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

08 November 2010 by

The Times, 6 November
Giles Coren is impressed by the modern menu at the Curlew, Bodiam, where he has the best meal in Sussex in a long time

The Curlew occupies a pretty white wooden building at a crossroads in the middle of I won't say "nowhere", because by comparison with 18th-century Idzikowice, I dare say this place is positively jumping, so let us simply say the middle of some lovely, quiet countryside. It looks to have once been a pub but is now very much a restaurant (no bar, no pints of beer, cosy but not twee, in synch with its location and not egregiously Londonised) and a very good one at that. The menu offers five choices at each course, which is quite the perfect ratio, and the headings suggest old-school simplicity - "Smoked haddock", "Piece of cake", "Beef for two" - but the headings lie. My smoked haddock and "slow-cooked duck egg" were slow-cooked in the modern, sous-vide sense, so that the white and yolk were both brought to the consistency of a gel; the "piece of cake" was a ham hock terrine topped with foie gras that was served in the shape of a slice of cake with pickled red cabbage on a slate. The sirloin of Sussex beef had also been done in the sous-vide, so that it was even and pink throughout, with the edges just a little charred afterwards by searing heat, with blobs of smoked marrow and a rosehip ketchup. £45 per head with drinks; Rating 8/10
The Curlew review in full >>

The Sunday Times, 7 November
AA Gill raves about the international cuisine served at the Dock Kitchen, London W10, which he gives five out five stars
We all had the fennel and Parmesan salad, and excellent Parmesan palourde-clam soup with sherry. For the taxonomical pedant, this is a tautology. Palourde is French for clam and they didn't seem to be a particularly different clam. But then clams are like stand-up comedians - who can tell them apart? It was salty and intense, like Venus's bath water. And then we had a choice of Aberdeen angus beef sirloin with purple sprouting broccoli and anchovy, or a red mullet from Dorset and a gurnard that appeared to be homeless, made into a bourride with rouille and potatoes. Those dishes were faultless. The meat was particularly good, but it's interesting that for a steak to be called Aberdeen angus, only one of its parents needs to have been black. Pudding was chestnut and sherry ice-cream. I don't do sherry, so they brought pistachio. The service was charming and easy and efficient, and also knowledgeable. The atmosphere provoked by wonderful cooking was light and comfortable and we left in a Pickwickian mood, replete and garrulous, at one with a happy world. Only a really good dinner can do that for you. From £70 without wine; Rating 5/5
Dock Kitchen review in full >>

The Independent on Sunday, 7 November
Katy Guest enjoys the posh fish and chips at Mark Fuller and Andy Taylor's second outpost of Geales in Chelsea, London SW3
Emboldened by a swift half of Picpoul, I opt for the fish soup, £8 (the menu bucks the current "hand-sourced" trend by being not very big on description), and my lunch date, having torn his hand on a rogue nail in his chair leg, asks for the dressed crab (£11) to cheer him up. Only then does the waiter remember that it's run out (curse those screeching darlings). Fortunately, a hot smoked-salmon salad with pear and walnuts (£8.75) dries the tears, and the rich, tomatoey fish soup is fantastic, not too fishy, and huge. There's not enough cheese in the cute little Gruyère/croutons/rouille combo that accompanies it, but when is there ever enough cheese? And, I don't know how the Chelsea set would put this, but… well, I'm still burping fish. But it's worth it. For non-fish eaters, the menu offers three types of steak, and macaroni cheese. But it would be wrong not to try Chelsea's best attempt at sustainable (Cornish) cod and chips (£11.75). The house salad with avocado and cherry tomatoes (£6) is apparently too big for a side dish, so we order spinach and some perfect fresh-pea-tasting mushy peas (£2.95 each). They're so exciting that my lunch date forgets that his scampi (£9.75) doesn't come with chips, and has to eat mine. The bugger. £95 for lunch for two, including wine and service; Rating 7/10
Geales review in full >>

