Review of Reviews – what the critics say about St Alban in London and others

14 February 2007
Review of Reviews – what the critics say about St Alban in London and others

The Guardian](, 10 February
Matthew Norman has nothing to complain about at St Alban in London

My friend was wild about her Cornish crab, which was fantastically fresh and sweet and came with crushed avocado, chilli and a twist of lime, while my Joselito gran reserva ham confirmed the old saw that from the smallest acorns mightily delicious pigs do grow. There was some carping about the food in St Alban's early weeks, but any teething problems seem to have been sorted out. Juicy quails came with that glorious, chargrilled tang, as well as butternut squash spiced with pistachio and Sicilian rabbit stew combined a large portion of the tenderest meat, slow-cooked to flaky perfection, with a Mandarin sweet-and-sour flavour that worked brilliantly. (Three courses with wine, £55-£65 a head. Rating: 9/10)

[The Times](, 10 February
Ginny Dougary is fortunate enough to stumble upon the Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House in Stoney Street, beside London's Borough Market

Like the market itself and much of the surrounding area, the oyster bar is atmospheric in an old-fashioned, Dickensian way, but with a slightly anarchic, chaotic edge that makes it doubly exciting. The room itself is dark and consists of a bar that seats a dozen people on stools and five more alongside the kitchen. In the centre there are two tables for eight diners each. The mains were a total hit - the most scrumptious fish pie, served in a cast-iron skillet, filled with big chunks of perfectly cooked salmon and smoked haddock a beef pie (both boys were cunningly convinced to try poaching the accompanying oysters in the beef broth verdict "not bad") a crab hash cake with a zingy avocado and tomato salsa and a bowl of mussels marinières. (Meal for two including wine £40)

[The Independent On Sunday](, 11 February
Terry Durack has to wait his turn to eat at one of London's latest hot restaurants, Barrafina in Soho

The new Soho tapas bar from Fino's Sam and Eddie Hart takes no reservations. Of course there are going to be queues. At 8.05pm, one hour and 35 minutes after I arrived, I finally sit down. So the big question is this: is Barrafina worth the wait? What's good? Most of it. The tortilla, especially the classic egg-and-potato number (£4), is a minor miracle, crisp outside and lightly runny inside. Clams (£6.50), simply opened on the grill, are fresh, sweet and awash in their own juices, while a glistening ball of ruby-red tuna tartare (£7.50), served with a splodge of avocado purée, is light, delicate and clean-tasting. (About £90 for two including wine and service. Rating 15/20)

[The Sunday Times](, 11 FebruaryAA Gill goes for a Brazilian at Mocoto (which used to be the Italian Isola) but is not impressed

The Blonde started with sweet corn soup with chicken tortellini. It was intensely sweet and clottingly creamy, with wan condoms of mulchy fowl suspended in it, and was rather like a relentless vegetarian gravy to eat. Neither of us could have finished it. Sweet corn is such a loud and unremitting flavour - like having your mouth shouted at by a small child. I had steak tartare with palm hearts, chillies and quail's egg - the sort of twee confection of too many ingredients that was briefly fashionable in the 1990s. The meat had been machine-minced rather than chopped by hand, so it was more a paste. The palm hearts were pickled the peppers lacked discernible heat. The quail's egg's unique selling point was its size - and, like miniature televisions, a novelty, not an improvement. (Rating: 2/5)

[The Observer](, 11 FebruarySnow means that instead of heading to a rural idyll somewhere Jay Rayner hunts down the country at Bumpkin restaurant in Notting Hill, London

Some of the food is fine in a "nothing to do with the country" sort of way. At lunchtime there is a selection of dishes for one or two, including cassoulet. It was not an exemplar of its kind, lacking the full-on rich, meaty kick this dish should offer. But the leg of duck confit plonked on top was crisp enough, and on a winter's day the mix of beans and sausage underneath was satisfying. Whether it justified the £16 price tag is another matter. Puddings are of the admirable pie and crumble sort, but by then, weighed down by cassoulet, I'd had enough of not being in the country at Notting Hill. (Meal for two, including wine and service, £90)

[Metro](, 14 FebruaryMarina O'Loughlin is less than impressed by London's Suzy Wong on Old Compton Street in Soho

[Bloomberg,Â">, 9 February
Richard Vines find Mocoto in Knightsbridge belies Brazil's sexy reputation

Brazil has the image of a colorful country where people like to party all the time, even when it's not carnival. Mocoto is doing its bit to undermine the stereotype. I went twice and had one bad evening and one good. The difference was that the second time I went with Brazilian… I didn't find any mains I would go back for and it may be the very authenticity of the cooking that is the problem. The "rodizio" idea of waiters bringing round endless skewers of meat is more my cup of tea. And while Brazilians may be delighted they can get home-style Feijoadinha in London, I wonder how they'll feel about paying £16. The restaurant seats 112 and the upstairs bar can accommodate 300. That's a lot of people and I'm not convinced everyone in London has been waiting for a Brazilian. (About £30 for three courses, plus drinks)

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