The Caterer

Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Theo Randall at the InterContinental and others

17 January 2007
Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Theo Randall at the InterContinental and others" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">The Independent](, 13 January
Thomas Sutcliffe has a quibble with the pricing at Theo Randall at the InterContinental in London

As for my turbot… after failing to pin down any flaws in the dish itself I realise my quibble is the price. Yes, there's a real skill in not doing too much to superb ingredients, but do we have to pay quite so much for what wasn't done? My wife's dessert - a vin santo ice-cream with orange biscotti - is the one dish we have that really pulls off the combination of simplicity and luxury, perhaps because it takes the most elementary Italian dessert, cantucci and vin santo, and adds an extra twist to it. It's very good indeed and it rather eclipses my panna cotta served with chestnut and croquante, in which the panna cotta is tremblingly perfect but the chestnut paste defiantly unsweetened - a combination that to my mind simply doesn't work. (Dinner for two, £114.75. Rating: three stars out of five for food, four stars out of five for service)

[The Independent on Sunday](, 14 January
Terry Durack heads home to Australia to try out Neil Perry's new outpost of Rockpool Bar & Grill in Melbourne

Inspiration [is] from the classic New York steakhouse with a dash of Vegas glamour and Aussie can-do. Not surprisingly, steak is the restaurant's reason for being, dry-aged between 28 and 40 days and cooked over a wood-fired grill. The richness of flavour in great produce is a lesson in itself. Grass-fed rib-eye on the bone is scorchy, crusty and beautifully rested, with real flavour and texture. But now, a moment of silence, please for the Wagyu fillet. At £45 for 200g it should be called Fukyu, but it is quite a trip, melting almost before it hits the tongue, leaving nothing but a clean, singing richness in its wake. (About £150 for two including wine and service. Rating: 18/20)

[The Sunday Telegraph](, 14 January
Zoe Williams is the latest critic to check out King and Corbin's new London restaurant, St Alban

Most of it was terrific. And some of it was rubbish. A had the Cornish crab with avocado. It was very delicate and assured, but I thought it lacked light and shade - there wasn't enough dark crab meat, so it all felt a bit polite. I had the deep-fried squid with sweet paprika. The spice was overbearing and did nothing for the mischievous bounciness of the squid. It was like putting Jordan in a Moroccan goat-wool jumper. (Three course meal, £38.60. Rating: 6.5/10)

[The Sunday Times](, 14 January
AA Gill casts a line at the revamped Mayfair icon, Scott's (now part of the Caprice/Ivy stable), in the heart of London

The menu is part Ivy and part Sheekey's. Upper-middle-class, lightly travelled, nicely spoken fish. Twenty years ago, every fish restaurant in London was a poissonnerie pastiche of Nice. Now, you'd have trouble finding a tranche of lotte with a burnt beurre blanc. It's all back to the Edwardians. Mind you, I had to send back my first lot of oysters. But I have on other visits had some excellent cod's roe on toast, and equally good herring milt (more bisexual underwater foreplay than you probably want to think about). Scott's has had a long and fraught gestation. My replacement oysters weren't a patch on Bentley's, and if you go to all the trouble of whacking in a great marble bar and naming it Oyster, you really ought to have an oyster worth eating. (Rating: four stars out of five)

[Time Out](, 17 January
Guy Dimond applauds the authenticity of the food at Sam and Eddie Hart's new tapas bar, Barrafina, in London

A mound of crushed ice displays the fresh seafood: three types of huge prawns, clams, mussels, a vast chunk of raw tuna used to make tuna tartare. Order razor clams, and the sight of the live bivalves squirming on the hot steel plancha is disquieting, but these molluscs taste great once they're cooked through. Probably the most complex dish Barrafina serves is tortilla. Many tortillas in London are abominations. Here, this Spanish-style omelette is cooked to order in front of you in a tiny pan, and arrives with a just-set texture. The 31 wines by the glass are very well chosen. Seven diverse styles of sherry are served in proper tasting glasses. Be warned that in combination with this sort of grazing menu, wine can push the bill right up. (Meal for two with wine and service, about £70. Rating: five stars out of six

[Bloomberg](, 12 JanuaryRichard Vines visits Adam Byatt's Origin n London's Covent Garden

Origin occupies the first floor of a commercial building where you're greeted, if that's the right word, by ice-queen receptionists seated behind a desk who want to know your business. I felt like Ugly Betty applying for a job. It's worth braving the lobby at Origin. The upstairs dining room is funky, the service is friendly and the modern-British menu of executive chef Adam Byatt, 32, is good. The previous incumbent — Thyme — was short-lived, and Origin functions as the dining room for Hospital, the club it adjoins. Byatt was the talent behind Thyme and also cooks at Trinity, a new venue in Clapham. I tried the two- course pre-theatre dinner, which costs £20 and can be ordered until seven as long as you know to ask for it. A starter of lasagne served with braised pork, with russet apple and crisp shallots was well balanced and full of flavor, though I wish it had been hotter. The sheets of pasta were light, the meat rich and the apple sweet. A main course of baked cod was a lovely piece of fish, with a ragout of ratte potatoes, butternut, onions and sage.

[Metro, 17 JanuaryMarina O'Loughlin turns up at no-bookings London eatery Barrafina

I loathe and abominate restaurants that don't take bookings. Sorry, bit harsh, but when it comes to dinner there is no place in my life for uncertainty. So, despite being from brothers Sam and Eddie Hart (the duo behind Fino, arguably London's best Spanish restaurant), I wasn't in a tearing hurry to get to Barrafina. We ate like blood-crazed sharks. Other diners contented themselves with a couple of dishes but her's our full, shameful list: salted almonds; Jabugo ham; morcilla with piquillo peppers; pam tomaquet; coca Mallorquin; gambas al ajillo; squid alla plancha; croquetas; patatas bravas; chorizo with watercress; lamb cutlets; and I think some kind of almond tart may have snuck its way in there somewhere along the line. When I saw the divinely dinky tortillas being prepared in their individual frying pans, I felt like shedding hot tears that I couldn't manage to ram one of those in, too. To save you time I could just tell you it was mostly marvellous. Three out of five stars. A meal for two with wine, water and service costs from £40 to £100

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