What's on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews
The Guardian, 13 June
Matthew Norman describes the conception and execution of The Wine Theatre, 202-206 Union Street, London SE1, as idiotic and cack-handed
Bereft of a single punter when we arrived (the traffic peaked at seven), the room looked tragic even beyond the dreams of designers who did their bit by mingling cheap wooden furniture with stripy, red-and-black Regency wallpaper, a mock marble wall, artsy photographs on easels, snaps of a girl smoking suggestively, prints of the opera house at Asti, and wine bottles in showcases. To be scrupulously fair, visually it isn't a car crash; it's a motorway pile-up tailing back 17 miles to junction 11…My Mediterranean squid salad involved strips of white rubber of the kind I occasionally find myself staring at in mystification in the hardware shop. "Can I try some?" my friend asked. I put my hand to his forehead, but he was cool as a cucumber, so I passed over a strip. "Yup, just wanted to be sure. Like eating a well lubricated Durex."
The Times, 13 June
Giles Coren has a great lunch followed by a very poor dinner at Il Baretto, 43 Blandford Street, London W1
The vitello tonnato was good. The very rare, wafer-thin veal (not, for some reason, described as a "carpaccio") was dressed in a light, not overly fishy tuna sauce, with good, tangy caper action. There were two nice fat scallops on their shells, oven-baked "Venetian style", which implies chopped parsley, garlic and breadcrumbs, and a small burrata, that milky foetus of mozzarella, which was fine but not of the very bestâ¦Had that been my only visit to Il Baretto, I think I would have written very positively about it. And I will say, quite truthfully, that it's a good place to loll with a pal in the cool basement while the pavement swelters above, and get drunk and talk rubbish and eat decent Italian food. But go in the evening, with your partner, and I hope to hell you don't experience the car crash Esther and I did when I took her there for dinner a couple of days later.
Il Baretto - review in full >>
The Independent, 13 June
Tracey MacLeod finds the food at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, London SW1, is technically good, but does not quite reach the heights she had hoped for
My own veal sweetbread with Swiss chard and roasted celeriac was impeccable, a showcase for Wareing's serious, classically inspired technique. His style of cooking isn't particularly directional; there are no games or jokes. But neither is there a huge amount of personality in his food; we were enjoying the meal, but it wasn't quite hitting the expected heights. So it continued with the main courses, and again it was Fleur - the evening's guest of honour - who was underwhelmed. Her Welsh suckling pig, slow-cooked for 24 hours, was a wonderful thing of melting softness and richness. But about the rest of the dish, Fleur was merciless. "The crackling, I could have done myself. And it's all just too dry."
The Berkeley - review in full >>
The Observer, 14 June
Jay Rayner loves the simplicity of Crabshakk, Glasgow
Brown crab claws - three for £5.95 - were just that: pre-cracked claws, yielding up thick, sweet meat, with a bowl of mayo to dip them in. Six halves of langoustine, lightly grilled with garlic butter (but also available cold) had been cooked sensitively and accurately. Best of all were their crab cakes. The term is bandied about casually for any puck-shaped object, from those which are half-crab, half-filler right down to that which might only have been on nodding terms with a crab. These, however, were the real thing: carefully seasoned discs of white crabmeat, seared off top and bottom, and nothing else.
Crabshakk - review in full >>
By Janet Harmer
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