The Independent, 6 November
John Walsh finds a lovely hybrid of Umbria and Chelsea at Italian neighbourhood restaurant Tinello in London SW3
Angie's roast fillet of cod with celeriac and anchovy sauce drew cries of rapture. "It's rare to find a piece of cod so fresh and delicious you could eat it by itself," she said, "but the celeriac goes with it so beautifully, it's overwhelming." I happily joined in the chorus of praise.My veal chop, slow-roasted for ages with bay leaves and juniper berries, was wondrous, a big butch steak on a bone the size of a handlebar. But the highlight of my dish was the fennel - a giant lump, sliced in half and slow-braised with the veal until it was sweet and melting. I thought I knew everything you could do with fennel. And I never thought slow-cooking huge chunks of it would pay off. But that's why you look to chefs like Federico Sali to enlighten you. A classic tiramisu - moist, then creamy, then almondy and alcoholic - nearly finished us off; then a slice of almond tart, slightly dry but enlivened by lemon-yoghurt ice-cream, delivered the coup de grâce. About £80 for two, including wine; Rating: Food 4/5; Ambience 3/5; Service 4/5
Tinello review in full >>

Sunday Telegraph, 7 November
Zoe Williams says Etta's seafood restaurant in Brixton, London SW9, shows just how hugely the area has come on

In perfect equipoise between authentic and chic stood this seafood café: nothing on the menu that would frighten the horses, but nothing fussy or prissy or matching, either. Unless you count the sorrel and ginger virgin cocktail that we both had to start with (£2.50). It was the kind of thing that you could only imagine being conceived in San Francisco, by vegans. Unbelievably tasty, though - rooty, zesty, sherbety with a ginger tang. All that, and an unexpected regal colour. I carried on with the crab fritters (£4.50), served on a bed of sundry leaves, some of them cabbage, with the obligatory and pleasing sweet-chilli dipping sauce. The fritters themselves were amusing, since I cannot envisage a lower ratio of crab meat to batter, but only the most uptight, looking-for-insult diner would ever mind, since the batter was nicer than almost anything you could ever taste. It was chivey with the faintest tang of cayenne, a beautiful deep golden colour, and a great texture - squidgy but light. Three courses £15.45; Rating 7.5/10
Etta's review in full >>

The Guardian, 6 November
John Lanchester likes Welsh chef Bryn Williams' cooking at Primrose Hill neighbourhood fixture Odette's, London NW1

Set lunch £16 for two courses, £20 for three; Á la carte around £45 a head
Odette's review in full >>

The Observer, 7 November
Jay Rayner thinks the Hunanese food at Bashan, London W1, is great, and will take on anyone who says otherwise
Bashan, in Soho, is owned by the people who run the upmarket Szechuan restaurant, Barshu, just across the road. It has recently introduced an all Hunanese menu, developed with the Chinese food expert Fuchsia Dunlop, and for those who like dishes that make their scalp sweat, it's a joy. The restaurant is a tight snug of wood-lined rooms and feels like a village inn. Service, sadly, is in keeping with that at too many Chinese joints: the best you can hope for is efficiency; mostly it's a masterclass in brusque. Still, if you're looking for a hug, there are many niche websites for that; what matters here is the food, which is big and bold and defiantly antisocial. It's cooking to eat with a close friend. Try a cold starter of crunchy, sliced white onion, with cocktail stick-thin shards of crisp beef, the whole dressed with chilli and garlic and the occasional smack of anise. Or another of slippery wood ear fungus, which lulls you with its cool crunch and then smacks you round the chops with heat. The menu includes Chairman Mao's red-braised pork - Mao was born in Hunan - the recipe for which is in Dunlop's Szechuan book. I have read it many times, but never quite summoned the will to make it. Now I don't have to. Deep red cubes of dense meat fell apart in the mouth. The fat had been braised into jelly and it came with a sauce which, if I eat enough of it, will be literally to die for. Meal for two, including wine and service, £60
Bashan review in full >>

By Kerstin KÁ¼hn

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