Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Barburrito, Manchester and others

21 February 2007
Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Barburrito, Manchester and others" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">The Guardian](, 17 February
Matthew Norman finds out what's hot in Mexican restaurant, Barburrito, in Manchester's Piccadilly area

The menu is brief, concentrating on a range of burritos, tacos and quesadillas. You pick your dishes and walk along a canteenish counter telling the staff which relishes and condiments you want with each. Almost everything we ate was fresh and well prepared. A taco filled with bits of steak, hot salsa and sour cream was zingy and delicious, albeit lukewarm, and a braised pork quesadilla with chilli and good stringy cheese was about as light as such a medley could be. Easily the highlight, however, was a burrito that married an impeccably springy tortilla to pieces of juicy grilled chicken, spicy beans and jalapeño peppers but the menu's claim that the coffee was "award winning" seemed fanciful (Meal for two with a beer, around £10-£12. Rating: 8/10).

[The Daily Telegraph](, 17 FebruaryJasper Gerard becomes an Essex man at the Cock Inn near Braintree - kingdom of Jamie's Chef winner, Aaron Craze

Craze was shown on television struggling to deliver an extensive menu, so he and his three chefs have heeded Oliver's advice to keep it simple. To start there's Tuscan antipasti. And jolly good it is: scrumptious Gorgonzola, crisp crostini, huge Amalfi olives, slices of smoked fish and ham. My roast lamb is succulent and slips down in a sprint. My wife goes for duck, from a local farm, in wine sauce served with homemade Seville marmalade. She eyes it suspiciously as it looks under the weather. Yet, amazingly, this proves a delectable delight. But judging by our vegetables, green stuff is not Craze's bag. We are given long yellow things - carrots, apparently - that are so tasteless they could be turnips. (Meal for two adults, two children, £87 excluding service.)

[The Sunday Telegraph](, 18 FebruaryZoe Williams heads off to Birmingham to see if Itihaas, winner of the Cobra Good Curry award for best restaurant in Britain, lives up to its billing

I've never seen poppadum pickles laid out so stylishly, nor a clientele that the world of Posh Curry would so die for. My prawns were solid and punchy. Technically, they were butterflied, though butterflies were the last creatures these enormous beasties brought to mind. The bread basket was a disappointment. My lamb chops were smashing, hot and dry and street-foody, but a little too like the prawns as a textural experience. The aubergine side dish was adapted from the vegetarian mains. The puds, I am sorry to report, did nothing to dispel the well-worn motto, "Never have a pudding in a curry house." Pistachio kulfi (£3.25) was OK, and my sponge (£3.25) was gravelly and soggy. (Three courses, £21.55. Rating 6/10.)

[The Observer](, 18 FebruaryJay Rayner tracks down ex-Harvey Nichols chef Simon Shaw at his new restaurant in Ripponden, West Yorkshire - El Gato Negro Tapas

Order a plate of the hand-cut, lusciously marbled jamon Iberico at a very reasonable £9.50, the most expensive dish on the menu, and you'll think the travel worthwhile. Poussin is chopped up and long marinated in a sauce rich with smoked paprika. The tortilla is made to order and, though a little under-seasoned, has a perfect, light texture. There are bowls of ripe, stewed Syrian lentils, spiky with cumin. Some dishes show Shaw's cheffy experience, particularly three fat scallops expertly seared off and served with a light chickpea purée and some dinky chorizo sausages, or crisp slices of fried bread layered with plump anchovies, both salted and marinated. (Meal for two, with wine and service, £40-£70.)

[Time Out](, 20 FebruaryAntonia Bruce has a mixed experience at newly opened bistro Magdalen, near London Bridge

We enjoyed the sweet-sour pairing of seared foie gras with prunes and Armagnac, but the liver was raw in the centre and the plate was slicked with leaked fat. A shallow bowl of cuttlefish with chickpeas was meltingly soft and spiked with a generous amount of lemony gremolata, but the addition of squid ink turned the dish into a murky black mystery. Slow-roasted milk-fed lamb was wonderfully tender, drenched in savoury juices. Our shared Longhorn beef Parmentier (similar to cottage pie) tasted so intensely beefy it was reminiscent of beef jerky. (Meal for two with wine and service, around £85.)

[Metro, 21 FebruaryMarina O'Loughlin revisits Italian cuisine at 2 Veneti in London's Wigmore Street

Whatever vagaries the restaurant world wants to fling at us (Dans Le Noir, anyone?), there will always, always be the Italian. Some of the capital's longest-standing restaurants are Italians, seeing off broadsides from new pretenders with an air of smug stoicism. We got a genuinely warm welcome from co-owner Simon Piovesan and similar from a deliciously decorative waiter, who also happened to be knowledgeable and helpful, recommending a luscious Marco Felluga Pinot Grigio from Friuli. The wine list is a good one, specialising in Venetian and Northern Italian wines. While 2 Veneti is never going to set new standards for this kind of cooking, or make us look at it with new eyes, it's a friendly place where the enthusiasm of the owners shines through. (Three stars out of five. a meal for two with wine, water and service costs about £95).

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