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Review of the reviews… what the critics say about London's Tamarai and others

08 November 2006

Metro, 8 November
Marina O'Loughlin enjoys the food not the décor at London's Tamarai in Dury Lane

8 November, Time Out
Guy Dimond tucks into the Japanese equivalent of good pub grub at Nagomi in London's West End

Although it's superficially like a sleek, modern Japanese café, the menu reads just like a dive bar in Roppongi (Tokyo's seedy nightlife district). There are fried dishes aplenty, grilled fish, even takoyaki - six little balls of batter fried in an iron mould, filled with chunks of octopus and topped with whisps of bonito flakes curling in the heat. Grilled pork skin with ponzu is another dish suited to drinking sessions, the skin crisp but layered with fat beneath, like bonsai bacon. We were pleasantly surprised by most of the dishes, as izakaya cooking is rarely the finest. (Rating, 3/5. Meal for two with drinks and service, around £75).

3 November, Bloomberg
Richard Vines finds St. Germain in London's Clerkenwell has taste of France, just not enough

Paris brasseries can be so charming, it's a mystery why the concept doesn't travel better. Maybe it's because while your average French restaurateur is convinced of the superiority of his country's wines and cuisine, foreigners tend to mess with the formula. And French waiters make their own unique contribution, not easily replicated by the European Union mix you'll find in a London eatery. St. Germain, a new establishment in Clerkenwell, next to Farringdon Tube station, has a lot going for it. The menu offers authentic brasserie fare, and it's worth a visit if you're passing by and in the mood for oysters or steak frites. Yet St. Germain could be so much better if it had the courage of its convictions. Rather than seeking to be French, St. Germain attempts an American take on Frenchness.. This lack of Gallic integrity shows up most seriously in the wine list, which features all the usual supermarket favorites instead of focusing on France. The design of the place is similarly cautious. On the plus side, the service is friendly and relaxed. The food is quite acceptable. Rock oysters (from West Mersea Oysters) are £16 a dozen and native £24. I had the latter and they were fine, though lacking the succulence you might find at Bentley's.

The Guardian, 4 November
Matthew Norman visits Bentleys in Southampton and wonders why the AA gave the "hellhole" a rosette

The chargrilled loin of tuna with salad NiÁ§oise proved a huge piece of what struck the eye more as whale meat overcooked to a sallow grey finish and accompanied by incongruously dainty fine beans cut into half-inch slices. "Quite atrocious," was the verdict, "I've had better shoe leather." My tenderloin of pork marinated in ginger ale, with a parsnip fondant, was equally hideous to the eye and, although the flavour was inoffensive, it had been cooked rare - a standard technique with tuna, yes, but a mighty bold one with pork. (Rating, 1.5/10. Four courses with coffee, £31.50)

The Sunday Telegraph, 5 November
Zoe Williams visits Bordeaux Quay in Bristol and finds that eco-awareness doesn't always produce bad food

Hippy, a long-term vegetarian, has started eating meat again on the advice of her acupuncturist. There. I have tracked down a living definition of the Bristol Foodie. I'm like Darwin in the Galapagos. She started with risotto of roast pumpkin with rosemary, toasted walnuts and Gorgonzola (£6.50), which was pungent and walnutty. There was absolutely no stinting on the cheese, and yet, "I don't feel as though it's going to turn me into Hattie Jacques," she said, by which I'm guessing she meant a fat person rather than a nurse. I had the confit of oxtail with celery and carrot (£7.50), which was drop-dead gorgeous; the meat was falling apart in total surrender, so rich and round - that effect of creaminess, without any actual cream - with a top note of such delicate sweetness, it could have been cooking for about a year and a half. (Rating 9/10, three courses £30.75)

The Observer, 5 NovemberJay Rayner finds something comforting and familiar at Blackstones in Bath

There is nothing prissy about the food here. It is solid, butch and warming stuff. So a warm onion tart is not one of those thin crisp ProvenÁ§al jobs, but something deep-filled, more akin to a quiche, with a high crumbly rim of uber-buttery pastry and a loose filling thick with a tangle of sweet onions. Smoked haddock fish cakes are - praise be! - actually full of smoky fish and have a satisfying crust to them that works well with their coarse homemade tartare sauce. Eating alone, I felt a responsibility to somehow find space for their well-executed panna cotta. Afterwards Rebecca, who heads the kitchen, told me she believed a good panna cotta should "move like a woman's breasts". I checked with my wife, and it did. (Meal for two including wine and service, £40-£70)

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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