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Review of the Reviews

06 September 2004

28 August
Tracey MacLeod finds that McClements scores in Twickenham, Surrey McClements treads a careful line between dazzling modern French refinement and the satisfying indulgence of the brasserie. A selection of starters encompassed such delights as wild salmon cured with beetroot, and scallops with deep-fried baby squid. A single, lobster-crammed ravioli, all slippery luxury, came with a skewered claw, in a lightly cappuccino-ed vanilla-scented sauce. Both main courses read a little autumnal for a hot August night but were delivered with an impeccable lightness of touch. Veal sweetbreads, pan-fried and finished in the oven, came with tiny lyonnaise potatoes and pickled baby turnip, carrot and onions. McClements isn't cheap… but it's a special occasion place, and this was one of the best meals I've had all year.

28 August
Gillian Glover enjoys the views but not the food at the Gallery Bar and Restaurant, Edinburgh Fillet of sea bass on a zesty fine-chopped ratatouille was excellent, the moist fillets stacked artfully. The only disappointment was the "crisp" pancetta which was as bendy as a bootlace. My rump of Perthshire lamb had taken the hump. The chef had cut the meat along the grain instead of across, which meant that, as it cooled, it toughened. The sweetbreads had been coated in a savagely reduced jus and had the taste and texture of Butterkist dunked in Marmite. I didn't enjoy any part of the dish. The service was genuinely charming, the location is world class - it's the kitchen I'd worry about. (Dinner for two, £56.75 excluding drinks)

29 August
Matthew Norman finds terrific food but needs sunglasses for the decor at 1880 in the Bentley hotel, London SW7 Rich and hearty leek-and-potato potage was dazzlingly replete with truffles, thyme ravioli and Parmesan tuile. Roasted foie gras on mash was gloriously melty and came with a palate-cleansing shot of apple juice; gravlax was exceptional and served with droplets of a subtle sweet mustard sauce dotted with caviar eggs; and a lavish salad of lobster and plump asparagus was enriched by a delicate sauce marie rose. A roasted fillet of sea bass was "incredibly fresh", as were Celtic seared scallops, while I can't remember pinker or more tender lamb cutlets, served with a terrific jus and sweetbreads. But then I can't remember much about the food at all; almost every cubic inch of memory is occupied by onyx. (8.5/10 for food and service, 1.5/10 for decor. Dinner for one, with coffee and half-bottle of house wine, £67)

29 August
Jay Rayner doesn't enjoy Brian Turner's new sandwich range, available at Roadchef service areas nationwide The products themselves are both banal and outrageously over-priced. Yes, a tuna mayo sandwich can be a classic, but not on limp white bread, and not at £2.99. Nor is that price justified for the uninspiring specimen of bog-standard Cheddar in the cheese ploughman's. Both of these come from the "Big Treat" section of the menu, and if you are the sort of person who would consider them a treat, I would strongly urge you to get out more. (Sandwiches £2.50 to £4)

28 August
Jan Moir finds the "brilliantly British" St John in London EC1 still amazing after 10 years To begin with, smoked sprats with horseradish and a hunk of the restaurant's own dense and delicious brown bread. The sprats are smoked to a pale gold colour and the process renders the entire fish edible; bones, tail, head and all. There's nothing for it but to pick one up, dunk it headfirst into the horseradish sauce and revel in the moist flesh and crunch of crispy, fishy bone. A bowl of pea and ham soup is thick and glorious, heaving with shards of pink ham and old-fashioned flavour. Now, the grouse… served whole with a handful of watercress, a pool of bread sauce and a slice of bread fried in duck fat, then paved with a paté made of the grouse heart and liver; a truly fabulous treat. (A meal for two, excluding drinks and service, costs £60)

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 2 September 2004

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