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

06 April 2010 by

The Observer, 4 April
Jay Rayner finds excellent Hunanese cooking at Golden Day, London W1, which puts heat in his belly and sweat on his brow.

We began with a salad of finely sliced crunchy kelp, the colour of a winter sea, dressed with garlic and chilli, plus a bowl of softened peanuts with celery and carrot, both of which would serve to cool our mouths as the meal progressed. First up, on its own dainty burner, a small wok-style bowl of "dry pot" chicken, the on-bone pieces pressed in against whole garlic cloves and hunks of fresh ginger. It turned out not to be particularly dry at all, on account of the savoury broth at the bottom, with a depth of flavour you could swim in. Soon, though, as the flame went to work, the sauce was reducing, only increasing the intensity as we ate, until at last all the liquor had gone and the ingredients were crusting beautifully to the metalwork. Slices of smoked belly pork, the translucent fat melting on the tongue, came with heaps of pickled soya beans and looked curiously like a Chinese cassoulet. It tasted absolutely nothing like one. (Meal for two, including drinks and service, £80)

The Independent on Sunday, 4 April
Lisa Markwell says Fortnum & Mason in London W1 sells fare fit for a Queen. But there can be no such gushing praise for its Fountain restaurant.

We start with two classics from a menu that has little other than classics - and there's nothing wrong with that, provided that they're done well. The problem is, they aren't. Deborah's twice-baked goat's cheese soufflé is on the meagre side, and bland. My smoked salmon, by contrast, is offputtingly enormous - the pile of fish served with a not-juicy-enough lemon half and some stale bread. The bread counter is less than two minutes' walk, for goodness sake. Main courses aren't any better. Grilled pollack with cauliflower purée, savoy cabbage and bacon (£13) is at once too salty, too limp and resembles the kind of dish that fails to get a contestant through to the quarter finals of "The BBC MasterChef website"" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Masterchef. But it's Deborah's 28-day aged rib eye steak with béarnaise sauce and hand-cut chips that's the real howler. At £24.50, we expect a plump, soft and flavoursome tranche of beef. This is greyish, tough and with an inexcusable lump of fat in its centre. (Rating 11/20)
Fortnum & Mason - review in full >>
The Sunday Times, 4 April
AA Gill is thoroughly disappointed with both the food and atmosphere at the Crab at Chieveley in Berkshire and finds a room filled with an air of complaints

The menu here is expensive and chichi. Scallops with white chocolate was much better than it sounds. The problem with white chocolate is that it isn't really chocolate, and it can get very slimy when melted. I had a halibut, or a bit of a halibut, or a bit of something that had once been a halibut, or knew someone who had been a halibut. It was overcooked to the point of reverting to plankton, and came with lentils that were like something that had passed through a small rodent, and slivers of parma ham that made you think a leper had been shaken over the plate. It wasn't well made, and it wasn't nice, and it did take an absolute age to arrive. The children had fish and chips, served on plates that were branding-hot. They could have given themselves seriously painful burns, and that, right there, is enough to earn you nul points in a review. It's the sort of thoughtlessness that turns customers off for generations and you into a place where hospitality and hostility are synonyms. (Rating: food 1/5; atmosphere 1/5)
The Crab at Chieveley - review in full >>
The Times, 3 April
Giles Coren finds brilliant food at the Harwood Arms, London SW6, the capital's first Michelin-starred gastropub

The starters were served on very small wooden pallets (to call them "chopping boards" would be misleadingly hearty) and contained brilliant food. The pale, tender veal was schnitzelled then sliced, like Japanese tonkatsu, the egg was a lukewarm mini-scramble in a butter pot, the salad was perfect cross sections of raw cauliflower, leaves, capers and a couple of perfect, just-out-of-the-ground-tasting radishes from I don't know where at this time of year. And Esther's hock was spread on fingers of beautifully seasoned toasted bread with fantastic rocket and piccalilli. Looking at these two dishes, the definition of "Michelin" that seemed to be offering itself up had to do with the unlikeliness of serving such a thing at home. In general, gastropub food looks like what you get at my kitchen table. These artfully (if artfully-artlessly) arranged mini-boards would be too poncey for me to put down in front of friends at home. People would laugh. Delicious, but work-intensive. So, bing! Michelin star.
(£53.72 for two excluding wine. Rating: cooking 6, crockery 10, boom! 3, score 6.33)
Harwood Arms- review in full >>
The Independent, 3 April
Tracey Macleod is disappointed by Michelin-starred Indian chef Atul Kochhar's latest restaurant Colony, London W1, which doesn't deliver what it promises

Colony, in slightly less leafy Marylebone, calls itself a bar and grill, but the menu is far less casual than this implies. Rather than serving a selection of patties, puris and grilled meats, or going down the Anglo-Indian route pioneered by Chutney Mary, the restaurant offers complex, recondite dishes which would have the memsahibs calling for the smelling salts. Roasted mallard marinated in lindi peppers and stone moss? Lamb meat loaf infused with rose petals? Veal vindaloo with coriander chips? Whatever this is, it certainly isn't street food. The restaurant, too, doesn't conform to expectations. Nothing about this converted All Bar One just off Marylebone High Street signals Indian restaurant. The name evokes the vanished glamour of Raffles hotel and the woosh of the punkawallah's fan. We find ourselves sitting in a beige, windowless cube which feels like the panic room they'd herd hotel guests into should the natives start revolting. (£50 per head excluding service. Rating: food 3/5, ambience 2/5, service 3/5)
Colony - review in full >>
By Kerstin KÁ¼hn

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