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

02 August 2010
What's on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

The Observer, 1 August

Jay Rayner enjoys his meal at Zucca, London SE1, which he describes as a reasonably priced Italian restaurant serving a menu worth crossing the river for

Baked hunks of beetroot, long-roasted shallots and soft goat's cheese was both pretty and rich. The most indecently indulgent of the lot, however, was a plate of the vegetable from which the restaurant takes its name - zucca is the Italian for pumpkin - soft cooked, chipped and lightly battered. For £3. Oh my. If I lived nearby I would sneak in for a plateful every day, until I was the size of an apartment block rather than a mere house. A veal chop, with crisp, caramelised fat and a heap of well-seasoned wilted spinach, was a simple dish full of simple virtues. Another of curiously meaty squid, chargrilled and curled, sprinkled with red chilli and laid on borlotti beans was equally good. The only duff notes were rather ordinary desserts. But when the bill stacks up as it does here - helped by a wine list with lots of choice in the teens - such a thing is merely a vague disappointment rather than the bloody outrage the too-standard three-figure bill engenders. (Meal for two, including wine and service, £75)

Zucca - review in full >>

Sunday Times, 1 August

AA Gill dines at Pierre Koffmann's new restaurant at the Berkeley hotel, London SW1, where he finds exemplary and solicitous service and accomplished food full of technique and precision

We started with fresh crab with celeriac and apple, and an eau de nil sauce that tasted freshly of sour apples. Tom hated the colour. "We've got to change the colour," he said. It's apple, I told him. "It's gotta go." Neither did he like the crab carapace, which came as an amusing cloche. The dish itself was wonderful. I had snails and girolles and pomme purée, which came in a dolly's Le Creuset dish. Orange Le Creuset reminds me of home-economics lessons, Aga fascism. The snails were fine, but the dish was muddy and slurred. I understand why it was made - I can see the natural affinity of the ingredients, but it was earth-bound without being earthy. The Blonde and Richard shared a chicken for two, which was pretty perfect: the flavours were fine and intense, the presentation simple and assured, though you need to know that the French black leg hen is like Edith Piaf, chewier than our own overpumped Charlotte Church. (Meal for two, without wine, £117. Rating: 4/5)

Koffmann's - review in full >>

The Sunday Telegraph, 1 August

Zoe Williams says French chef Alexis Gathier's cooking at his new restaurant Gauthier Soho, London W1, is nigh on flawless

For sheer beauty, J's sea trout was the star. It came with tiny whole braised beetroots round the edge, and when she'd finished on the taste (delicate, earthy, slightly sweet, very unusual) she started on the aesthetics (coral against deep pink - it's an enticing look). I had the saddle of Welsh lamb with an elegant caponata underneath (cut up terrifically small, not a whisper of its peasant roots) and a thyme and lamb reduction, which was subtle and looked like something one of us might make (can't decide whether this is a good or a bad thing). The lamb itself was very excellent, herby and rich with a flash of Welsh sweetness. It's such a classic, this lamb and aubergine pairing, that the only remarkable thing you can do with it is mess it up. When it's delicious, I tend to think, ‘But of course it's delicious.' This is daft. I refer you to the aphorism about the de-necessity of fixing unbroken things. (Three courses: £35 Rating: 8/10)

Gauthier Soho - review in full >>

The Independent, 31 July

John Walsh is disappointed by the Belvedere in Holland Park, London W8, which has one of the most beautiful restaurant interiors in London, but is overpriced and unfriendly

My daughter's monkfish with chorizo, cockles and samphire was fine, except there were no cockles, and the sauce was sweet. The menu called it "pimento" but it tasted to me suspiciously like hickory Bar-B-Q. Angie's lamb cutlets with Jersey Royals and young vegetables came with Paloise sauce (minted béarnaise) in a tiny jug, but a dribble of dark caramel gravy already commanded the plate. My nephew Justin's rib-eye steak was nicely charred - but was that dark, gloopy, tarragon-free jus really a béarnaise sauce? I don't think so. Only my duck confit with wilted pak choi and ratte potatoes seemed to be accompanied by what it said on the tin: plum and port jus. It was tender and tasty, but I was surprised that a duck confit didn't have a crisp skin after being cooked in oil. There's something both disappointing and disappointed about the Belvedere at present. It's one of the most beautiful restaurant interiors in London, but it doesn't feel friendly or romantic (they turn the lights right down at about 9pm). (Rating Food 2/5; Ambience 4/5; Service 2/5)

Belvedere - review in full >>

The Independent on Sunday, 1 August

Amol Rajan says Heston Blumenthal's Hind's Head in Bray, Berkshire, is a gorgeous English pub, which is much more appealing than the restaurant upstairs

The trouble is, Heston Blumenthal's enterprise, 27 metres (as I walked them) from the Fat Duck, doesn't profit from this two-tier system. Downstairs is a glorious English pub; upstairs, the restaurant feels like a reunion for the East Devon Conservative Association. It's impossible to eat here without being acutely sensitive to a kind of classist stratification; but even if you can overcome a sense of guilt at being separated from the proles down below, the stilted atmosphere up here in the restaurant will soon make you wish you were among them. Low roof beams are fine, but the floor plan is such that on a less than fully booked weekend afternoon, everyone can hear what everyone else is saying. This is Bray, I know, but the effect of such a mis-arrangement is that everyone whispers, which is worse than disconcerting. It's scary, forbidding. It feels like we're in a viper's cesspit and - worse - everyone is conspiring against us. That's what this is - a conspiracy! (Rating 6/10)

Hind's Head - review in full >>

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