Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Fat Duck in Bray and others

28 February 2007
Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Fat Duck in Bray and others

The Telegraph](, 24 February
Jasper Gerard strays from Heston Blumenthal's acclaimed tasting menu to try the a la carte at the Fat Duck in Bray

On this trip, we eschew the tasting menu, with its exotic experimentation and go à la carte for - relatively - traditional fayre. And, much to my chagrin, it would be dishonest to fault it. Every detail is perfect, down to the three types of butter for our bread. After warming up with four amuse-bouches, I kick off with lasagne of langoustine, but calling it "lasagne" is like calling Fortnum & Mason a corner shop. Never have I tasted pasta so delicate. If you ate this every day while marooned on a desert island, you wouldn't want rescuing. My main course is roast lamb: two days later, I can still summon the taste and aroma. My wife started with radish ravioli that looked like a ravishingly beautiful flower, followed by delicious turbot with mussels. She is already lobbying for a return match. (Lunch for two, £270 including service)

[The Independent](, 24 February
Thomas Sutcliffe calms himself down at Odette's near London's Regent Park

Any decent restaurant should work as a tranquilliser and, on the strength of this one visit, Odette's is a potent one - soothing by means of both its service and its food. We started with the pig head terrine off the à la carte menu (2 courses for £35 and 3 for £40), which was served with a swipe of tawny apple sauce and a globe-shaped black pudding in a crispy shell, like a sanguineous Scotch egg, and, off the set lunch menu (£17.95 for two courses, £21.95 for three), pan-fried mackerel with mackerel tartare and quail egg. A small salad of baby leaves was flanked by a chunky rectangle of fish, gilded skin fried to a crisp, and a small nest-shaped mound of finely chopped raw fish, supporting a quail's egg so precisely boiled that it welled up and wept yolk when I cut into it. (Food, 4/5. Dinner £90 for two including two glasses of wine and service charge)

[The Sunday Telegraph](, 25 February
Zoe Williams stays local and visits Trinity by London's Clapham Common

C had the chicken, with a terrine of truffled leek hearts, sauté of trompettes (unbelievably juicy) and a rich chicken foam (£16). The chicken was a Black Leg, and the breast was deeply tasty and delicious. There was a drumstick laid carefully to the side (again, this dish felt very sculpted), which looked a bit anaemic, but with trustworthy and confident cooking, and they weren't joking about the foam, which was beautifully rich. For inventiveness, though, I'll have to refer you to mine, the sea bream with avocado chantilly, roast red onions, and oyster, bream and black sesame tartare (£17). This really was extraordinary cooking, skating so close to sweet. (Rating, 8/10)

[The Observer](, 25 February
Jay Rayner goes to the end of the world, where the Thames falls into the void, to try Yi-Ban by London's Royal Albert Dock

Let's start with the positives. The menu reads well, with lots of the wobbly offally things which indicate a proper Chinese restaurant serving a hardcore Chinese clientele who want the good stuff. (And indeed, most of the clientele on a weekday lunchtime were Chinese.) Think duck tongues and beef giblets, think pork with salted fish and three ways with chicken claws. Personally, I won't do chicken claws ever again (all that jellified cartilage, all those knobbly knuckles) but I do like to see them on the menu. The dim sum here, served daily from noon to 5pm, are cheap at between £2 and £3.50 a dish. Of those we tried, it was the steamed variety that pleased most, particularly the crystal scallop and the snow-pea dumplings, which had the necessary fresh, crisp bite beneath the soft white outer casing. And we did like the flavour of the pork puffs, with their flaky, glazed puff-pastry shell. But we would have liked them a whole lot more if they hadn't been served cool. (Meal for two, £30-£50)

[Time Out](, 27 February
Guy Diamond gets seduced by the selection of brews at Tea Smith, near London's Liverpool Street

Owner John is a tea geek. Before opening the establishment, he spent 18 months researching teas in China and Japan, including two summers with a tea master in Hong Kong. He's sourced products direct from the Far East: scented and flower teas (such as jasmine), white teas (such as silver needle), Japanese and Chinese green teas, semi-fermented oolong teas (such as teguanyin), and the red, black and aged teas that the British favour, including Darjeeling and Assam. At the counter you can try a score of teas, from Far Eastern green teas such as Korean ‘sparrow's tongue', which has an appealing herbaceous freshness; or pu'er, an aged tea sold that smells of musty haybales when brewed. (Five stars out of six)

[Metro](, 28 February
Marina O'Loughlin enjoys a competent menu and obliging staff at Pearl Liang on London's Sheldon Square

[Bloomberg](, 23 February
Richard Vines enjoys the menu at London's Umu but finds it too expensive

I settled for the sushi set, at £25. You get a lovely, fresh salmon salad, with Tokyo leek, cashew nuts, frisee and ohba leaf, with rock salt and a sesame dressing. The plump sushi comes with modern twists. One piece (with mackerel) has a slither of mango on top, not to mention leek oil, marukome ikyu miso, leek, ohba leaf, sushi vinegar and wasabi. Ama ebi (shrimp) is served in a case of baked spring-roll skin. Umu is a good restaurant. The ingredients are first class. […] But Umu isn't great. It's fine if you have a large expense account and clients in search of a sushi fix. From the unusual sliding door at the entrance, through the elegant interior to the pretty dishes, Umu is designed to impress. But the consistency isn't there in service and the food isn't outstanding. Only the prices are exceptional. (Set lunch ranges from £24 to £48)

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