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

23 August 2010 by

The Guardian, 21 August

Matthew Fort finds classic French food, classically cooked full of flavour and worth every penny at Koffmann's, London SW1

Whether cooking the elaborate structures of haute cuisine, or the rougher-hewn beauties of brasserie tradition, Koffmann is a cook to his fingertips. There aren't short cuts in his kitchen. The basics are done properly, attention given to details. And the result - well, when someone asked the great chef Fernand Point what the secret to good cooking was, he replied, "Du beurre, du beurre and encore du beaurre." The secret of Koffmann's cooking is flavour, flavour and yet more flavour. Great breakers of flavour roll like thunder round your mouth. When you take on the soupe de poissons or tête de veau à la sauce ravigote, or the daube de joue de boeuf, then brace yourself for a full-frontal assault on your tastebuds. These are big dishes, big on flavour, mighty on texture, magnificent in their generosity. It is as well to pace yourself. Don't rush. Sluice a little wine between each mouthful, then turn and take another pleasure-laden step. (Rating: 8/10)

Koffmann's - review in full >>

The Sunday Telegraph, 22 August

Zoe Williams finds Roux at Parliament Square, London SW1, a bit too perfectionist and hushed for comfort

The dining-room is the colour of a Weimaraner and has a courtly feel, with very well-spaced tables populated by strangers. The timbre of chat made me think that L and I were the only two diners who had ever met, let alone were friends, though it was hard to say when you could only hear hubbub and no words (this establishment is way too classy for eavesdropping). The formality is unbreachable. I don't want to go on about the hush, since the restaurant was new(ish) and we were eating early(ish) in the week. Still, I thought the whole point of business dinners, which these must surely have been, was that they were a great knees-up away from ordinary life; this looked more like a lesson in how to eat in front of Prince Philip. I started with the foie gras with rhubarb and a pistachio crust (three courses for £55). The meat I liked; it had that signature wobble that gets people into a frenzy. A bit like Marilyn Monroe, only edible. The rhubarb was great, too, but the pistachio was dry and drying, like cement. It didn't add much, and I wondered whether it took the edge off the excellence. (Three courses: £55; Rating: 6/10)

Roux at Parliament Square - review in full >>

The Times, 21 August

Giles Coren reviews two restaurants before heading off to France for the rest of the summer: Redhook, London EC1, and Café Luc, London W1, neither of which blows him away

I've been [to Redhook] twice and both times had oysters that were not cold enough and of which one or two had been clumsily opened, and prawns that were a bit squishy. This time I had a couple of terrifying crab legs, truly a foot long each, from some beast whose total size I simply cannot imagine. The waiter said they were from Norway, lived under the ice and had tiny heads (as Scandinavians always do). Inside the giant legs was lots of white flesh, really, yards of the stuff, like eating the limb of a supermodel - which would have been wonderful if it had been done right. But it was soggy and wet, which it can't be meant to be…The service [at Café Luc] was very good, the wine list not bad (with plenty by the glass), the range of starters, salads, pastas and mains a pretty gentle canter through the post-Wolseley all-day eating standards we've come to know and, well, expect (although if I never saw another out-of-season asparagus risotto or confit of duck on a London menu I would feel no need for formal mourning). While Café Luc will never be the crown jewel in this now fantastically foodie street, it will not disgrace it either. I'll go again. If I ever get back from France. (Rating for both restaurants: 7.33)

Redhook and Café Luc - review in full >>

The Observer, 22 August

Alex Jenkins says if you're a fan of Sichuan-style "nose-to-tail" eating, Chilli Cool, London WC1, may just set your tastebuds on fire

There is a careful structure in Sichuan cooking, with cooler dishes building to warmer, meatier, spicier mains (they don't do desserts). But at Chilli Cool in London's Kings Cross there are two cafés and two kitchens next door to each other and it seems the main-course kitchen is faster (the other does hotpots and appetisers for both). So we'd started with "sliced beef Sichuan style lavishly topped". I think it was the "lavishly topped" that swung it for me. That and the fact that the Chinese group at the neighbouring table was happily tucking into theirs. If, like me, you are too easily persuaded that the Chinese restaurant with the most Chinese faces must be the best, then Chilli Cool is for you. But this is no Cantonese Chinatown crowd. This is a younger Bloomsbury clientele, largely drawn, I suspect, from the School of Oriental and African Studies not far from here, though we are still the only people speaking English. (Meal for two, including tea and service, £45)

Chilli Cool - review in full >>

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