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The Caterer

Review of the reviews… what the critics say about The Grill at the Dorchester and others

11 April 2007
Review of the reviews… what the critics say about The Grill at the Dorchester and others

The Independent](http://www.independent.co.uk/), 7 April
Thomas Sutcliffe is left somewhere between admiration and exhaustion after the masterclass shown at the Grill at the Dorchester in London W1

That sense of ambition, nudging towards excess, never quite goes away in the meal that follows. Again and again there's evidence of sheer technical skill in the kitchen: two thimble-sized timbales of foie gras that accompany the squab pigeon a cannelloni of puréed pea, stuffed with peas, mascarpone and mint, which comes with a rabbit ballotine starter a trembling custard of onion and Parmesan that flanks another starter of roasted and smoked foie gras. But what seems more elusive are those resounding major chord combinations that make a great dish. (Rating 4/5. Meal for three including two glasses of wine and service £210)

[The Guardian](http://www.guardian.co.uk/), 7 AprilMatthew Norman finds a heavenly little enclave at Magdalen in London SE1

Hot foie gras with caramelised blood oranges, served with a glass of chilled port we didn't realise we'd ordered (perhaps the acoustic isn't so hot after all), drew a hushed, "My God, this is awesome. It's like a silky, buttery mousse - and what a combination with the oranges. Perfect balance." My starter, from the other end of the profit margin spectrum (the ingredients must have cost all of 7p), showed a grasp of how to recycle unloved avian parts worthy of a Cantonese street market: it was a small Le Creuset bowl full of duck giblets (head, wing, gizzard and, best and most flavoursome, neck) in the sort of rich, spicy, amazingly delicious broth you might imagine a Jewish mother serving up in a Warsaw kitchen in 1932 (if you're on mescaline). (Rating 8.75/10. Three courses with wine £40-£50)

[The Independent on Sunday](http://www.independent.co.uk/), 8 AprilTerry Durack finds a classier kind of Chinese at Pearl Liang in London W2

I give the Big Six the big elbow, and instead put together a small banquet of contrasting textures and tastes, kicking off with a serving of siu long bau (£2.50), which are my favourite Shanghainese pork dumplings. The conceit is that each pouch contains a spoonful of hot stock (put in when still jellied), but the reality in most restaurants is that they are poorly made, with broken skins and no stocky juices. These are the real deal the pork is moussey and giving, the juices are rich and runny, mingling with the dipping vinegar. Next comes a big bowl of pork, mustard cabbage and salted-egg soup (£7.80 for two), which, again, is all about the broth. It doesn't have the instant cheap appeal of a crab and sweetcorn or hot and sour, but it's pretty classy, with a full-bodied stock and a singular, subtle flavour. (Rating 14/20. Dinner for two including drinks and service £80)

[The Observer](http://observer.guardian.co.uk/), 8 AprilJay Rayner discovers that a good idea and a good meal don't necessarily go hand in hand at the Malmaison Brasserie in Birmingham

The Yorkshire was floppy and dull. A good Yorkshire pudding should be a cartoonish object, bigger than can ever be necessary, like a Hollywood starlet's collagened lips, only brown and crispy (somewhere, that simile fell apart). It was doused in an onion gravy with all the grace and subtlety of Marmite. I ordered a side of creamed cabbage with bacon, and though the vegetable was fine, the bacon was in big, fatty, undercooked chunks, complete with hard, bristled skin. You know how it pains me to leave any part of the pig uneaten, but this I couldn't manage. (Meal for two including drinks and service £60)

[The Sunday Times](http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/), 8 AprilAA Gill visits a chippy for people who don't do chippies at Fish Club in London SW11

I began with a fish soup that was billed as traditional French. It wasn't. It had the Mozart fault - too many notes - and had been turned into a sort of ribollita with too much stuff (bread and herbs and aïoli). It was too keen to please. That's the great secret of French cookery - it never cares if you like it or not. The Blonde's potted shrimps were a dariole of shrimp slush with too much dill - the wrong herb, evocative of Scandinavia and Russia, not Morecambe. Haddock and chips were fine - better than fine. Nice bit of fish. But the chemistry and the physics weren't 100%. The batter was semidetached from the fillet - a thin, oily overcoat. I suspect the temperature was a touch low, and the fat itself was vegetable. (Rating 3/5)

[Metro](http://www.metro.co.uk/), 11 AprilAndy Lynes finds much to like at Gordon Ramsay's first pub The Narrow

The search for the worst table in London is over. It would have been easier to shift the Earth's tectonic plates than squeeze behind corner table five at The Narrow, Gordon Ramsay's brand new Docklands gastropub. It was no less awkward for the waiter, who nearly delivered an elbow to the head of a nearby diner as he tried to serve us. Demand table 12 with its cracking river views or be prepared to make friends with your very near neighbours. Either way, you shouldn't miss out on some of the best grub in town. Ex-Claridges chef John Collin's resolutely British menu will please the crowds and tickle the fancy of hardcore foodies. The Narrow is a smart and seductive place…and set to be the first of a string of pubs and Ramsay seems to be taking over the world but, if that means food and service this good on every high street in the land, I'm not complaining. (Three out of five stars. A meal for two with wine, water and service costs about £70).

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