The Guardian, 2 May
Matthew Norman highly rates the Wellington Arms in Baughurst, Hampshire, as "one of those labour-of-love joints that have you cooing with pleasure"
Simon runs the front of house, while Aussie-born Jason looks after the kitchen, and it feels like dining at the house of friends. Regulars bring in their fruit to be turned into conserves, lending a Darling Buds Of May aura, and in its local sourcing, simplicity and accuracy of cooking, and glossy mag presentation, the food is pretty much perfick….I went for home-reared rack of saddleback pork, which came with crackling and bashed root vegetable mash, and was bursting with the deep, sweet flavour of a pig that knew no sadness. Her seared Bombay duck breast, on puy lentils with semi-caramelised red cabbage, was also sensational.
The Independent, 2 May
Tracey MacLeod has mixed feeling about High Timber in London EC4 - she finds a great wine list and a spectacular Thames-side location, but says the food, although decent, is not memorable
Our starters were hit and miss; roasted scallops with apple salsa showed precision and flair, but a trencherman portion of bloated ceps served on chargrilled sourdough was a rather hefty and one-note plateful. A special of lobster ravioli - served wonton-style in a broth - also lacked finesseâ¦.Gills are at the heart of the main course menu; in this case steaks, from Andrew Sharp in Cumbria, aged for a minimum of 28 days, and served with a choice of sauces, from Bearnaise to Perigord truffle butter. We tried two of the four cuts on offer - sirloin and rump, at £17 and £19 respectively. Served on wooden boards, they had a good char, but didn't quite deliver enough steaky flavour. There was also a touch of the mixed grill about the trimmings, which included vast, pillowy onion rings that seemed to be all ring and no onion, and a spray of cherry tomatoes roasted on the vine, so that the skins had split unappetisingly.
High Timber - review in full >>
The Observer, 3 May
Jay Rayner says The Red Lion in East Chisenbury, Wiltshire, may be a thatched country pub, but "the food is big and bold and thoroughly cosmopolitan"
A sea-green bowl of brassic nettle soup, from locally foraged nettles, was lifted above and beyond itself by the inclusion of crisp chunks of Japanese-style pickled radish. A slow-cooked tranche of mackerel came on a fine dice of olive, chorizo and fresh, almost green, almonds. A loose but perfectly cooked risotto of wild garlic, with a moat of red wine sauce, was topped by a herd of snails, curled in on themselves and without even a hint of rubberiness. Best of all, though, was a dish of steamed bream - and if I get to experience a better piece of fish cookery this year I will be both bloody surprised and bloody lucky: the fish, pristine and nun-like in its virginal cleanliness, came on a lightly acidic chive beurre blanc dotted with cockles, slices of razor clam and small pieces of baby gem lettuce, the spine of each leaf giving a crunch that lifted this plateful of food far above the mundane. God but it was good.
The Red Lion - review in full >>
Sunday Times, 3 May
Rachel Johnson enjoys a heavenly combination of fresh fish and idyllic views at Hix Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis Dorset This must be the most romantic address and breathtaking location of any restaurant in Dorset, or indeed, the whole of England. Yes, it was a day of pearly luminescence, with the spring sun bouncing off plump green hills and sheer cliffs, with seagulls wheeling in the sky and the sea a soft, sheeny blue, and everything looks better in the sunshine. But the restaurant is perched on a steep hill above the Cobb and has a deck like the prow of a ship, complete with prow and flagpole, where you can sit and sip Manzanilla, and slip the sea down your throat while watching the fishing smacks chug in and out, and the toddlers paddle in the strand below. It is impossible not to feel a faint twinge of wellbeing. Our oyster count was three Helford River, six Portland Royal and four Colchester, but I'd also greedily ordered the baked spider crab starter (£12.75, more than enough for two). Sitting at the bar on the poop deck, screening out the mini-golf off the port bow and the teenagers snogging under the prow, waiting for the Macon Blanc to arrive, dipping the home-made white bread thickly spread from a pat of cheesy yellow butter into the crab shell - well, this was about as good as it gets.
Hix Oyster & Fish House - review in full >>
By Janet Harmer
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