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

12 March 2009
What's on the Menu – A round-up of the latest London reviews

Bloomberg, 6 March
Richard Vines visits Bar Trattoria Semplice, London W1, & Dolada, London W1

Bar Trattoria Semplice is as good an advertisement for Italian food in London as the most expensive restaurants, which isn't to criticize fine establishments such as River Cafe. It's just to add a little financial perspective. Semplice imports its ingredients and wines direct from small regional producers and allows the quality to speak for itself. Dishes are uncluttered, the elements kept to a minimum and the flavors as distinct and harmonious as you might hope to find in an idyllic eatery in the hills of Tuscany. The prices are as unfancy as the dishes. The set lunch is 14.50 pounds ($20.44) for three courses, with wine and coffee. A la carte, main courses are less than 15 pounds. It's quite different off nearby Bond Street at another new Italian eatery, Dolada. The lunch there is 32 pounds, without wine or coffee.

Evening Standard, 11 March
Rowan Moore visits El Pirata Detapas, London W2

It is a marvellous thing, the eradication of fascism. Apart from ending torture, the taking of political prisoners and the worship of short, fat men in military uniforms, it enables a country to turn the world's view of it completely around. So it is that we now take it for granted that Spain should be represented by poised contemporary design and cuisine, when a generation ago its image was formed by plastic bulls and Manuel in Fawlty Towers. The long transformation, via the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the films of AlmodÁ³var, and the fabled alchemical concoctions of El Bulli, is complete. If Generalissimo Franco had cast his succession in his own likeness, in other words, El Pirata Detapas would not now be standing in Westbourne Grove, at least not with its darkly elegant interior and its completely charming and relaxed staff. A Spanish restaurant in London would be a more lugubrious and burdened place.
El Pirata Detapas - review in full >>

Metro, 10 March
Marina O'Loughlin visits Cinnamon Kitchen, London EC2

As far as the food is concerned, I don't think there's a missed beat throughout our meal at Cinnamon Kitchen. You're left actively pining for some of the flavours: the fresh, coconutty chutney served with buttery, pillowy naan, fragrant with saffron, for one. All the breads, in fact, and all the chutneys - the intense tomato one, or the sour-sweet tamarind version - are so gorgeous we immediately order two lots, one after the other. Not that this puts us off diving head first into the rest of the menu. There's something about the spicing here: fiery, vivid, assertive - but with real elegance - that piques your appetite into more of a gorge-fest than you might otherwise be planning. Your palate is never allowed a moment's boredom.
Cinnamon Kitchen - review in full >>

Time Out, 12 March
Cyrus Shahrad visits Zeytoon, London NW2

In Iran, when friends ask how dinner at a restaurant went, the polite response is: 'Your place [at the table] was empty'. Not that there were many empty places on our weekend visit to Zeytoon, the mostly Iranian customers constantly rising from their chairs to snap pictures of the surrounding cultural clutter, all of it carefully orchestrated to strum the heartstrings of nostalgic post-Revolutionary exiles. That's as true of the elaborate framed tapestries and artful brick arches painted with traditional Persian scenes as it is of the cavernous tea counter, the latter sporting an enormous working samovar, shelves piled high with ornamental teapots and a bearded old timer seemingly plucked from Tehran's central bazaar.
Zeytoon - review in full >>

By Janet Harmer

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