Metro, 2 December
Marina O'Loughlin finds Proud Cabaret in Mark Lane, London EC3, to be strong on gimmicks, but light on substance
Time Out, 3 December
Guy Dimond enjoys a refined version of Sicilian home cooking at Mennula, Charlotte Street, London W1
The menu's clearly laid out and reassuringly brief; fancy plates pretty-up the more rustic dishes, such as a glass bowl of scored then grilled squid served in a soup-like sauce of leek, potato and olive oil with a little thyme, given distinctively Italian notes by a scoop of black olive paste and capers. Some dishes are more Brit-Italian in style, such as a perfectly cooked round of pork belly, seasoned with fennel seeds and cracked pepper, served with a firm apple sauce and a dollop of white polenta. At first glance it resembles a Sunday roast, but the gravy is a translucent jus of chicken bones, and the firm savoy cabbage under the meat is a big improvement on the soggy British norm. In Sicily, cannoli are cigar-sized tubes of fried pastry filled with flavoured ricotta cheese. In the US, they have become overblown, overly-sweet confections, but Mennula's are closer to the real thing, with crisp, dark pastry flavoured with coffee, cocoa and marsala wine, and a plain filling of ewe's milk ricotta, sprinkled with grated chocolate. (Rating: 4/5).
Mennula - review in full >>
Evening Standard, 3 December
Fay Maschler is disappointed at the lacklustre food offering at the newly launched Chinese Cricket Club, Crowne Plaza Hotel, London EC4
It is said about over-salted food in a restaurant that smoking may have blunted the chef's palate. Based on jumbo prawns with ginger, Hunan lamb, potatoes with Sichuan chilli - an interesting treatment of the tubers, cooked, but only just, from grated raw - and dry sautéed green beans the chef must have a 60-a-day habit. In Sichuan cooking salt is traditionally used to offset chilli but here salt was offsetting salt. Soft-shell crab with mayonnaise dressing was conversely disconcertingly sweet. Gai lan (Chinese broccoli) with garlic butter, our nod to greens, was overcooked and the branches laid out side by side by side as if some rare speciality rather than a bundle of veg. We made a second visit lured by the dim sum selection (served all day) and some other dishes beguilingly described. The expensive cost of each dumpling - relative to Chinatown anyway - between £5 and £9.40 made Chef Wu's dim sum section at £11.50 per person sound like a sensible choice and one that took the dither out of dithering. We chose to interpret the rather clumsy appearance of the various parcels as evidence of homemade. (A meal for two, with wine and 12.5% service, about £84. Rating: 1/5).
Chinese Cricket Club - review in full >>
By Janet Harmer