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

The Sunday Times
24 July 2011
AA Gill finally gets round to visiting L'Anima to discover it's a horrid restaurant that serves good food charmingly and is a lot better than the customers deserve
The menu is smart Italian. Burrata with smoked aubergine and onion, grilled octopus, courgette flowers stuffed with mozzarella. There's some exotic pasta, and main courses that concentrate on identifiable and meaty ingredients: pig, rabbit, lamb, beef, turbot. We start with crab in tomato water. The crab was well picked. The tomato water wasn't the clear, plain, intense cool broth I expected. It was more of a passata. Still, very good. A shrimp with tuna mayonnaise and bottarga is a clever and turbo-driven reconstruction of a prawn cocktail. Spicy tuna with avocado was a classic City dish, but not an Italian one. Expensive baby food. Wild mushroom lasagne with a crisp, blow-torched lid looked like a prosthetic from a horror movie. There is no way to make lasagne elegant. This was just well constructed, the brûlée topping not enough to lift it out of the nursery. But then, that's where many of the locals are happiest eating.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Price: Main courses about £25, starters £16
L'Animna review in full - available only to Times Online subscribers >>

The Observer
Sunday 24 July
Jay Rayner travels to the World's End pub in Brighton in his search for the perfect BBQ - and finds it at the hands of chef John Hargate
What Hargate is serving at the World's End is dirty food, and I mean that in a very good way. The menu is long - a lot of burgers and sandwiches - but at its heart is the product of the smoke pits, which work hour after hour from a unit nearby. The ribs are listed as "meaty", and they aren't joking. These are proper, thick-cut numbers, but with the tinge of pink all the way through that you only get from long contact with smoke. They are tender, but not so that they fall away from the bone. And they are properly sauced, in the sticky Texas style. A plate of those is a six-napkin job at least. At £11.50 they are pretty much the most expensive thing on the menu. Sandwiches are about £6, sides about half that. An armadillo egg - a cream-cheese stuffed jalapeño, wrapped in spiced sausage meat and then held together with bacon, the whole roasted to a crisp shell - is apparently about as close as Texas gets to a delicacy, and is outrageously moreish. My obsessive search is over. Real barbecue has been found. All is right with the world.
Meal for two, including wine and service, £45World's End review in full >>

The Sunday Telegraph
24 July 2011
The Gilbert Scott in St Pancras Renaissance hotel has taken the trend for rediscovering English classics and rendered it in quite a stodgy, unimaginative way, writes Zoe Williams
I had the mushroom on "sippets" (£8), which - I think you'll like this - is an Elizabethan word for "small bits of something". In this case that something was bone marrow, and it was the most defiant subversion of a vegetarian staple I've yet encountered. If you think you know mushrooms on toast, you really have no idea until you've tried it studded with marrow. Rich in a way that made your head spin rather than put you off, the slipperiness of the mushroom worked dazzlingly well against the discrete silkiness of the bone marrow. The toast was nice, too. B had the corned-beef hash (£8.50) and was under-wowed. The texture was too full of itself, almost bouncy; we both like corned beef a bit crumbly. The seasoning was too shy, so that, between the pickled cucumber and the mustard mayonnaise, the hash itself lacked impact. His "tweed kettle" (£16.50) also sounded more interesting than it was: a simple, well-handled, fresh but pretty economical piece of sea trout, with a herby coating that was too high on the nutmeg for my liking and too granular for his.
Rating: 6/10
Price: Three courses, £36.25
The Gilbert Scott review in full >>

The Daily Telegraph
19 July
After Heston Blumenthal's Dinner, Matthew Norman finds Jason Atherton's Pollen Street Social the second best opening of the year so far
Atherton, formerly of Ramsay's Maze, is not merely a sensational technical cook, he is one of those culinary alchemists who can transform what looks like base pretension on the page into solid gold in the mouth. Two of the quartet of Colchester oysters were served hot in their shells, and two were represented by oyster ice-cream. The hot ones, cooked in a piquant Japanese stock, were great. But the ice-cream, which on arrival I feared might cause him a stroke, was sublime in its sharp, saline, zingy purity of flavour. "That," he said, "is a taste sensation." So was my escabeche of quail, glazed in a subtle and savoury barbecue marinade and served with a medley of crushed nuts and seeds, tiny pickled onions and girolle mushrooms and a gloriously delicate chicken liver cream on thin, crunchy toast. We finished by sharing a portion of tiramisu with a hot mocha-chocolate sauce. While every hyper-calorific mouthful must have shortened our lives by three months, it was worth it for one of the finest puds I've tasted.
Telegraph rating: 9/10
Price: Three courses with wine and coffee, £65-£75 per head
Pollen Street Social review in full >>

