Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Albannach and others

03 January 2007
Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Albannach and others" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">The Sunday Telegraph](, 31 December
A free wee dram isn't enough to distract Zoe Williams from the disasters on her plate at Scottish restaurant Albannach near London's Trafalgar Square.

S had the scallops on peas and mash, which was cold. Nope, not deliberately (the scallops were warmish, the mash was cold). Nope, I'm not joking. I had the venison Wellington. I really must describe this in some detail: puff pastry, which was fine, then a vaguely tasty sausage meat and, within, a piece of venison so small I don't believe it tipped the second ounce. Only because it was so horrible did I allow S a taste, and it took her so long to chew through that I didn't hear from her again until coffee. Plus, some slices of potato that amounted to one third of a spud; maybe an eighth of a beetroot? I know it's a themed restaurant, and the Scots are meant to be tight, but this was ridiculous. (Three courses, £34.75. Rating: 2/10)

[The Sunday Times]( ), 31 December
AA Gill takes a look back at the restaurants that made it past go for him during 2006

The year's high points, gastronomically, were Arbutus, in Frith Street, Soho, which has some fancy cooking and an inventive menu and might have got a fifth star if it had looked a little nicer and hadn't been full of people from the media; and L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, on West Street. Robuchon may well be the best chef cooking anywhere in the world at the moment, but this cousin of his Parisian gaff seems to have made an awkward transition to London. Some of the food is as wonderful as you'll find in the capital. And then there was Bar Shu, which all the critics were mad for, but I doubt if any have been back. The Sichuan food was so hot, it could boil bog water. (Rating for all three, four stars out of five)

[Time Out](, 3 January
Guy Diamond samples a heroically British menu at the Empress of India in East London's Victoria Park

The Empress might look like a gastropub, but there's no ‘pan-fusion' menu here; the Empress has better breeding than that. The menu is stoically, heroically British. Not the British of lukewarm carveries, but the British food of the upper classes. We watched table after table ordering roast birds from the rôtisserie; all served on wooden carving platters. Then we ordered our own whole mallard, and carved it at the table. The duck had strong and healthy joints that resisted being cut through, suggesting it had an active life before some bounder downed it with a shotgun. (Meal for two, with wine and service, about £80)

[Metro](, 3 January
Marina O'Loughin visits Theo Randall at the newly refurbished InterContinental

Who knew a veal chop could be so beautiful. It sits on a plate oozing outside scarred with the fierce heat of the char-grill its insides the perfect palest pink of babies ear. It tastes magnificent too.…one of the best meat dishes I've had in recent memory. We had plenty more to drool over. Heck, even the bread is memorable…fritto misto with batter so crisp it rustles, two sage leaves sandwich a sliver of anchovy violet artichokes add seasonal heft, the squid gives way to the teeth in the most satisfactory way.All this fantastic food is to be had in an environment with about as much personality as a low fat, carb-free cheeseburger, no fries, hold the mustard.
3/5 stars

[Metro, 3 JanuaryMarina O'Loughin isn't quite head over heals at Meals at Heals, yet Meals at Heals 3/5

Oliver Peyton! what have you done? I'm as much of a fan of kitschy campery as the next chap, but your bizarre new number in Heal's seems about as likely as Jodie Marsh in a little Jaeger number. You know retrospectively I'm warming to the place. I liked the pared down menu, a typically Peyton collection of Brit base notes, warmed up with a touch of Med and some magnificent baking. Portions are generous… Lamb chops came with punchy salsa verde and a sludge of caponata. This is a clever restaurateurs idea of a joke and I think I've just got it.

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