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

19 November 2009
What's on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

Bloomberg, 16 November
Richard Vines highlights four fine new eateries in Canary Wharf, starting with Jamie's Italian at 2 Churchill Place, London E14

Jamie's Italian has joined the eateries in recent weeks, along with Wahaca, Roka and Canteen. It's good for those who work at Canary Wharf, though a trek for the rest of us for whom the Docklands Light Railway provides a smooth ride into concrete canyons where it's easier to get lost than to follow the maps. It's easy to see the attraction of the friendly faces and prices, with snacks from £2.75 and pasta mains for less than £10. It's an operation that's as slick as it appears casual. The snacks include fabulous marinated sardines with fresh garlic, lemon, parsley and a touch of chili. The Parmesan chunks with balsamic vinegar demonstrate the high quality of the produce. Spaghetti Bolognese is a simple dish well done, the ragu of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti and Parmesan enlivened by crunchy bread crumbs. Let's pass on the chewy hamburger that couldn't be rescued by a mountain of salad, and the house wines "bought by us in eco-friendly Tetra Pak cartons and decanted for you." Decanted? (Rating: 3/4).

Metro, 18 November
Marina O'Loughlin doesn't get what all the fuss is about concerning Mark Hix's new restaurant Hix at 66-70 Brewer Street, London W1, finding the food ordinary and the welcome chilly

The place looks great (but then so did Aaya, its previous, short-lived Japanese incumbent). There are witty pieces of modern British art everywhere, a Hix trademark: neon and pie tins and mini pickled fish. The menu, too, is modern British, unrelentingly butch, rammed with unimpeachable produce and designed to get the urbane foodie frothing at the gills. But the food isn't good enough, ranging from ordinary to, well, grim. ‘Heaven and earth' is a dish I've loved in German brauhauses as himmel und erde: rough blood sausage on apple-laced mash. Here, the black pudding is so soft and fleshy, with a weird undertaste of wintergreen or embrocation, it reminds me of fresh scab.. Worst of all is hanger steak, usually a tough, flavoursome cut. Tough, sure, but it tastes of nothing. It's like chewing raw stewing steak from a shrink-wrapped polystyrene tray. Even our waiter agrees. (A meal for two with wine, water and service, costs about £110. Rating: 2/5).
www.metro.co.uk/metrolife/food/article.html?Restaurant_fails_to_clear_the_bar_at_Hix&in_article_id=771652&in_page_id=26" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Hix - review in full >>

Time">http://www.metro.co.uk/metrolife/food/article.html?Restaurant_fails_to_clear_the_bar_at_Hix&in_article_id=771652&in_page_id=26)Time Out, 19 November
Euan Ferguson describes everything about gastropub Orange at 37-39 Pimlico Road, London SW1, as being just about spot on**

The kitchen makes full use of its wood-fired oven, so we ordered a pizza to pitch it against the high standards of another recent new restaurant, Pizza East in Shoreditch. Although it's not trying to compete in terms of authenticity (there's a Cumberland sausage, fennel and manchego cheese version), it was still a winner: a crisp base, rich tomato sauce and garlicky marinated prawns. Our other main was a butterflied leg of lamb, chargrilled with oregano, garlic and cherry tomatoes and a jus of inky depth. The meat was perfectly pink in the middle and satisfyingly black and crusty on the outside; it could have done with a side dish for variation, if not satiation - it was a generous portion, but the wood-roasted butternut squash with sage and chilli (£3.50) looked tempting. (Meal for two, with wine and service, around £70. Rating: 5/5).
Orange - review in full >>

Evening Standard, 19 November
Fay Maschler says Mennula at 10 Charlotte Street, London W1, is a great addition to the local restaurant scene

A first course of red mullet, fresh orange, baby spinach heated just until it had knuckled under and almonds was a perfect array of flavours and textures, one of those dishes that make you sit up and think again about the potential for pleasure in dining. Cauliflower soup with Gorgonzola and black olives had a texture more like purée than soup. The combination of innocuous but subtle vegetable, feisty cheese and wicked black olive judiciously balanced was a triumph. "Balance" was a word also invoked in the reaction to baby artichokes with a fonduta made from Ragusano, a Sicilian raw cows' milk cheese. Sprinkled with arugula, it was admired for its greeny, zesty richness and for the tame temperature. "I love tepid," said the recipient. In the main course, thoughtfulness, innovation and dexterous matching don't let up. Roasted halibut is served with wilted lettuce, a rather peculiar but pleasing cobbling together of crab, potatoes and capers. Fillet of Scottish beef, a handsome, almost square chunk of meat, is flattered by accompaniments of celeriac and wild mushrooms. Now, as I re-read the menu, I wonder why I didn't choose mallard with chard and a risotto made of black truffle-scented Carnaroli rice. Next time.(A la carte meal for two, with wine and 12.5% service, about £100. Rating: 4/5).
Mennula - review in full >>

By Janet Harmer

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