The Daily Telegraph, 25 April
Jasper Gerard enthuses that the chef-proprietor of the eponomously named Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham "is the most wildly inventive chef to emerge from Britain since Heston Blumenthal"
After an amuse-bouche, we get down to hard work with scallop and new season asparagus grown and delivered by the postie. The scallop is covered with black herring roe reclining on tiny asparagus spears, with crunchy hazelnut adding texture. Good, but the next course is great: crab bisque with pickled turnip and brown butter ice cream. Outlandish combinations can clash but this is a love match even though, like all the best marriages, it is slightly sour. Apparently the next dish contains everything a duck would eat, so I must be seriously malnourishing my ducks because they aren't fed anything this fine. In a mini preserving jar filled with cream of sweetcorn and basil oil, we find caramelised popcorn rolled in gingerbread. Hidden below is a mouthful of duck liver. Crunchy, sweet and refreshing: duck liver royale.
Restaurant Sat Bains - review in full >>
The Guardian, 25 April
Matthew Norman enjoys wonderful flavours at affordable prices at Terroirs in London WC2, where charcuterie is the highlight of the Fanco-tapasy menu
All the charcuterie was magnificent, in fact, not least a terrine studded with pistachios, as were buttery, peppery potted brown shrimps. But the coup de grâce was something new to me. The last and only time I used the phrase "to die for", a reader rightly wrote to chide me for the cliché. Now I use it literally about the duck scratchings. With every mouthful of crunchy, unspeakably delicious roasted fat, the damage to the coronary arteries must be enough to provoke the nearby Ministry of Health into launching a War on Terroirs. But as the Doctor put it, on breathing fresh energy into an apparently dead Tardis, "That cost me 10 years of my life … and it was worth every minute."
The Times, 25 April
Giles Coren declares Babington House, near Frome, Somerset, as "the only truly good hotel that I have ever known"
And the restaurant was terrific. No Michelin stars, just a big airy brasserie, full of light from vast windows through which the green and blue of field and sky had plenty of room to pour. And the room had a buzz. An actual buzz. Like in a big city. And the menu was like a big-city menu, too: totally confident, relaxed, eclectic and enticing. I ate excellent pizza, brilliant breakfasts (kippers, boiled eggs, soldiers, marmalade, good coffee), a great veal chop, Cornish crab with cucumber and proper mayonnaise, a juicy pigeon with braised red cabbage, there was very good halibut with Jerusalem artichokes, monkfish, breamâ¦ and vegetarians are well catered for, and children as well, obviously, and the wine list is brief but sophisticated, and, and, andâ¦ Oh, I just wanted never to have to leave.
Babington House - review in full >>
The Independent on Sunday, 26 April
Terry Durack says Sir Michael Parkinson may own The Royal Oak in Paley Street, Berkshire, but the real star of the pub-restaurant is head chef Dominic Chapman The kitchen's attention to the seasons is obvious in a lightly frothy new-season's garlic soup (£6.50), studded with wild mushrooms and cleverly offset by a toast soldier of intensely salty anchovy paste. Not at all seasonal is macaroni cheese with ham hock (£8), which lifts what can so easily be mindless stodge into a treat of perfectly cooked small pasta and shredded ham hock in a light, creamy, Gruyère-scented sauce. The old "he's having meat, she's having fish" conundrum is solved by a light, fruity, smoky Trimbach Alsatian Pinot Noir (£26) taken from the sturdy, Bordeaux-strong list. It takes both dishes in its stride, particularly the picture-pretty red mullet (£21). Sensitively cooked and arranged on fat little soused cockles, mussels and seaweed-like strands of samphire, it's like a day at the seaside.
The Royal Oak - review in full >>
By Janet Harmer
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