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

11 October 2010 by

The Times, 9 October

Giles Coren enjoys the food at Street Kitchen, a mobile pop-up restaurant serving food by Jun Tanaka and Mark Jankel, which forms part of the London Restaurant Festival fortnight

So I showed up, ordered one of everything at the counter (hot smoked salmon, beetroot and horseradish, £6.50; braised beef, carrots and celeriac, £6.50; roast butternut squash and watercress salad, £5.50; cheesecake, shortbread and autumn fruit, £4.50), took it to one of the tables nearby, ate it, and seven minutes later was gone, back on the Tube by way of a couple of shoe shops: the perfect restaurant experience. No menu, no waiters, no lighting, no music, no waiting around, nothing.

The salmon dish was the best: full of flavour and served with excellent crushed potatoes with which Tanaka, as it happened, was not happy because they were too waxy, his supplier having only one kind of potato that week and it not being floury enough. The beef was feather blade of a posh animal, quite rich and stinky, which was very exciting, and I only hope that food-van passing trade will appreciate it. The celeriac was parsnip, because the farmer thought his celeriac was still too small to pull. There was also no Jerusalem artichoke soup because he wouldn't pull his ‘chokes yet either. These fussy farmers. They should have asked Wayne Rooney. He'll pull anything. (Rating 8/10)

Street Kitchen - review in full >>

The Sunday Times, 10 October

AA Gill says the House of Bruar, by Blair Atholl, Perthshire, is probably the best motorway restaurant in Britain

The restaurant is the thing. Chintzy self-service, with enough choice to be attractive, but not so much that implies microwave, boil-in-the-bag or elves. There's an impressive fish section, making up plates of salted, smoked, pickled and mayo'd things, like a Scandinavian birthday breakfast. A good-looking carvery, with piles of Yorkshire puddings and slabs of ruddy beef. A lot of salads, for the southerners. And a marvellous selection of whole cakes for cakeholes, none of them encumbered with Smarties, chopped-up Dime bars, Celebrations or sprinkles. The staff are local - traditional Highland Poles. There was a rather wonderful manager who looked like a Warsaw film star and asked every customer if they were happy, what would make them happier, and might he perhaps give it to them. I had a steak and kidney pie with plenty of kidney and that deep brown, salty, renal flavour that's almost chocolatey, with lardy pastry that was both crisp and chewy, and properly buttered cabbage, thick chips and mincing ginger beer. It was precisely what I wanted, but never suspected I would get. (Rating 3/5)

House of Bruar - review in full >>

The Independent, 9 October

Tracey Macleod finds a dream of a local restaurant in Trullo, London N1, which serves high-quality Italian food at affordable prices

The tiny Highbury Corner premises, once the home of the Gill Wing café, have apparently been given a makeunder; spartan decor - exposed ducting, industrial lights and rough-hewn shelving holding spotlit crates of produce - seems distinctly less smart than I remember. The buzz, though, is phenomenal, a happy Highbury hubbub rising, over the course of the evening, to a din. To have secured a table is clearly cause enough for jubilation. But to eat the dishes produced in Trullo's tiny kitchen is very heaven. Mussels and slices of Amalfi lemon, crisp-fried in the lightest polenta crumb; grilled quail, the meat pink and sweet under smokily charred skin, with a silky roast pepper aïoli; chilli-hot rump of lamb, grilled over charcoal and lapped by creamy, rosemary-scented white beans; a glistening, chargrilled mackerel, lightly pink at the bone, with Castelluccio lentils. We could have been eating in that perfect, elusive little Tuscan trattoria Islingtonians dream of finding on holiday, if it hadn't been for the London buses trundling past outside. (£30 per head excluding wine and service. Rating: Food 4/5; Ambience 3/5; Service 4/4)

Trullo - review in full >>

The Independent on Sunday, 10 October

Lisa Markwell says that, despite the huge meat-and-potato portions at Moran's in Sheffield and the chef's overuse of salt, she'd return thanks to the team's enthusiasm and commitment

