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

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

The Daily Telegraph, 5 December
Jasper Gerard enjoys the Galvin brothers impeccably created French cooking at their newly opened eaterie, Galvin La Chapelle, London E1

My starter was simple but lovely: a salad of red-leg partridge. Sweet maple dressing over fleshy, caramelised bird worked wonderfully, lifted further by smoky bacon and acidic pomegranate. An ice-skating judge would declare this a faultless six. Diana's lasagne of Dorset crab, chanterelles and chervil would also have earned praise, though marked down for artistic impression. The cylindrical lasagne curled at the edges, suggesting it was cooked in an undersized utensil. The pasta sheets were nicely buttery and thinner even than Peter Andre's CV, while the mushroom jus was made more robust with a touch of truffle oil; very slurpable. I expected my slow-cooked lamb shoulder and herb ravioli to be similarly dainty, but weirdly the menu meandered from the classically French to red-blooded Basque. This dish was all about the huge, manly meat, the scattering of four ravioli pieces an over-salted afterthought to succulent lamb and punchy red peppers. (Lunch for two: £114.19, including service. Rating: 4/5).

The Times, 5 December
Giles Coren loves everything about Seven Park Place at the St James's Hotel, London SW1, a restaurant he decsribes as a serious, grown up place for people who eat out a lot and want a treat

Our table and general space were big, roomy, plush. I felt good. I had a Manhattan and Esther had a Bellini. And we hit the six-course tasting menu, which at £59, or under a tenner a course, struck me as perfectly well priced. Clever old Christophe didn't bring us an amuse-bouche, which was surprising and wonderfully welcome. It meant we were clean and pure for the first course of stunning, thinly sliced raw scallops, cellar-cool and lychee-sweet, dressed with a light but muscular truffle vinaigrette and little cubes of artichoke which were bang on the season and gave some crunch and zip to the eating. The next stage stayed white, but got a little creamier and richer. A perfect lobster tortellini got its autumnal earthy bump-up not from artichoke but from a cauliflower purée and a little silhouette of cauliflower browned quickly on (I guess) a dry pan to give it woody, almost coal-smoke notes. Then white beans, with onions and bacon, just a little dab, nicely rich and rustic. With a lobe of seared foie gras on top. Yes, yes, I know. Go away. I'm eating posh for once. There's always going to be foie gras. And I loved the way the old bean stew brought the hoity-toity goose liver down to my level, and stripped it of its airs and graces. (£190 for six courses, five glasses of good wine, coffee and service. Rating: cooking 9/10, service 9/10, swagger 9/10; overall score 9/10).
Seven Park Place - review in full >>

The Independent on Sunday, 6 December
Toby Young recommends the authentic Sicilian food, lovingly prepared by the talented Santino Busciglio at Mennula, London W1

My companion - a political fixer - opts to start with squid accompanied by potato sauce, peppers, capers and tapenade, while I cannot resist the in-season white Alba truffle grated over tagliatelle. Admittedly, this adds £25 to the bill and customers are supposed to be limited to five grams of this ambrosia, but the head waiter is happy to keep grating until I tell him to stop. Both first courses are a great success, particularly the squid. For my main course, I have calf's liver served on a little mound of mashed potato and accompanied by spinach, onion marmalade and speck, while my friend has pork belly with polenta, black cabbage and apple chutney. The calf's liver is perfectly cooked and full of rich, earthy flavours, but the presentation on the plate is a little too fussy, making the quantity appear smaller than it is. Again, my companion is more than happy with his choice, claiming it is well worth suspending his diet for. I end up with the Sicilian cassata - a layered sponge with chocolate, ricotta and candied fruits - while my friend has the cannoli filled with ricotta, prompting him to quote The Godfather again: "Leave the gun, take the cannoli." The cannoli is the undoubted star here. (Around £100 for two, including wine and service. Rating: 15/20).
Mennula - review in full >>
The Observer, 6 December
Jay Rayner says the Farmcafé & Foodmarket in Woodbridge, Suffolk, should be sanctified for serving a great breakfast

The dense-textured, dry-cured bacon speaks of an animal that lived a happy life, as it should do here on the dark rutted earth of the Suffolk Wolds, which supports so many of them. The sausages are a victory of properly seasoned meat over crumbly filler, and they know exactly how to sauté a button mushroom. Better still are the rare joys of the British breakfast. There is a local kipper from one of the great smoke houses that dot the Suffolk shore, properly grilled and with a light, balanced cure. There are even, praise be, devilled kidneys. The grain mustard-boosted sauce is rich and powerful and soaks into the toasted granary in a way that makes it a profound pleasure. Most importantly, the dainty organs are not overcooked to a grotesque rubberiness. What is really striking is the attention to detail. A summer fruits smoothie is simply the best of the recent crop, frozen and blitzed in a mixer. The jams are local and include an uncompromising dark marmalade, full of bitter peel, made in nearby Yoxford. (Breakfast for two, £25).
Farmcafé & Foodmarket - review in full >>

By Janet HarmerCaterer Eats Out
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