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

27 July 2009 by
What's on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

The Daily Telegraph, 25 July
Jasper Gerard recognises he may be unpopular to say it, but St John, London EC1, is now "a bit so-so"

At St John, I never feel that loved… Staff are efficient but a bit didactic about their "philosophy": is it a coincidence Marxism Today was based upstairs? And what's so amazing about great hunks of slain animal presented without dressing? Talk about emperor's clothes. Where, as politicians like to ask of schools, is "the value added"? Quality ingredients are faithfully cooked, but we dine out seeking theatre not telly; culinary challenge, not confirmation of prejudice. And not asparagus and hot butter for £7.20…My potted beef is faultless: the cornichons and cress add a vinegary and peppery flavour. But what else is there to write about? Diana's generous chunks of hake with cubes of sourdough are fine with "green sauce" (anywhere less self-consciously artisan and British might call this "salsa verde"). (Lunch for two: £85.40, including service. Rating: 3/5)

The Guardian, 25 July
Matthew Norman finds the experience of locating and eating at pop-up restaurant Frank's Café & Campari Bar, Peckham multisorey car park, London SE15, quite surreal

Arms were raised in triumph as we approached, and mentioned to a sweet young, possibly trustafarian chap that the odyssey had given us an appetite. "Ah," he said, "we haven't got much actual food. It's lunchtime, you see…" But your website… "Yeah, but we were busy last night. And it's expensive to fire up the grill." We glanced sardonically at the bags of charcoal sat in a supermarket trolley by the bar. "We can do you cold vegetables with anchovy sauce. And there's really nice cake."We slumped at a table garlanded with overflowing ashtrays, and the young chap brought over Camparis. "Look," he said, possibly connecting us to the photographer's visit the previous day, "I've decided to fire up the grill after all." The meal that ensued was in effect a picnic, albeit one from the surrealist imaginings of an earlier Paloma-siring artist. As crab on toast, gazpacho and cold grilled lamb arrived, so did the rain, cunningly slanted to evade the tarpaulin. (Price per head with drinks: £15-20)
Frank's Café & Campari Bar - review in full >>
The Independent, 25 July
Tracey Macleod love the food and setting at The Restaurant at St Paul's, St Paul's Cathederal, London EC4, but finds the service desperately waning

Both fish dishes we tried scored full marks for imagination and execution. Pollock, usually encountered only as a cod substitute in fish and chips, was here roasted in a spiced cep crust, and served with blanched samphire and cucumber. Even better was seared sea trout, its skin crisp and its salty orange flesh sympathetically partnered with a pale, frugal salad of shaved fennel, shallot and yellow beans, dressed with verjuice. After a run of dessert menus featuring the same dreary options it was refreshing to encounter something a bit different here, including a "sandwich" of dense, dark gingerbread around honey ice-cream, from the owners' own hives in Regent's Park. A lemon verbena pie - less shrill than the classic lemon tart - had apparently been baked with the filling in, leaving the pastry heavy, but a roulade version of Eton Mess was the perfect light summer dessert. (Two courses £16, three courses £20. Rating: food 4/5, ambience 3/5, service 2/5)
The Restaurant at St Paul's - review in full >>
The Observer, 26 July
Jay Rayner loves the mood of Casamia, Bristol, which is all about encouraging customers to have a nice time

At lunch three courses is a storming £20. In the evening it is just £28. For what you get, that is wonderful value…What matters here is artfully plated dishes, almost all of which deliver. The sometimes cloying sweetness of the main ingredient in a beetroot risotto, the colour of Paris Hilton's bed sheets, is offset by both shaved and pickled fennel and a quenelle of frozen yogurt. A sprinkle of bright-green pistachios obviously adds colour and texture, but something else, too. This is a dish of layers: sweetness first, then the acidity of the fennel and yogurt, and finally the toasted tones of those nuts. But then they like their nuts at Casamia. There are caramelised almonds with two pieces of artery-red pigeon, cooked sous vide, served with a fluid gel of coffee. It's a clever study of sweet and bitter. There are also hazelnuts with a perfectly roasted saddle of venison, which comes with a creamy fricassée of tiny mushrooms, a pool of apple purée and another of celery root. (Meal for two, including wine and service, £100).
Casamia - review if full >>
By Janet Harmer

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