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

08 March 2010 by
What's on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

The Daily Telegraph, 6 March
Jasper Gerard tucks into a feast of top quality ingredients at Japanese eaterie Dinings, London W1

We start with tartar tacos, the speciality: bite-size wafers turned up like stetsons, supporting a variety of seafood. Particularly delicious is the scallop variant with avocado, cream and jalapeño chilli that delivers a wild bronco kick. We immediately lasso the Japanese waitress for more, realising that as the tiny room fills with cool young Tokyo types, the larder is starting to empty. First to go are the Cornish oysters. These are offered individually and covered in such delights as garlic, raspberry soy or caviar. The success of a Japanese restaurant hangs on the skill of the swordsman in its kitchen and the quality of the fish he slices. But as the preparation of dishes is so labour-intensive most can only serve a handful of customers, prompting top specialist suppliers to seek out bigger restaurants. For main courses we stick to the specials board favoured by Japanese regulars. Particularly delectable is the soft-shell crab spring roll. "This dish is always a good test," says my guest Joe, fresh from a Japanese cooking course. "Getting the crispiness right is really tricky. It has to be served fresh or it goes soggy in the fridge." The crab has a wonderfully soft yet crunchy texture. Also impressive is the spicy tuna wasabi rolls with wasabi leaf, a spicier alternative to the more typical wasabi powder. (Rating: 8/10. Lunch for two: £155.10.)

The Independent, 6 March
Tracey MacLeod says seafood specialist Crabshakk in Glasgow deserves its reputation as the hottest restaurant in town

You've heard of a galley kitchen? This is a galley restaurant. So much has been packed so elegantly into the cramped shopfront space, it could have been designed by a yacht builder. Or an architect. Co-owner John MacLeod (no relation) designed some of Glasgow's most stylish restaurants, before opening his own place a year ago. Crabshakk is a clever, multi-tasking hybrid of traditional and modern, its sharp chrome and glass edges softened by wood-plank wainscoting, exposed brickwork and malformed tables of reclaimed timber. "I don't think this place is going to work," joked Muriel as we shouldered our way through the mob, up the industrial steel staircase to a minuscule mezzanine area holding a handful of tables. The terse menu showcases Scottish fish and shellfish, simply prepared and unfussily presented, from whitebait, smoked mackerel and fish and chips through to whole grilled Scottish lobster at £38, and fruits de mer platter, to share, at £48. It's an all-day operation, so you could refuel on shellfish chowder or mussels and chips, or go for the full three courses, as we did. (£25 per head for three courses, before wine and service. Rating: food 3/5, ambience 4/5, service 4/5)
Crabshakk- review in full >>
The Times, 7 March
Giles Coren advises readers to steer clear of Babbo, London W1 where bad service, horrific prices and mediocre food add up to a "goddam scandal on stilts"

The menu is carpet-chompingly expensive. We went 100 per cent veggie (Boom!) and still our starters were £10 each, our mains £20. A cursory count of the wine list showed 50 reds, of which 25 cost £100 or more. I think there was one at around £26, maybe one at £30-something, and then it was straight into the forties. Sick-making. They served Esther a glass of flat prosecco and when I asked them to change it, they said, "Prosecco is not the same as champagne." Really? You don't say. And you've managed to track one down which is supposed to be flat, stale and just a teeny bit sour. Clever you. Esther had a lump of burrata on some chopped tomatoes, I had a dry melanzane parmigiana cut into a cylinder with a pastry shaper like some MasterChef horror of the Loyd Grossman era. Esther had a good risotto, I had a good pasta. I had a very good cup of coffee (so these particular Italians have mastered pasta and coffee - ring out the bells). With a bottle of £42 wine (which was probably about the fourth cheapest on the list) and the pleasure of being treated like scum, the bill came to £135. (Rating: 2.67/10)
Babbo - review in full >>

The Observer, 7 March
Jay Rayner finds the experience of eating in Glamorous, Wing Yip Business Centre, Manchester, as more weird than glamorous

I loved the seafood in a scallop and prawn dumpling, which had a pleasing bite, but the sticky rice-flour casing was far too thick and gelatinous. The same was true of a steamed dumpling of prawn and chives. This was all the odder because we had ordered it from the deep-fried list, and this had been nowhere near the bubbling oil. I pointed this out to the waiter, who was insistent that, whatever the menu said, this was what we had ordered. Weirdest of the lot was a mixed meat dumpling with soup, which I assumed from the description to be xiao long bao, those miraculous little parcels of loveliness in which the shell encases the broth so that invariably it dribbles down your chin. What arrived was a bowl of stock and, floating in it, the broken shell to a dumpling and one sad crabstick. We asked a waitress what it was. She didn't know. She asked her friend. She didn't know either. Our waiter came back, said it was for someone else, took it away and then brought it back again, telling us it was the one we had ordered. I dug around in its depths with a spoon, forcing the crabstick to roll and bob. I didn't taste it. There are limits. (Dim sum for two, £35).
Glamorous - review in full >> By Janet Harmer

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