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Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Tom's Kitchen and others

15 November 2006
Review of the reviews – what the critics say about Tom's Kitchen and others

Metro, 15 NovemberMarina O'Loughlin has her senses assaulted at Tom's Kitchen, London

Bloomberg.com, 10 NovemberRichard Vines is impressed by Tom Kitchen

Tom Aikens is much misunderstood. Or so his friends say. The British chef who once looked most likely to follow Gordon Ramsay to the culinary heights of three Michelin stars is now better known for his temper than his talent. That might be about to change. Aikens, 36, whose exploits include getting into an altercation with a diner he accused of stealing a spoon, has opened a brasserie near his fine-dining restaurant in London's Chelsea neighborhood and it is a triumph. Tom Aikens restaurant serves some of the most exciting and complex dishes in London, punching above its one-star Michelin weight. Tom's Kitchen serves relatively simple British food, with French and Italian influences. Not everyone will view dishes such as poached foie gras, duck and ham-hock garbure with lentils as simple. But there's also Caesar salad, macaroni and cheese, shepherd's pie and a cheeseburger at £10.50. All this is far removed from the complexities of the flagship restaurant, where what appears to be a straightforward set lunch menu turns out to be a multicourse adventure that among the senses only leaves hearing unassailed.

The Daily Telegraph, 11 NovemberBelinda Richardson goes in search of the perfect sausage at Bang! Sausage Bar & Grill in London, and the Trough at the Ginger Piggery in Warminster, Wiltshire

Of the five flavours we decided to share [at Bang!], the Daffy Dee (duck a l'orange) is the only one we can actually eat. You think you'd be safe with a Pork Honey and Mustard, but ours is flavourless, with a nasty, tight texture, and tastes as if it's been boiled for several days. What a joy, then to stumble upon the Ginger Piggery at Boyton Farm in Wiltshire the next day. Our sausages are nicely sticky and bronzed and, look like a couple of prize-fighting gladiators, served with a round circle of creamy, slightly crumbly mash and delicately nutmegged onion gravy. Made from 95% minced pork, enclosed in a natural casing, seasoned with herbs and spices and bound with rusk, the sausages have been fried slowly but are free of any greasy, grimy after-trail and have a handsome meaty flavour. Served with salad leaves in a walnut oil dressing and washed down with Wylye Valley wine, they remind us of what bangers and mash are all about. (Sausage and mash for two, without drinks or service - at Bang!, £16; at the Ginger Piggery, £10)

The Independent, 11 November
Tracey MacLeod checks out the East-meets-East Tamarai restaurant in London

This is food for the girls, with fish and seafood dishes outnumbering meat offerings by three to one. An appetiser of sweet chilli lotus root was by far the most satisfying dish we tried, each crisply fried slice exploding on the tongue in a delirious riot of garlic, sweet, salt and spice. More like a party nibble was a Malaysian-inspired salad of rare beef with chilli jam and green papaya, which my hungry guests snapped up in two mouthfuls. There's some decent cooking on offer here. (Meal for three, £200 including wine)

The Observer, 12 November
Jay Rayner does not enjoy the unfortunately named risotto restaurant Ooze, in Goodge Street, London

If only there had been a straight up saffron risotto on the menu, or one with wild mushrooms and nothing else. Instead, everything is overworked, and the risottos - priced from £8 to £10 - become less a medium than a base. The wild mushroom risotto comes inexplicably with cherry tomatoes. There's sea bass risotto with more cherry tomatoes, olives and basil. Or there's the one I tried (so you wouldn't have to), the all-day breakfast risotto: loose and watery (rather than creamy) rice, mined with fatty chunks of undercooked pancetta, two small Spanish sausages on top, and piled off to the side, a heap of warmed but not cooked cherry tomatoes. Buried inside was a poached egg which, when split, only added to the wateriness. (Meal for two, including wine and service, £60).

The Sunday Telegraph, 12 November
Zoe Williams senses the end of civilisation in London at former Tsunami chef Anthony Sousa Tam's Pimlico restaurant, Atami

The prawns [crispy prawn nest with roasted pineapple] were a reminder of what prawns ought to taste like in this era where they so seldom taste of anything. Their crispy, vermicelli-like coating gave them bite and interest without swamping them in starch, and there was a beautiful chilli-tinged mayonnaise - really, it was smashing. A's marble beef was a little more grown-up - more delicate slices, with an understated ponzu dressing. I've never known anyone bother to tempura a chive before as they did here. Delicious, but it's that kind of thing that makes you think civilisation is drawing to an end. (Rating: 7/10. Three courses, £40.95

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