What to say about the main courses that doesn't sound patronising? I have rarely been given such a huge amount of food, and never south of Birmingham. Is it - dare I say - a northern thing? I find heaps of mash, a lake of jus and a tranche of meat that would feed four somewhat offputting. The meat is cooked with skill, the lamb as tender and fine-flavoured as you'd expect from the Derbyshire's fields and the calves' liver that wonderful combination of mineral tang and soft earthiness. Our side orders of green beans with shallots, and carrots with pea shoots are, we realise too late, surplus to requirements, which is as well, as they have been prepared with a very heavy hand on the salt - in fact, when I consult my notes later I see I've written "Salt!" next to almost everything. It's lucky my mother taught me never to add seasoning until I've tasted my food. If I were local and not just passing through, I'd go back to Moran's with a bigger appetite and a note to chef to go easy on the salt, because I like the convivial, haven't-we-done-well atmosphere, Sarah Moran's enthusiasm and her husband's way with a roasting pan (Rating 7/10)

Moran's- review in full >>

The Guardian, 9 October

John Lanchester finds well-judged, of-the-moment cooking at a great price at the Hawke & Hunter in Edinburgh and can't understand why the place is empty

Starters were the best of the meal. I had scallops with black pudding, one of those Marmitey combinations you either love or hate - I love it, obviously, or I wouldn't have ordered it. A sauce made of Arbroath smokie is what gave this dish lift-off. A successful trio of oysters came in the form of tempura, a "Bloody Mary" oyster in a shot glass and an oyster served on the shell. After that, the trajectory was mildly downwards - not in a severe way, just not quite as good. Salmon was cooked just right, but served on a bed of crab and leek that was soothing in texture but took away flavour rather than building it; fried gnocchi were a pointless addition. Venison was perfectly cooked but came in a broth that had too little taste, and the overall effect was too bland for a meat that should be satisfyingly emphatic. Summer pudding had good ingredients, but was way too cold and was served with a fruit "leather", or chewy strip, which was one idea that needed to be taken out back and quietly drowned. Cheese was a disappointment, given how good Scottish cheese is, and it was served fridge-cold. Still, overall more than decent cooking. Fairly priced wine list. Very friendly east European service. A sure-fire winner, no? Well, no. This was the last night of the festival. Edinburgh was heaving, and by the end of the evening quite a few people in it were heaving, too. Hawke & Hunter is yards from the site of the television festival, across the street from the Playhouse and next door to the Stand comedy club. So it should have been chocker. Instead, it was deserted. (Meal for two with drinks and service, about £70.)

Hawke & Hunter- review in full >>

The Observer, 10 October

Jay Rayner says there's a beer for everyone at the third outpost of pub group the Draft House, London SE1, even one for people like him who don't like real ale

It feels like one of the microbreweries you might find across America's Pacific North-west. There are booths and banquettes upholstered in green leather, and café-style tables with chromium edges, walls full of dodgy photos of the Rat Pack and a menu which, with its steaks and burgers, bellows "diner". For the most part, the cooking is spot on. They serve mammoth portions of big-flavoured food designed to soak up the beer. Thick pieces of quality bread smeared with a big, sticky mix of ham hock and trotter burnished with sesame seeds is exactly the sort of the thing you would want to trough as you work your way down the draft list, all of which is available by the thirds of pints as well as halves. We drank something dark and smoked called Schlenkerla Rauchbier which, with the piggy toast, made the whole thing taste like a bag of Frazzles. (Meal for two, including beer and service, £65)

The Draft House - review in full >>

The Sunday Telegraph, 10 October

A challenging pig's trotter aside, Zoe Williams loves the deceptively plain cooking at Koffmann's, London SW1, which she describes as a smart French restaurant

Because C had the steak (£26), which was perfect on every level, from the sourcing to the butchering to the cooking - probably the beast's very behaviour in life had been unimpeachable - I blundered adventurously into a pig's trotter (£27). I know, I know, if you're going to embrace French cooking, you can't cherry-pick the croissants and gag at the andouillettes. However, this was one for the hardcore: the trotter lay across the plate, still quivering slightly, as if it had been interrupted and cooked in the middle of some important pig business. In the Provençal fashion it had been braised from raw; no browning had taken place (my sister and I had a French au pair when we were kids who used to cook sausages in milk, from raw, and we can both still do an impression of their eerie wobble). Inside, a wonderful stuffing of sweetbreads and morels, bound with egg, was impeccable, drawing depth of flavour from the meat but introducing both light and earthy notes. The trotter itself, though, I didn't finish. Mea culpa, with my English squeamishness. (Three courses £48. Rating: 8.5/10)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/restaurants/8037470/London-Restaurant-Review-Koffmanns.html" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">
Koffmann's - review in full >>

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