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

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

The Guardian, 28 AugustSimon Hattenstone finds a hidden gem at Aumbry in Prestwich, Greater Manchester, where Laurence Tottingham and Mary-Ellen McTague have been named up-and-coming chefs of the year by the Good Food Guide

For starters, there's a long white slug of mackerel with red rectangles of rhubarb. The sweetness of the rhubarb works brilliantly against the fishy tang. Mum's wild garlic soup is white and creamy with blobs of yellow and green - swirl it round the plate and it becomes an impressionist's dream. Despite appearances, it is light and delicate. As you might expect of chefs trained by Heston Blumenthal, they like to play with their food. Not outrageously, but enough to raise a smile. So my lamb, potatoes and salad comes with tiny pellets of fleshy tongue - the lamb slices are shaped like a tongue, the potatoes are trimmed into a flower while edible flowers sit in among the salad. Lovely. I ask for a nice red wine, and am brought a Tierra Alta Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is so rich and mellow I'm closing my eyes after the first sip - especially after the first glass. The porage (which does a cracking impression of risotto) seems to have been subtly flavoured with nutty chocolate. In fact, it's cauliflower. (Rating: 9/10)

Aumbry review in full >>

The Independent on Saturday, 28 AugustJohn Walsh finds the All Star Lanes, London WC1, a very invigorating experience despite the rather patchy food offering

The menu is an attractive throwback to a Manhattan diner in the 1960s. It has chargrills and appetisers, it calls coriander "cilantro" and chicory "endive" and throws in some home-grown dishes you've never heard of (Bacon succotash? Me neither). A quesadilla of chicken, cilantro and jalapeno was like toasted pitta bread containing a deliciously spicy salsa. "Salt and pepper popcorn squid" was battered squid with an aioli dip, a little on the soggy/greasy side. (If you're going to call it "popcorn", it should be crispy, surely?) The girls cooed over the avocado, baby gem and pecorino salad with parmesan dressing. Main courses were just as hit-and-miss. Andreas thought his Slow Cooked Boston Butt Pork with Old Style Baked Beans "a hefty butt, certainly, but it hasn't benefited from the sauce or gravy - which tastes rather Marmite-y, like barbecue sauce out of a bottle". I'm unfamiliar with Boston Butt, but it tasted a bit woolly to me. Gina's Corn Dipped Catfish Po' Boy Sandwich was not a success - a small battered fish in a toasted baguette. "It resembles a Filet-O-Fish from McDonald's," she says, "only less tasty. Perhaps catfish doesn't travel." (Food 2/5; Ambience 4/5; Service 4/5)

All Star Lanes review in full >>

The Sunday Telegraph, 29 August
Zoe Williams says the delicious food and lovely setting at the Pheasant in Keyston, Cambridgeshire, more than make up for what the service lacks

T had the cold roast pork with carrot remoulade (£8). The taste of the meat was excellent, though we agreed that it could have been more thinly sliced for a less arduous chew. The dressing was tangy and punchy, though never obscured the carrot. At this point the meal was a straight wowser. I chose ox tongue (£15.50) for my main, on an appealing warm salad of skinned broad beans and courgettes (cut into strips, and braised not charred). The meat was dressed in a very minty salsa verde. If you didn't think of how muscular it was, how incredibly tonguey, then it was great. If you did, well then it was still delicious, but a bit mid-mouth intimidating. There were Jersey Royals alongside, which were unbelievable. There was some fandango on the back of the menu about how you could tell summer had arrived because of the abundant Jerseys; normally I hate that sort of proselytising, but it was more than warranted with these wholesome, toothsome pebbles. (Three courses: £29; Rating: 8/10)

The Pheasant reviw in full >>

The Independent on Sunday, 29 August
Richard Johnson says the Ambrette's take on modern Mumbai dining is just the latest sign of life returning to Margate's seaside strip

The brochettes of lamb have been marinated in pineapple, and roasted - over charcoal. They arrive at the table, as soft as paté, on a mildly spiced bed of sweet potatoes. It's the right time for the waiter to bring my daughter's lassi to the table. With a straw - one of those with a joint towards the top. "You can drink round corners," he says. "Cool," she says. And promptly forgets all about the mildly spiced bed of sweet potatoes. I've always wanted to rid the world of reheated bread rolls, pre-grated Parmesan, and overfilled wine glasses. The list used to include inter-course sorbets, but when my daughter and I taste the Ambrette's granita with space dust, well, I change my mind. As the waiter arrives with tiny tasters of mushroom soup (with a dab of ginger) and vegetable spring rolls with a smear of chutney, we're having a ball. The sea-bream kedgeree is the best dish of the day. It is creamy, like a good risotto, and sweet with coconut. My daughter has discovered that her naan bread, still shiny with ghee, is big enough for her hand, and she turns it into a glove puppet while we wait for a dense, wet carrot cake - sweet with condensed milk. It is enough to make my daughter put down her naan bread. (Rating 7/10)

The Ambrette review in full >>

The Observer, 29 August
Allan Jenkins has a meal to remember at Koffmann's, London SW1, where the former La Tante Claire chef-patron has made his comeback to the London dining scene

My coquilles St Jacques à l'encre has been on La Tante Claire menus since the early days and it's immediately easy to see why. Three slices of just-so scallop sit on a raven-wing sea of squid ink. A scant orange slick of coral heightens its beauty. My only problem is how to get all the intense sticky sauce into my mouth without licking the plate. Hoppy is happy with his mackerel. The fish marinated not cooked, in a delicate jelly studded with sultanas; the potato salad the right side of soft. We ask the waiter to slow our meal for a few minutes to give us more time to savour our coming main courses and to soak up our surroundings. The room is fine, not great. Across from us sits a large table of chefs who look more like they're planning a bank heist than making a pilgrimage to this Knightsbridge shrine to peasant cooking. Rowley Leigh has brought his "boys" in, too. Our flannel-suited, club-tied neighbour has meanwhile made a move on one of the sisters. He slithers into her banquette, leans in, holds her hand and tells her she has beautiful legs. She looks a little shocked, disbelieving but pleased. (Three-course lunch £22.50; à la carte for two with good-value wine £150)

Koffmann's review in full >>

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