John Lanchester finds that Marcus Wareing's The Gilbert Scott lives up to its billing as one of the year's most important London openings
The menu is a thing of beauty: it is full-on retro English. It draws heavily on the food writers of previous centuries - John Nott, Isabella Beeton - and makes a statement about the strength of this grievously underexploited culinary heritage. It does it in the best way: by turning that heritage into things you can eat, such as Dorset mutton balls with lentils, Sussex jugged steak or (my starter) bacon and pork "olives", a delicious forcemeat served with a salad of thinly sliced onions, little gem lettuce and mustard dressing. The other main, "Kentish pigeon in a pot", was gamey and faintly liverish, and came with mushrooms, prunes and a thrillingly deep-flavoured sauce. Check out Mrs Beeton's snow eggs, an English version of îles flottantes with egg white, uncloying "burnt honey" custard, peanuts (inside the egg) and fragments of toffee. It was ridiculously good.
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service, £90
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/reviews/bengal-lancer-253-kentish-town-road-london-2285833.html" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">The Gilbert Scott review in full >>](http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/may/21/gilbert-scott-london-nw1-review)
Manchester Evening News
Miles Platting experiences a hit-and-miss seafood menu at Vermilion, possibly Manchester's most expensively built restaurant, near Manchester City's Eastlands stadium
Step inside and you are transported from this rather dour expanse of east Manchester into a cinematic fantasy which has lost none of its serious wow factor since Vermilion opened in November 2007. We'd turned up especially on a Thursday night when Vermilion shows off its seafood credentials by offering its Taste Of The Sea menu. The complimentary appetisers are a grim, distinctly unappetising, overly-salted mixture of diced prawn and chicken wrapped in banana leaf. Next up were two soups. The tom kha pla salmon was a delicious creamy coconut soup with fresh salmon and mushrooms, flavoured with lemon grass, galangal and coriander. But the tom yam talay "classic" Thai soup was rather tasteless. The finale was a collection of mains which represented the best part of the banquet. The Karahi Jhinga was the nearest thing to a recognisable Bangladeshi dish. With such an extensive and overwhelming menu it make take a few visits before all the real gems are discovered.
Taste of the Sea menu, £9 per person
[Vermilion review in full >>](http://www.citylife.co.uk/news_and_reviews/reviews/10019452_review__vermilion)
Akram Ali's Bengal Lancer in Kentish Town Road, London, is possibly the best curry house in London, says Amol Rajan
We are constantly told that London is the curry capital of the world - but it is in fact exceptionally hard to find decent curry in the capital. Even areas known for their curry houses, such as Brick Lane and Tooting, long ago gave up on proper subcontinental food, and it is mostly a sorry saga. Except, that is, for the exceptions. This menu contains some dishes you might not have tried before. The sublime liver hazri starter (£4.95), for instance, is chopped and fried chicken livers in a spicy, citrus sauce, while the cumin parsnip (£3.95) comes stir-fried with tomato and cucumber. All the usual curries are on offer - it's a long menu - but some specialities have been virtually perfected. A lamb pasanda (£8.95) is beautifully cooked mini fillets in wine and infused with almond and pistachio nuts. Overall, the effect is of a series of superbly executed precision dishes, offered to the customer on the basis that spice, which speaks to every sense and leaves room for more, is a property of food more relished than grease, which tastes of little and bloats the gut. Hurrah for that.
Price: £65 for two including wine
[Bengal Lancer review in full >>
Elaine Lemm is surprised to find celebrity chef James Martin behind the stove at his new restaurant, James Martin's Leeds Kitchen
Less than a week after opening Leeds Kitchen, I did expect to see chef James Martin at his new restaurant but I will admit a little surprise to actually see him cooking. The A2 sized food-one-side-wine-the-other menu looks much like many but the devil of this one is in the detail. The local sourcing is inspirational, a who's who of regional producers and used innovatively at every opportunity. Whitby Crab meets lemon grass, Fortune kippers team up with Welsh rarebit, Paganum chorizo (yes we make chorizo in Yorkshire) supports rock bass, Ampleforth cider spices up a chutney and so on. Deep-fried poached egg with Portobello mushrooms, slow-cooked ham hock and red wine shallot jus was the star of the show. A genius of a dish with a perfectly cooked egg, soft in the middle with a crisp, light crumbed outside perched on a deep, flavoured terrine. Equal star billing must go to the Monkfish collops (cheek) with a vodka and tonic batter, watercress and tartare sauce.
Price: Three-course dinner for two with wine, £78
James Martin's Leeds Kitchen review in full >>