The Independent
23 July 2011
John Walsh finds Pebble Beach in Hampshire's Barton-on-Sea with its ex-Chewton Glen chef and wonderful terrace, well worth a detour
The menu features lots of shellfish, "Lighter Options" for those who want fish and chips or sole goujons, vegetarian options, half a dozen chargrill specials. Angie's gravadlax was cured to a phenomenally silken texture, liberally Jackson-Pollocked with scribbles of tarragon cream accompanied by triangles of toast. My scallops and tiger prawns came à la nage, that is, poached in a court bouillon, with the liquid included as a soup. The prawns were perfect, tightly al dente and full of flavour, the scallops a little spongey (I don't think poaching scallops is a terrific idea) and the julienne of celery, carrots and tomatoes floated blissfully in the chardonnay broth. Main course of stir-fried lobster tempura was almost perfect. The stir-fried vegetables were soy-drenched but delicious. The shellfish itself was faultless. The batter, however, was too hefty, - it clutched around the lobster like a soft, thick cardigan. My pan-fried duck breast was astonishing, two thick tranches roasted and basted until the skin shone with umami moistness. They sat like twin behemoths amid a multitude of broad beans, peas, carrots, courgettes and dauphinoise potatoes with a cheese crust. Much work had gone into the sauce - a reduction of chicken and vegetable stock, with caramel, vinegar and blackcurrants.
Rating: Food 3/5, Ambience 5/5, Service 2/5
Price: About £110 for two, with wine
Pebble Beach review in full >>

Independent on Sunday
24 July 2011
Amol Rajan finds the food in Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon, is undeniably Michelin-worthy but the prices are extortionate and ambience is abysmal
The food is obviously outstanding, but the ambience is abysmal. We are led to a boxy room with burgundy walls overlooking a patio area. It is staid, oppressive and stuck in the 1990s. The lunch menu - £37 for two courses, or £47.50 for three - is a series of excellent dishes, but annoyingly there are only three options with each course. The starters are salad of celeriac with celeriac purée, soy, and a wonderful truffle vinaigrette; a Cornish mackerel with fennel salad; and a terrine of chicken with truffle and leek salad. Among the mains there is a wild-mushroom raviolo with perfect poached quails' eggs and mushroom velouté (a rich white sauce thickened with cream or egg yolk); a lemon sole with ragout of asparagus, broad beans and a white-wine and tarragon sauce; and, best of all, squab of pigeon with pea purée, wild garlic and a Madeira sauce. It's all Michelin-worthy - but the wine list, too, is extortionate. I'm sure that for diners who don't feel the pinch when settling the bill, this is an excellent way to waste money.
Rating: 7/10
Price: £350 for four, including wine
Gidleigh Park review in full >>

The Metro, London
19 July 2011
Marina O'Loughlin finds that tapas bar José's real excitement comes from its daily specials board - but its tiny dining room won't please everyone
As with every Spanish tapas bar worth its salt, the real excitement comes from the daily specials board. There might be calamari alla plancha marinated in tomato and Txakoli vinegar (heavenly, spritzy, young Basque wine), or sea bass with blood orange, or plancha-ed razor clams. Or rare-grilled pluma - a fatty cut of Ibérico pork from between the top loin and the presa. This is one of those rare things, a genuine foodie thrill, tasting like an unholy but entirely successful alliance between finest beef rump and silky, nutty, acorn-fed pig. Pizarro buys his prize-winning pork and ham from Manuel Maldonado in Extremadura, western Spain, (producer of the world's costliest ham); he's seen the pigs romping about their wild open dehesa. Hey, he's almost a close pal to the pigs, which makes eating them almost a duty, surely?
Rating: 4/5
Price: A meal for two with drinks costs anything from £40 to £100
José review in full >>

London Evening Standard
21 July 2011
Fay Maschler follows Maria Elia to Joe's in South Kensington to find the influence of Adrià and Arzak waning
"Textures" of vegetables, where one ingredient provides the starting point for inventively varied treatments, have become her hallmark. Textures of tomatoes was offered on one day, textures of peas on another. There is always a fish of the day and a pulse/grain of the day. A lack of cooking precision is more easily forgiven when the meal price is £15/17 for two/three courses as can be enjoyed at lunchtime at Joe's. It is the meal that accounts for the three-star rating of this review. With a choice of two dishes in each course, the winner was he who started with an incredibly subtle soup of early Cornish potatoes with cavolo nero and lemon oil, followed by chargrilled glistening sardines with panzanella salad and completed with apricot fool. Thai-style squid salad with buckwheat noodles woven in preceding pasta rags (aka maltagliati) served with wide ribbons of courgettes, chilli and lemon was not quite so diverting or well balanced but nevertheless, speaking as a lady, a good lunch. The little rosewater-flavoured meringue that is served with coffee supplied my "dessert".
Rating: 3/5
Price: A la carte, a meal for two with wine, about £98 including service
Joe's review in full >>

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