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Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Bruno's Brasserie in Cambridge and others

22 November 2006

The Daily Telegraph, 18 NovemberRowan Pelling dodges the students and checks out Bruno's Brasserie in Cambridge

When the waitress finally directs her attention our way, we order chilli salt squid with saffron aïoli and confit of duck spring rolls with a fig and cardamom compote to share as starters. A bottle of soothing and reliable Fleurie (£22) raises our flagging spirits, which are further hoisted by the fact that the squid is fresh, gingery and scrumptious. But the duck spring rolls are bland and sludgy, with coarse, chewy pastry and a nasty cardboard aftertaste. (Dinner for three, excluding service £117.50)

The Guardian, 18 November
Matthew Norman predicts a triumph for Tom Aikens's second self-named restaurant, Tom's Kitchen, in London

Here, in a rural canteen of a room that, with its white-tiled walls and studied plainness, is reminiscent of St John, Aikens doesn't so much embrace simplicity as bear hug it half to death. There was enough evidence to see that the formula will be a triumph. A rich, salty chicken consommé with vermicelli and herby dumplings was "a soup that stops you talking mid-sentence, it's so wonderful", as my wife put it. A goat's cheese salad was immaculate, and goujons of sole with tartare salt weren't just crispy and greaseless, but "the freshest fish I've tasted since I went to a Tokyo fish market at 5am". (Three-course meal with wine, £35-£50 a head)

The Irish Times, 18 November
Tom Doorley drops in at Damian Gray's the Dining Room at the Hole in the Wall, Dublin

Among the mains, a risotto of roast pumpkin, sage and caramelised onion was a pleasant combination of flavours but no great shakes as a risotto. However, belly pork with finely shredded savoy cabbage and a creamy concoction of pearl barley was pleasingly different and cleverly spiced. Venison was impeccably cooked - charred and sealed on the outside, perfectly rare inside - but had not been hung long enough to develop the gamey, earthy character that this otherwise bland meat needs. (Dinner for a family of five, €208/£140)

The Observer, 19 November
Jay Rayner finds nothing to criticise at the National Dining Rooms at London's National Gallery

There was a vibrant salad of wild rocket, spiced figs and West Country goats' curd. We had roast venison, rosy red at its core, that tasted of animal that had lived high on the windswept hill, which came with parsnips and glazed chestnuts. There was a breast of Goosnargh chicken from a bird that must have had fantastic tits, it was so large, plus a tasty potato fondant on the side. We finished with blackberry jelly and ice-cream, and a sherry trifle that would have infantilised even the most dour of adults. (Meal for two, including wine, £70)

The Independent on Sunday, 19 NovemberTerry Durack is excited to discover refined Nordic cuisine at Noma in Copenhagen

Something that looks like a gnarled tree branch is placed on the table. Slotted into it are large shards of gossamer-thin crisps, soaring upwards like the sails of a galleon. One is of chicken skin, another of cod skin, others of seaweed-flecked potato. At one end, a little cradle holds tiny, crisp, battered shrimp to be swooped through a runny poached egg yolk perched on a shiny pebble. This is the most provocative start to a meal I can ever remember. As a diner, I am transformed into a fur-wrapped hunter eking out the preserved remains of the last hunt as the snow piles up at the door. (Five-course dinner, £52 per person; seven courses, £62 per person - not including wine)

Time Out, 22 NovemberGuy Dimond gets a breath of country air in the heart of the capital at Bumpkin in west London

You'll warm to the place as soon as you step inside. The waiting staff are genuinely welcoming and in their mock-rustic uniforms, pigtails and beards they look like model workers from Soviet propaganda, strapping lads and lasses ready for the next harvest. The meat comes from Frank Godfrey, an excellent butcher in Highbury. Gloucester Old Spot pork chop had terrific flavour, but was overcooked and therefore a bit dry. Much better was the potted Dorset shrimps, served with "toast" (actually more like fried bread); these little brown shrimps have a depth of flavour that commercially farmed shrimps can't match. (Meal for two, about £85 in the brasserie)

Metro, 22 November
Marina O'Loughlin looks back with fondness at her meal at Bumpkin, 209 Westbourne Park Road, W11

There's just so much about the place that's designed to get the hackles rising. But I find myself looking back at our meal there with fondness. Keeping it simple seems to be the order of the day. Only a clot would object to quality ingredients treated, as they are here with restrained respect. My good roast chicken was a moist beast in savoury garlicky gravy, served with a side order of fresh steamed greens and a dodgy dauphinoise, undercooked potatoes with hard little hearts swamped in too much cream. Still the good feeling prevailed and we were looked after beautifully. This is a place to return to.

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