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What' s on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

19 October 2009
What' s on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

The Daily Telegraph, 17 October
Jasper Gerard finds a lot to like about John Torode's new restaurant, The Luxe in London E1, but quibbles about the price

The Luxe's menu makes Simon Cowell's birthday party look good value. Towards the end of the 19th century Spitalfields was regarded as the worst criminal rookery in London, a reputation Torode seems keen to restore by charging £29 for a steak. But there is lots to laud and this is already a foodie destination. Housed in a redbrick Victorian building, The Luxe is breathtaking, with beautiful silk screen wallpaper decorated with bird motifs…Diana is served a broth in floral, old-fashioned china, of roast chicken, sour cream and dill. Lovely, light and aromatic, it is a treasure trove of onion, parsley, carrot, celery and dumplings. Our guest coos over woody Jerusalem artichoke soup with girolles and truffles redolent of nose-tingling October walks. I'm also cheered by my roast quail/foie gras combination. Unusually for a starter it comes with matchstick chips, though it could perhaps do with more foie gras and red wine jus, as could my grouse. It is crisp to the point of sunburnt like a game old bird presenting a holiday show. How autumnal. It tastes OK, but it's a little overdone. Ditto Diana's braised pork cheeks with red cabbage and "autumn fruits". The carrots, onions and herbs all add flame to these warming flavours, but is such a cheap cut worth £17? (Lunch for three, £130. Rating: 3/5).

The Independent on Sunday, 18 October
Lisa Markwell is unsure about the artwork, but says the food is sublime at Mark Hix's new venture, Hix in London W1

Mr M and I start with a couple of oysters each, just because. The Maldon Rocks (£1.95 each) are briny and fresh, but the West Mersea natives (£3.75 each) are properly dazzling. I'd eat another half-dozen, but save myself for my starter proper - partridge on toast with salsify and elderberries (£9.75). Game can be a little dry but the meat is tender as you like, a perfect match for the crisp toast and the intense savoury flavour of the berries. I want to eat it all over again, and resent the single mouthful I give Mr M. He has mixed beets with goat's cheese, water celery and pickled walnuts (£9.25). The veg are a shade too firm for my liking, but the marriage of tastes is winning… I earwig on the artwork explanation - it turns out that the mobiles dotted around the room's ceiling are by Damien Hirst, Gary Webb and Sarah Lucas among others, so even though they look more than a little bonkers, they have… provenance. (Price for two, with wine, about £120. Rating: 16/20)
Hix - review in full >>

The Observer, 18 October
Jay Rayner says Aqua Nueva in London W1 is a restaurant from a different era with a ton of money being spent on the look of the place at the expense of the kitchen and the concept

All fur coat and no knickers? Not exactly. I'll allow them a thong, because a couple of the things we ate were impressive. Iberico ham croquettes, from the tapas menu, are usually heavy creatures, on account of trying to get the cylinder of béchamel into the deep fat fryer in one piece. Here, it was practically liquid, an extraordinary achievement. They hand-cut their ham very well and serve it at the right temperature. My starter, a complex if ultimately overwrought dish, brought warm jelly domes of truffled consommé, filled with egg yolk. Clever? Undoubtedly. Another starter of lobster and crispy pork on a chickpea purée was great on texture but poor on flavour. The lobster, the pork and the chickpeas all managed not to taste very much of themselves, which is irritating for £12, and even more so for the lobster. A tranche of sea bass, accurately cooked, was booted from one side of the plate to the other by an overly salty broth. Across the top lay a thin, transparent flap of jelly, a redundant modernist touch which brought nothing to the dish and reminded me of the fake skin they use in burns units. This is not a good thing. (Meal for two, including wine and service, £120).
Aqua Nueva - review in full >>
The Sunday Times, 18 October
AA Gill enjoys the best and most agreeable dinner he has eaten all year at The Kitchin in Edinburgh

The menu I was given was an immediate, intense joy of unforced, ingredient-led innovation and common sense. I didn't know where to start. And while I thought about it, I ordered roast bone marrow with snails, a longitudinally sawn shin, delicately baked, with the addition of fat snails, chanterelles and a parsley and onion salad. The snails poached with cardamom and star anise and fennel seeds and a dab of garlic sauce. I took a mouthful and knew that I couldn't traverse life's highlands with someone who didn't love this dish more than they loved me. It just evoked those formless words that are an open sandwich of a consonant, followed by a long line of vowels. Emma had a pig's head. Obviously not personally, but on a plate. A pig's head with langoustine. It came with a sort of rÁ¶sti made out of crispy ears. Sweet, bottom-feeding crustacea have always gone well with pork, but this is the best, most inspired and craftsmanlike coming together of these unlikely soulmates. (Rating: 5/5).
The Kitchin - review in full >>

By Janet Harmer

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