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

05 October 2010 by
What's on the Menu? – A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

The Independent, 2 October

John Walsh says the Fifth Floor at Harvey Nichols, London SW1, may be sophisticated, but the decor and food are rather bland

How does one describe the food at Harvey Nicks? Very pretty, very svelte and very anxious not to appal or upset gentle palates with rough textures or butch flavours. An amuse-bouche of chickpea soup with golden raisins and olive oil was horribly misconceived. ("It's too sweet for soup," said Max, "and too creamy. Like Ambrosia Creamed Rice." I completely agreed.) My smoked-salmon starter was marinated in elderflower and served with fennel and apple crème fraîche, plus three tiny sections of orange. A beautiful sight, and the fennel-apple combo complemented the salmon just fine - but I longed for a wedge of lemon to bring some excitement into its life. Max's roast scallops with braised chicken wings promised a hearty wallop of flavour; the tiny pieces of boneless chicken were delicious, and the scallops, barely touched by an oven, were given a tiny crunch - the politest possible crunch - by the molecules of hazelnut in the jus. It was all perfectly agreeable. My roast saltmarsh lamb rump, five pink roundels of meat so pretty you could give them to your sister as earrings, sat on a hill of lightly spiced chickpeas flecked with red and green traces of spinach and pepper. It was a plate of costume jewellery, perfectly served, unearthly on the tongue and wholly forgettable. (About £120 for food, with wine. Rating: food 3/5, ambience 2/5, service 3/5)

Fifth Floor - review in full >>

The Sunday Telegraph, 3 October

Susy Atkins is wowed by the ultra-fresh vegetables at the Riverfield Field Kitchen, Buckfastleigh, Devon

There is no menu; the day's dishes, heavily dictated by that morning's harvest, are chalked up on a blackboard, and each table gets all six or seven on generous platters to share round (it costs £17.50 at lunchtime, £22.50 in the evenings; children eat for half price). Typically the dishes are all vegetarian, save one fish or meat plate. It was grilled chicken on our visit - good news for A&W, even though the chicken was delivered on an unfamiliar bed of lentils, with green beans and salsa verde on top. And blow me down, they loved it, and so did I. Chunks of roasted carrots and beetroot looked beautiful, of course, and tasted sweet, melting, autumnal. Braised sweetcorn kernels, chard and roast red peppers tumbled together, creating another bright dish, so intensely flavoured it made me feel sorry for the so-called "healthy" salads served up anywhere else. Actually, how can anywhere else remotely compete on veg, I wondered, when every one of these organic ingredients has been plucked from the earth less than 50 yards away, little more than half an hour ago? A salad of squash, smoked ricotta and pumpkin-seed dressing didn't quite make the grade, seeming a little bland by contrast, but a gratin of fennel and leek was wonderfully soft, rich and earthy - easily the best dish of the lunch, in my view. (Three courses: £17.50. Rating: 8.5/10)

Riverfield Field Kitchen - review in full >>

The Observer, 3 October

Jay Rayner's initial poor impressions of Platform in London SE1 are reversed once he is served an impressive selection of meats

So there are ham hock terrines and rillettes of Gloucester Old Spot. Best of all were warm slices of confited beef, with the sort of tumescent, just-crisp amber fat to make a cardiologist wince, and sweet dark fibrous meat, served with wild mushrooms and the bitter crunch of watercress. Not far behind was devilled chicken livers, in a dark puddle of powerful cayenne-boosted sauce. It soaked into the thick-crusted bread beautifully. The grouse - the season has only a little way to go now - was not the best you could get in London. It was a little well-mannered, the gamey flavour a touch understated, but it was not a waste of a great game bird. Punchy gravy, proper game chips, braised cabbage. The only thing missing was the bread sauce. A good one gives a plateful of grouse a bit of bottom. No matter. At £24 a pop it was keenly priced for this season. A tenner cheaper was my braised lamb belly, the meat cooked until it fell apart on the fork, the skin just starting to crisp up. Mine came with a stew of lentils and mint and, on the side, a salad of tomatoes and shallots, just the thing to cut through the orgy of animal fat. (Meal for two, including wine and service, £110)

Platform - review in full >>

The Sunday Times, 3 October

AA Gill is pleasantly surprised by the cheese-inspired menu at L'Art du Fromage in London SW10

I began with a brown onion soup with croutons, a Proustian dish: as a student I'd take the night train to Paris and eat this in the market at Les Halles with a shot of cognac for breakfast. This one was correctly made, if slightly underpowered. But that might be my fading palate, and the intense savour of nostalgia. The honourable member had a tian of crab that was dainty and light, a coalition of crabbiness and avocados, and then a stuffed guinea fowl, with a wodge of layered potato, onion, cream and Beaufort cheese. That was excellent; but the best of all was my thin Strasbourg tart. This is an old-fashioned, Franco-German pizza, an elegant, crisp crust dressed with a negligee of sauerkraut, poitrine and Strasbourg sausage. Sensationnel. Ausgezeichnet. A wonderful regional dish that I can't think you'll find anywhere else in London. Perfect for lunch. There was too much for me to finish, and it was £10.80. (Three course lunch for two, with two bottles of water, £68. Rating: food 4/5, atmosphere 3/5)

L'Art du Fromage - review in full >>

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