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

07 October 2008 by

The Guardian, 4 October
Matthew Norman visits Murano, London W1
In an overdue bid to plug the gap in national life that has been left unfilled since the death of Marjorie Proops, I begin today with an answer to a reader's letter I've taken the liberty of making up: Leave him, love. You say that you have been together ages, and that you'd be nothing without him. All right, you're terrified of going it alone - who wouldn't be? But you also mention in your nonexistent letter that you turned 40 a couple of weeks ago, and even if life doesn't begin then, independence should. Girlfriend, he's stifling you. It's time to make the break. The recipient of this unwanted advice is Angela Hartnett, whose new restaurant, Murano, leaves an aftertaste I can't recall before. It's the poignant sense of a genuinely immense talent shackled by bonds of loyalty, in this case to the potty-mouthed svengali Gordon Ramsay.

The Times, 4 October
Giles Coren visits Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, London SW1

Marcus Wareing's original Pétrus restaurant at 33 St James's was the first restaurant I reviewed in a national publication. Marcus had come up the road from L'Oranger, a few doors down, and taken the place over in partnership with Gordon Ramsay, who had himself just left Aubergine to set up on his own on the site of the old Tante Claire in Royal Hospital Road. The scale of Ramsay's ambition at that time seemed staggering. Imagine: two restaurants!
Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley - review in full >>

The Independent on Sunday, 5 October
Terry Durack visists Min Jiang at the Royal Garden Hotel, London W8
From the 10th floor of the Royal Garden Hotel, you get a glorious view of Kensington Gardens and the Round Pond with its greylag geese and mute swans. But you're not here for the geese or the swans. You are here for the duck. Like its two sister restaurants in Singapore, London's newly opened Min Jiang is dedicated to the art of Beijing duck (get used to it - the Olympics weren't held in Peking). They will ask if you want to pre-order it when you ring, and ask again when you arrive. It could get annoying, but for one thing: the duck is very, very good.
Min Jiang - review in full >>

The Sunday Telegraph, 5 October
Zoe Williams visits The Old Vicarage, Ridgeway, Sheffield
I was meeting my cousin J in Sheffield (well, just outside), whom I never see because this is where she actually lives, and it was perhaps the sixth and final day of summer, and the waiter at the Old Vicarage had put us in the window with a view on to some greenery and horses, and all was well with the world. This place screams ‘wedding anniversary', only in a posh voice. And it's too genteel to scream. It's pretty chintzy, but welcoming and not prissy. The chef, Tessa Bramley, bustles about between restaurant, kitchen and an odd country-house chill-out room, looking like the traddest of trad English ladies, and then delivers experimental, Michelin-starred food. It's strange and more than averagely impressive, like learning your mum can speak Icelandic.
The Old Vicarage - review in full >>

areyoureadytoorder.co.uk
Jan Moir visits Bel Canto, London EC3
I hate restaurants with a concept, yet at Bel Canto the basic idea is a sound one, pardon le pun. Here, every evening, up-and-coming opera singers perform whilst serving a three course meal, which sounds convivial enough. At this very minute, however, bug-eyed S is choking over his snail cassolette as a quartet of strolling performers belt out Bella Figlia Dell'Amore from Rigoletto inches from his trembling ear. It is not a cultural experience he ever wants to repeat. Yet it is not the music that he objects to. Indeed, the pianist is tremendous, the young singers are very good. The food is…how can I put this? The food makes you want to hurl yourself off the nearest battlements. 'The cassolette,' gasps S, poking at some scraps of rubbery puddle life under a coffin flap of uncooked pastry, 'is one of the worst things that has ever been served to me in a restaurant.'
Bel Canto - review in full >>

By Janet Harmer E-mail your comments to Chris Druce here

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