Other than the up-itself front-of-house service, Bob Granleese says there's very little resemblance to Paris at French bistro 63 Degrees in Manchester Oh well, at these prices - starters are £6.50-£12.80, mains £13-£25, puds £6-£8 - the cooking proper had to be decent, right? "Frogs' legs with cress cream" - the website has a shot of two sets of plump cuisses beside a dinky, watercress-green pond - was the meat from one-and-maybe-a-half legs (I'm being generous here, even if they weren't), impaled on a wooden skewer not much bigger than a toothpick and served in an over-salted cream. For £7.80! Pea cream with prawn wasn't much better: the cream (you may sense a theme emerging) was fridge-cold bland, as was the big saffron prawn perched on the edge of the glass, as if trying to escape. I knew how it felt. Ten minutes passed, then 10 more, before the waiter deigned to clear the table, so we made our own entertainment with a bottle of fruity M de Minuty rosé. Maybe the kitchen was building up to the big reveal, because then we found out all we never needed to know about that name, 63 Degrees. I'll let the website explain: "Cooked long and low at 63°, poultry tastes like you've never tasted it before, incomparably tender and full of unforgettable flavours." They're not wrong there: the signature dish chicken was unforgettably flavour-free.
Price: Meal for two with drinks, around £110.63 Degrees review in full >>
Giles Coren says the Olympic Breakfast at Little Chef, East Sussex, is "completely shite"
The bacon has that telltale flaky second skin and two-tone discolouration that suggest it has been cooked some time before (possibly not even here) and then reheated on a dry griddle. Ditto the smooth, bready sausage with its plasticcy sheath of a skin. The baked beans are in a small ramekin and have been microwaved, so are hard and sad though piping hot. The sauté potatoes, of which there are perhaps a kilo, are machine-sliced rounds of frozen nothing. The half tomato has been swiftly griddled cold from the fridge so is charred but raw, the miserable mushroom a floppy prepuce smelling of the bottom of the laundry basket in the men's changing room at the Velodrome. It might have done a thousand laps in Sir Chris Hoy's Lycra pants, wedged between his butt and the seat to keep the knightly perineum from chafing. For 99p extra I secure a slice of black pudding "from Ramsay of Carluke". I do not know what Ramsay of Carluke was using it for before - possibly a beer mat, a piano coaster or an insole - but it is made of indestructible stuff. I managed to carve off a bite-sized chunk and get it in my mouth, but I am still chewing it now, ten days later.
Cooking: 0; Decor: 10; Sustainability: 7; Score: 5.66
Price: £8.48Little Chef review in full >>
The Sunday Times
AA Gill scores Brasserie Zédel, London W1, the latest venture from Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, a perfect five
The menu is classically French from 30 years ago - egg mayonnaise, céleri rémoulade, frisée salad with lardons, andouillette, choucroute. But here's the thing, here's the big idea: there's a fixed menu. Two courses for £8.75, three for £11.25; last week that was a good, fresh carottes râpées, steak haché with pepper sauce and chips, coffee and a little sweet. For £19.75 there's a slightly grander menu that comes with a glass of wine; there is wine for £3 a verre, £5.70 a pichet, 16 quid the bottle. The plats du jour are poulet basquaise, blanquette de veau, marmite de poissons and an Indian curry, which is actually a classic French café dish. I've eaten here three or four times now, and everything is well made and the portions are nicely judged - it never feels meagre. Maybe I'm biased, because of the memories this food evokes - there is no intellectual defence against the Proustian reverie that is the secret ingredient on the end of your fork. What I truly love about Zédel, though, is the desire to make a grand and elegant dining room that serves the classic canon of European epicureanism to working people in a setting that doesn't just make them feel important for an hour, but shows them they are important always. Half the tables are kept for people walking in from the street, so I've eaten with groups of local shop-workers, some astonished tourists, film folk and publishing people, and at the next table to Melvyn Bragg.
Score: 5/5Brasserie Zedel review in full >>The Independent on Sunday
Lisa Markwell gets to forage for her dinner and says Gary Goldie at Ardanaiseig Hotel, Kilchrenan by Taynuilt, Argyll, is a real talent
If there was any doubt about the creativity at work, it is dispelled by the pre-dinner snack with drinks. "Chicken of the woods" masala with a wild garlic naan and a shot glass of blonde beer gets our juices flowing. Little pine-flavoured rolls and an Oban Bay scallop with sea vegetables and caviar keep the excitement going as we order wine (a good list, with a smart by-the-glass selection). And we're off: a deep-orange duck-egg yolk comes with smoked bacon and girolles (I hadn't dared to admit to Goldie earlier that I'm not, well, wild about mushrooms, but these are splendid - woody and meaty with buttery juices). Then a Tiree-lobster broth, with shaved pignuts, hogweed, sweet cicely and wild pea. This is rich and intense, the shaved root adding an accent of woodiness. And it's a very, very pretty plate of food, too. Raising my eyes from the dish briefly, I should mention that the dining-room looks down over the lawns to the loch, with its ultra-romantic boathouse for two, and a little boat moored, ready to carry you over to the tiny islands in the middle. The honeymooning couple in the corner practically float into dinner on a cloud of happiness.
Price: Set dinner £50 per head, not including wineArdanaiseig review in full >>
The London Evening Standard
Fay Maschler says Rita's Bar & Dining serves some tremendously of the moment "junk re-imagined" in the heart of Dalston, London N16
The first time I ate there - following the bad evening when we turned up only to be told that no food was being served - coincided with the birthday party of Grace Welch (sister of Florence + the Machine). We joined in thanks to a mutual friend being part of it and enjoyed ethereal macaroni cheese, clever salad made with Little Gem, slow-roasted tomatoes and black pudding "breadcrumbs", down-home baked haricot beans with pulled pork and duck hearts topped with crunchy crumbs and the most amazingly fine Southern fried chicken (usually offered as fried chicken roll packed into a brown paper bag). Buttermilk is involved in the marinade and there is a protocol, I believe, of soaking and flouring, soaking and flouring, plus the involvement of garlic and various spices including cayenne pepper, with a result that Colonel Sanders could only dream about.
Rating: 4/5Rita's Bar & Dining review in full >>
By Kerstin Kühn
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