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

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

The Guardian, 19 September
Matthew Norman says Karachi in Bradford deserves an epic poem for turning out great food at incredibly low prices, decade after decade

Karachi - review in full >>

The Independent, 19 September
John Walsh enjoys the Kensington Wine Rooms in London W8, but the opportunity to experiment with so many wines sends his bill sky high

My starter of pan-fried prawns with spicy chorizo and broad beans was a mélange of bits: the prawns were hot and juicy, the chorizo slices a touch over-fried and tepid (they clearly hadn't shared a pan with the prawns) and the beans boringly unseasoned. My friend Robert's grilled calamari with rocket and walnuts looked excitingly stark and monochrome but also disappointed: some of the squid roundels were burnt at the edges, the dressing wasn't strong enough to mask the charry pong, and the advertised walnuts were hard to detect anywhere. The wine, however, made up for it. Given the raison d'etre of the restaurant, it seemed rude not to drink as much as possible. We chose some wines to accompany The Ordering of the Food: I tried a Bourgogne Blanc that was bursting with melony fruit and amazingly refreshing. Robert had an Arbois Chardonnay and liked its biscuity top note. Then - only because the menu has suggested it - we ordered more: my friend had the Vouvray Sec, a dry Loire the management recommends with calamari, and we decided, Yup, that goes just fine with slightly burnt squid. (About £65-90 for two, depending on wine consumption. Rating: food 3/5, ambience 4/5, service 4/5).
Kensington Wine Rooms - review in full >>

The Times, 19 September
Giles Coren searches for good Lebanese food and finds it in abundance at Chez Marcelle, London W14

Tabouleh and fattoush were both freshly chopped and freshly dressed - a world away from the boxed and fridge-cold standard we've come to fear and loathe. The unpoetically titled "hommos meat" was beautifully sweet hummus topped with warm, newly grilled shards of lamb, one of my favourite hors d'oeuvres in all the world when done this well. The sujuk (spicy beef sausages) were plump and new and juicy, the foul bezeit (broad beans in lemon juice with garlic and coriander) were very good, and the moujadara (rice and lentils) even better, with all the heartiness of Jamaican rice and peas…The wine is a weak point: much of what is on the list is not available, and much of what is has not been well kept. Service can be erratic, the atmosphere lurches between the hectic and the non-existent, but when you add to that food that is prepared to order with great expertise, experience and love then, well, I guess it's as close to eating in someone's home as you're going to get. (£40 for three people, with no wine. Rating: cooking 8/10, service 4/10, value 9/10, overall score 7/10)
Chez Marcelle - review in full >>
The Observer, 20 September
Jay Rayner is disappointed that Gary Rhodes venture Rhodes South in Christchurch, Dorset, lacks the presence of the main man himself

Allowing for the fact that it took me four attempts to get anyone to pick up the phone so I could book, it's all very professional. Lots of young men in sharp suits. Lots of fish cooked accurately. No over-adornment. But for the price you want more than professional (the wine list in particular is a disgrace, lurching from £19.50 a bottle to "Would sir please put his testicles in this vice" in one lazy bound). You want soul. So I can admire the technique with which an egg, served alongside a salad of potato and local crab, is first poached then coated and deep fried so that the yolk still runs. But I am left wondering where the punchy flavours are. Another salad of cubed, citrus-cured salmon, served as an anal-retentive rectangle on the plate, was fresh and bright but didn't deliver on the promise of lime, vanilla and fennel. (Meal for two, with wine and service, £120).
Rhodes South - review in full >>
By Janet Harmer

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