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Review of Reviews: 16 March 2006

16 March 2006
Review of Reviews: 16 March 2006

The Independent, 11 MarchTracey MacLeod chews the cud at TV food presenter Roxy Beaujolais's new London gastropub the Bountiful Cow, but isn't impressed

One of our starters, a single pan-fried scallop, came with not just the coral attached but a deal of frilly, gelatinous grey membrane that anyone could see should have been removed.

As the name implies, the [pub's] selling point is its beef, but a 10oz rib-eye was short on flavour, while a burger was so hefty that although the interior was barely cooked, the exterior had acquired the texture of carpet underlay. We scarpered as soon as we could. (Rating: two stars out of five. Dinner about £50 a head including wine)

The Scotsman, 11 MarchGillian Glover, on the lookout for lunch for £15 during a visit to London, wishes she hadn't popped into the Regent Street All Bar One
I chose a chicken and red pepper peri-peri kebab (£8.95), which, with a large glass of white wine (£4.80) would keep me under budget. Theoretically, because when the chicken arrived it was charred black and dried out to the texture of old rope. It was perched on two pieces of warm, very dry flat bread and the only moisture on the plate came from a spoonful of vinegary chopped tomato salad. It would have taken the contents of Loch Katrine to ease this lot over the gullet. So I ordered some falafel on the side (£4) as this came with cucumber and yogurt - oh, sweet balm! (Two dishes and a glass of white wine, £17.75)

The Times, 11 MarchGiles Coren gets emotional over the King William in Bath.

It is a gastropub to bring a tear to your eye. I ordered crab on toast, which was three big slabs of toast heaped with very fresh crab, lightly dressed and with an exciting kick of chilli. The [devilled] kidneys were gorgeous: served quite well-done (which I prefer) in a gravy rich as chocolate that soaked the middle of three more slabs of toast and left golden crunchy edges to chomp on. My mutton was everything I had dreamt of of weeks before in Gloucestershire, and of which I had been deprived. Two big chops were just a little chewier than winter lamb, but a browner, beefier flavour. More animally, but not in a barnyardy way. In a fieldy way. And that effect was squared in mouthfuls that contained the sweet, aromatic fat. I have rarely eaten more exciting meat. The King William is a paragon of everything British eating is heading towards, and we cannot get there soon enough for me. (Rating: 8.33 out of 10)

Daily Telegraph, 11 MarchJan Moir finds that after a glutinous start, the Sticky Prawn in Falmouth wins her round

We had a bowl of the eponymous prawns, which, sad to report, are soggy and overcooked rather than famously sticky. Maybe even frozen? Or is that my bitter soul talking? The soup of the day - crab, chilli and coconut - is a blameless bowl of lovely crabmeat in a balm of coconut milk, zapped wth a dab of green curry paste and just the right amount of chilli and lime. Dover sole is good and fresh and cooked just right, without being oiled up with too much butter, very firm and nicely trimmed, and eating it with a green salad and a glass of wine, while watching the yachts bob in the bay, is about as good as it gets on the fishy front. (Meal for two £60, excluding drinks and service)

The Independent on Sunday, 12 MarchThe Astor Bar & Grill in London's Piccadilly claims inspiration from the high-end steakhouses of America, but Terry Durack discovers a un-American paucity in portioning

Two of us decide to share the house speciality, a rib of beef on the bone with bone marrow… and the air-dried côte de boeuf [hung for 35 days] soon arrives on a wooden board, to be carved tableside. That's it? Instead of the expected Henry VIII-size chunk of meat, the rib bone is cut in half horizontally to produce what might flatteringly be called a modestly thick steak. It's just enough for two people to share. In the high-end steakhouses of New York and Chicago, it would be called an appetiser. The meat is tender, precisely rare within and crusty without. Chips are good, crisp and dry, but vegetables are hotel-style: grey mushrooms and pale herb-dusted tomatoes. There is more flavour in an intense, silky 2004 Huia Pinot Noir (£39) from New Zealand's Marlborough region. (Rating: 11 out of 20. Around £150 for two including wine and service)

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