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Review of the reviews… what the critics say …

27 September 2006

The Metro, 27 September
Marina O'Loughlin visits Ozu in London's County Hall and wonders why she bothered

The Guardian, 23 September
Matthew Norman has a disappointing experience at the Ambassador, Exmouth Market, London

It's never a happy sign when the highlights come at either end of the meal, and much the best things here were exceptional sourdough bread and a pud. What came in between was, at best, disappointing. The delicate flavour of San Daniele ham was overpowered by balsamic vinegar, and slices of cured salmon were similarly overwhelmed by those cheap spheres of ovine, salty fishiness known as 'salmon caviar'. Swamped though those dishes were, however, my vegetarian friend's white gazpacho with plums was a full-blown catastrophe. (Rating: 4 out of 10. £25-£30 a head.)

The Daily Telegraph, 23 SeptemberBelinda Richardson is in a wet and windy Whitby, North Yorks, at fish and chip restaurant, the Magpie.

Pert pieces of pearly-white cod wrapped in golden capes that crackle with each bite the goujons are served to the children with the minimum fuss and embellishment. The incredibly fresh fish surely arrived only seconds before we did. And the chips - solid 2cm-thick hunks - are so delicious that I have to be beaten off them several times. (Lunch for two adults and four children £60 excluding drinks and service).

The Sunday Telegraph, 24 SeptemberZoe Williams

I prodded gingerly at my devilled kidneys. The truth is their gravy was glutinous, but they had a mighty kick and, considering the tightrope kidneys walk between delicious and uric, the hot hands of mustard and chilli guided them comfortably to the side of the angels. Seared loin of tuna with shaved fennel and pea-sprout salad…was a gigantic burst of greenliness. The tuna, cooked to a depth of 3mm and pearlescent pink within, looked like it had misread the invite to a fancy dressy party. It was delicious, and the whole thing was judiciously easy on the fennel, fresh and gorgeous. Rump of Welsh lamb…was overcooked, but not to the point that you couldn't gauge its high quality. (Rating 6 out of 10. Three courses £27.70).

The Observer, 24 SeptemberJay Rayner finds a bargain lunch at Japanese restaurant Sumosan in London's West End.

For £22.50 each you get to make seven choices which construct a substantial lunch, with all the grace and subtlety that we have come to expect from high-end Japanese food. It starts with soup. Dobinmushi is a clear but intensely savoury broth, mined with delicate pieces of seafood. You pour it from a teapot into a tiny ceramic bowl, the edge of which has been smeared with lime juice. A perfect palette cleanser. Another soup, nabe undon, is a rich sweet liquor with a few thick, slurpable noodles and a generous piece of prawn tempura. At the end there was an aromatic green tea ice-cream or, best of all, a perfectly crafted dark chocolate fondant leaking a centre of white chocolate. (Lunch for two, including drinks and service, £60).

The Sunday Times, 24 SeptemberAA Gill visits the much anticipated L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in London's Covent Garden area.

The Iberian ham with toasted tomato bread would be perfectly ordinary in a tapas bar, but the fresh mackerel on a thin tart with parmesan shavings and olives was a miraculously beautiful confection of wafer-thin fish pithiviers. It was such a brilliantly executed combination of tastes that it immediately became one of the best dishes in London. As did a pig's trotter on parmesan toast and a divine mini hamburger made with beef and foie gras. The burger, though, was indicative of the catering precipice the Atelier balances on. This attempt at oriental delicacy was constantly in danger of becoming a selection of canapés. There was a moment when I felt like the father of the bride, testing catering for a wedding reception. (Rating: four out of five)

Time Out, 27 September
Guy Dimond also visits L'Atelier de Joel Robouchon - and loves the food but has reservations about the pricing.

There are plenty of ingredients to titilate gourmets: intensely flavoured sweetbreads; or pig's trotter on little toasts, minced to maximise the gelatinous burst of fatty textures that explode in the mouth. The soufflé dessert was a triumph: laced with Chartreuse, the spirit's high sugar content gave the soufflé added height without danger of collapse, at least not until a spoon of pistachio ice-cream was plunged into its hot core. L'Atelier is an excellent restaurant, but the pricing makes it a place for special occasions and splurges. The food is consistently imaginative, appetising, and flavoursome, and it's a lot more fun than stuffier haute cuisine restaurants. (Rating: five stars out of six. Meal for two with wine and service: around £150.

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