The Independent, 12 June
Tracey MacLeod struggles with a sterile atmosphere and overly-attentive service at Alexis Gauthier's Gauthier Soho, on the site of what was Richard Corrigan's Lindsay House.
My guest, the comedian and screenwriter David Baddiel, couldn't immediately get the hang of the restaurant's blend of domesticity and grandeur. "It's like a Harley Street doctor's waiting room," was his reaction to the downstairs dining room. The meal began with complimentary pre-starters. First, some dull chickpea beignets, with an acidic mustard emulsion for dipping, then, more promisingly, a tiny, confited pigeon leg with a thimbleful of sautéed broad beans. The delicacy of Gauthier's cooking asserted itself in our starters. David's seared scallops with lime, celery and a crustacean velouté were precisely cooked. Main courses were small - effectively tasting plates - and failed to excite; when you've ordered Angus beef, you expect more than two dainty bitefuls, however good they taste, served with spring vegetables and some earthy Jersey Royals. Our bill, including service and a glass of wine each, came to £40 a head, which felt like a bargain, given the ritziness of the Gauthier offer. But the chef/patron's gifts as a cook don't compensate for the awkwardness and sterility of the experience.
Gauthier Soho - full review >>
The Times, 12 June
Giles Coren tucks into an indulgent assortment of French meats at Bar Boulud and is left impressed by both the food and the price.
Charcuterie by a chap called Gilles Verot fills the front page of the menu, and we took an assortment of the lot by way of a starter. It was all exemplary stuff, daintily presented on little picnic boards: dry, sweet, luminescent wafers of ham; pâtés and terrines perfectly made; pretty pickles alongside; a blob of sweet tagine d'agneau; and, by way of a highlight, a thin sheet of "tourte de canard", sliced from a square pie layered with duck breast, foie gras and figs. Really, truly, awesome. Cervelas Lyonnais en brioche was a dense cake of sausage and black truffle; rillons croustillants were huge, hot, square, engorged lardons of surpassing denseness and high piggy thickitude, which only I at the table was man enough to enjoy. And from the sausage list a "Beaujolaise" was all barnyardy pink pork, mushroom, onion, bacon and red wine on pommes Lyonnaise, redolent to the eyeballs of Boulud's Lyons farm upbringing, and only £8.50 the plate. This was all really robust, really honest, true and spanking French meat-making - nothing poncey, nothing flash, nothing overpriced at all - quite unexpected in this funny little bunker under a hotel on a busy urban crossroads. Score: 8/10
Bar Boulud - full review >>
London Evening Standard, 10 June
Paramount at Centre Point, London, provides the setting for a memorable meal for David Sexton, as the members-only club opens the doors of its restaurant to anyone who books to eat.
The views are exhilarating. You can see the horizon, the way London lies in a bowl. You can look straight down Oxford Street, beginning to glitter and crawl with headlights, as the evening darkens. You even feel as though you're looking down on the Eye, second to none. We went for dinner and ran up a bill for £153.28 with only one of us drinking, and that not ambitiously. For the total experience, it's worth the price. For the food alone, not so much. Warm salad of quail, confit potato, green beans, walnut and pancetta (£10.50) had been turned into a tower itself, with discs of potato and the carved-up quail layered between thin and crispy rashers of pancetta. But despite being so elaborately assembled, it all tasted good. Saddle of rabbit, roast leg and confit shoulder, peas, carrots and grain mustard sauce (£22.50) worked too. So far, so good. A side order of hand-cut chips (£3.50) was no good, though, flabby, tasteless, in fact inedible, not a top achievement with a chip. (Food: 3/5 Experience: 5/5)
Paramount at Centre Point - full review >>
The Observer, 13 June
Jay Rayner may not approve of middle class Britain's guilt-ridden love of organic vegetable boxes but a visit to Devon leaves him impressed by Riverford Farm's restaurant, the Field Kitchen.
Here, the classic European model - animal protein at the centre, vegetables as side dishes - is reversed. Meat and fish are not the focus and at times become little more than add-ons. Of the antipasti, for example, it is their roasted asparagus smeared with goat's cheese that sticks in the memory, or the lightly dressed ribbons of still-crunchy cucumber with dill alongside flakes of Loch Duart salmon that they had hot-smoked themselves. The main course brought bowls of their new potatoes baked inside paper bags with wet garlic, braised carrots, turnips and kohlrabi that tasted more of themselves than could ever be decent, braised summer greens with wet and wild garlic which threw up layers of brassic and bitter and aromatic, seasoned with Parmesan, and a dark, crusted gratin of fennel and chard which had us scraping around the outside of the dish with the spoon. They finished by laying out half a dozen cakes and puddings, among them a mango pavlova, a trifle mined with their own rhubarb, a baked custard and a sticky toffee pudding, made to the great Joyce Molyneux's recipe, which was shockingly light. (Dinner for two, including wine and service, £70)
The Field Kitchen - full review >>
By Neil Gerrard
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