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

24 January 2007
Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Theo Randall at the InterContinental and others" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">The Guardian](, 20 January
Matthew Norman finds that Theo Randall at the InterContinental, in London, presses the right buttons

The moment we tasted some amazingly good breads, especially a glorious, garlicky bruschetta, we knew we were in for a treat. And so it proved. My starter of agnolotti stuffed with slow-cooked veal, partridge, pancetta and Parmesan was as delicate a pasta dish as I've had in ages, and my friend was besotted with her pan-fried squid with borlotti beans, anchovy, parsley, rocket and a decent chilli kick. My roast rack of lamb was marginally undersalted, but the quality of the meat justified the price, and it was served an alluring deep pink and came with a glorious medley of wood-roasted beetroots, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac - a simple but magnificent dish. (Meal with wine £65. Rating 9/10)

[The Times](, 20 January
Giles Coren has another happy visit to the restaurant at Charlton House near Bath

The gravlax of scallops was a new departure for me… and was joyful. A cooked scallop is a ruined, a wasted, blasted scallop, and these creamy sweet slices in their pale mustard dressing were just perfect. Roast woodcock (with its scary head offered on the beak for brain-sucking) came with the most evocative, Christmassy chestnut ravioli and a scattering of braised crones, which turns out to be another word for Chinese artichokes (I had half-expected them to be served, just three of them, huddled round in a tiny cauldron, wondering what the weather would be like when they met again…). Plaice wrapped in venison ham is a dish I'll wager you won't see anywhere else in the world. Great for the plaice, a little lonely for the deer, but really good fun. (Three-course dinner menu £52.50. Rating 9.25/10)

[The Scotsman](, 20 January
The curse remains at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, reckons John Davidson, after checking out the Bistro at what is now the newest outpost of Hotel du Vin

One might say Bistro is patchy, but that's being unnecessarily kind. For one could just as readily say it's pretentious, expensive, misconceived and guilty of lavishing more attention on tricksy tableware than kitchen craft. It certainly doesn't outshine every previous occupant of this (potentially) glam room way out west. Oh, I could blame the new owners, their interior designers, or the kitchen brigade. Much kinder, I think, to cling to my resolute belief that this room is jinxed. (Dinner for two £75.65, excluding drinks)

[The Sunday Times](, 21 January
AA Gill thinks that Tom's Kitchen in Chelsea, London, is a better bet to take a date to than the flicks

According to a piece of market research by people who want to sell popcorn, a film and dinner is the most popular date in the country. Tom's Kitchen may well be the perfect after-movie restaurant. The dining room ticks almost all my new year's resolution boxes. It is frugally but comfortably decorated, dedicated to serving well-made, well-sourced and tasty food to locals at midweek prices and has attractive, informed and efficient staff. The menu is a moreish mix of English pub standards with a few slumming fine-dining princesses. I started with a big bowl of moules marinière - wonderfully plump bivalves. I felt like a serial mollusc-molester. For pudding we had a wonderful home-made yogurt with churros. At £6 it cost the same as a big bucket of styrofoam popcorn. (Rating: four out of five stars)

[The Observer](, 21 January
Jay Rayner is pleased to find that Adam Byatt is back on form at his new Clapham restaurant, Trinity, in south London

Each dish is listed by its three main ingredients, with supporting players beneath. So one might read, "oxtail, gnocchi, Parmesan", followed by "oxtail broth, buttered chanterelles, truffle chantilly". What arrived was a plate of fantastic oxtail stew with a powerful liquor and, in the middle, an earthy but cooling dollop of truffle-infused cream. "Pig, caper, rocket" was thin, round slices of pig's head, served onto a hot plate so the fat had begun to melt, strewn with the acid punch of capers, around a column of just-warm new potatoes. All these starters were between £6 and £8 for some serious cookery, and it occurs to me you could eat very well by ordering three or four of them. It is great to have a chef of this calibre back in the south London burbs. (Meal for two, including wine and service, £45)

[Metro, 24 January
Marina O'Loughlin is blown away by London's Magdalen in Tooley Street

The trio behind Magdalen are James Faulks (Fat Duck, Anchor & Hope), Emma Faulks (his missus; the Mandarin Oriental) and David Abbott (Le Manoir). They met when they all worked at La Trompette and, as is the way with ambitious young thangs, decided they would be better employed doing it for themselves. Here they've decided on a daily changing menu that presses all the right buttons: it's a cuddly, gimmick-free little document that makes you want to roam round it with the abandon of a free-range porker. As at the Anchor & Hope, there are dishes to share, such as slow-cooked shoulder of mutton with turnips and caper sauce for four people, or Longhorn beef Parmentier (posh cottage pie) for two. We shared what was simply described as "whole roast pheasant, chestnuts and bacon for two". This first-rate bird arrived with its breasts roasted and plated on the finest winter green vegetable I've encountered. Magdalen is a good example of what happens when enthusiasm meets a damn fine pedigree. (4 stars out of five. A meal for two with wine, water and service costs about £85).

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