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

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

The Guardian, 29 August
Matthew Fort describes the food at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, The Marina Villa Hotel, Fowey, Cornwall as perfectly judged, beautifully cooked and hugely satisfying

In spite of Outlaw's reputation as one of our more individualistic cooks, the dishes were pretty classical, with all poncing about subservient to flavour. The pigeon breast with the texture of foie gras and suede lay aboard a raft of creamy, floury beans with the braised leg meat shredded through them, along with sweet bacon and the refined acidity of sherry vinegar. It was a socko dish, muscular and elegant, with all the parts unobtrusively tailored together. I had never come across wreckfish (aka stone bass, line-caught off wrecks, of which there are plenty in these waters), but I'd be very happy to make its acquaintance again soon. It has an extraordinary density for a fish, almost like wood. Here it was cooked so the skin became a kind of divine marine crackling, as crunchy as a rim of frost on a pond. It paddled about in a sauce rich with mussel stock, turned amber by the saffron, with squares of fruity red peppers, thick discs of potato, plump mussels and black olives. (Around £40-45 per head at lunch, with drinks and service).

The Daily Telegraph, 29 August
Jasper Gerard enjoys one of the most technically accomplished and sensual lunches he has had in ages at La Becasse in Ludlow, Shropshire

The starter's pistol on a marathon lunch proper is fired by tender confit leg and smoked loin of lean rabbit. This is enlivened by tarragon mustard, which delivers a slightly piquant, peppery bite, and foie gras terrine so smooth Diana declares wistfully "it is like satin caressing your cheeks". Wow. Next a square plate with a throbbing red border bearing matching raspberries, with little balls of mouth-blowingly strong goat's cheese. This is softened by the sweetness of beetroot, raspberry purée and balsamic jelly. Oh, this is good. But such a deliciously complex dish is rendered dreary as fish paste by the following outrageous pleasure: fleshy halibut fillet with cauliflower. It is topped with diced, smoky yet sweet Morteau sausage, but the stand out flavour is curried lime emulsion. The plate's lip is sprinkled with crunchy honeycomb, while the fish poses on sautéed greens and chicken gravy. Here that unloved wallflower, cauliflower, is transformed into an A-list beauty. It comes in three guises: paper thin shavings of carpaccio, incredibly creamy purée and beignet, baby florets covered in light batter and deep fried. Sensational. (Lunch for two, £166. Rating: 4/5)
La Becasse - review in full >>

The Independent, 29 August
Tracey MacLeod finds some hit and miss elements to her lunch at The Nut Tree Inn, Murcott, Oxfordshire

The lunch that followed was frustrating because for every highlight, there was an element that was just a little off. A minimalist rectangle of chicken liver parfait, sprinkled with sea salt, would have been wonderful, had the toasted brioche that came with it not been burnt. Two plump and exquisite grilled scallops were partnered with a teardrop of lemon curd and an anaemic fennel salad; neither of which brought much to the party. Pan-fried fillet of wild sea bass - immaculately cooked - came with crushed new potatoes and a simple sauce vierge featuring tomatoes briefly acquainted with some basil; summery, certainly, but not quite delivering on the flavour front. No such complaint about the roast breast of Gressingham duck in a rich foie gras and port sauce; crisp of skin and full flavoured, it was very good, if not the ideal dish for one about to hit the changing rooms at the Marni outlet shop. (Around £35 a head, without wine. Rating: food 3/5, ambience 3/5, service 4/5).
The Nut Tree Inn - review in full >>
The Times, 29 August
Giles Coren believes he has discovered one of the best two or three oriental restaurants in England at Sojo, Oxford

Within minutes of our arrival, along with the ice-cold Tsingtao beers, came a platter of warm, fatty, crisp-skinned roast duck and belly pork, and pink, sweet, slightly drier char-siu with roasted peanuts. Then came an oval dish of Shanghai braised sweet soy pork hock: a central blade of shoulder bone, with firm meat and piles of the gorgeous, gelatinous cartilage and connective tissue of slow-cooked trotter. The flavours were so dense, sweet and savoury, with such depth to the complex spicing, that I could hardly believe we were tucked behind the ice-rink in poxy old smarty-pants Oxford, where they generally know about every damned thing under the sun apart from food. (Starters are £5-6, mains are around £7-8. Rating: repertoire 9/10, cooking 9/10, given its location 10/10. Overall score 9.33/10)
Sojo - review in full >>

By Janet Harmer

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