John Lanchester finds that despite initial efforts to hard sell drinks, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London SW1, lives up the hype
The two-month wait plus 2.15pm table plus 15-minute extra wait plus drinks-related hard sell meant I was pretty grumpy by the time I got to the dining room. At this point, the spirit of backlash would insist that I crank up the Meldrewism and say the whole thing's an overhyped, overgussied version of luxury hotel food. But I can't say that, because Dinner is a brilliant restaurant, one that embodies Blumenthal's mixture of deep technical craft, ingenious feeling for theatre and astute sense of how to turn a meal into a story. That's the thing about Dinner. In another context, the dishes and techniques would seem more familiar. A lot of the cooking is sous-vide (ie, what used to be called boil in a bag). That's hardly a historic feature of the English kitchen, but here it and other modern techniques bring new life to old classic recipes.
Price: A la carte £170 for two; set weekday lunch £28 for three coursesDinner by Heston Blumenthal review in full >>
Jay Rayner heads to New York where he finds David Chang's latest restaurant, Má Pêche, hit and miss, especially because it has declared a pointless war on desserts
Price: Meal for two, including wine and service £140MÁ¡ PÁªche review in full >>
Giles Coren finds excellent French food at Chabrot, London SW1, a new bistro d'amis in Knightsbridge
So hats off to Chabrot. Although the colour scheme and fonts are very French, the menu is laid out like great British menus tend to be these days: small plates, cold and hot; artisanal cold cuts; six to eight mains of which no more than half are meat; and some big dishes for three to four people that require a bit of notice.
We were pushed off the foie gras terrine by the maÁ®tre d' ("Though I think it is an excellent terrine") towards a warm duck liver pÁ¢té ("More interesting for the texture") which reminded me in its coarseness of the chopped liver my mother used to make (wait, still does make), except warm, a little darker and more peppery, and served with a big fluffy gougère. Nice, modest, low-key. We got the bone marrow too: just one weeny shin bone of some infant bovine midget, split lengthwise and baked quite gently (not the very hot roasted, scorchy fatty mouth-filler you find at Britscoff champions like St John and Hawksmoor), straggled with finely sliced shallot and parsley - sweet and mild. But it was barely a starter on its own so it was lucky we had the crispy fried baby squid (chipirons) with chilli - a starter no 21st-century restaurant can open without, whatever the nationality.
Price: Easy £50 a head sans grogChabrot review in full (Available only to Times online subscribers) >>
The Sunday Times
AA Gill says Italian restaurant Five Pollen Street, London W1, is a work in progress
The menu is Italian, written in English. The Blonde and I started with scrambled egg with langoustine and black truffle, chicken broth with little ravioli, and a shared riso mantecato with red onions and burrata cheese. I didn't know what mantecato meant. The Blonde said it was risotto mounted with butter, which I suppose explains why it wasn't translated into English, because it sounds like the Maria Schneider memorial starter. But, like her, it was nicely made and better than 14 out of 20. The onions, however, were too insistent, and cloyingly sweet, and the burrata made it very dairy rich. The scrambled egg was barely set, with a generous paving of truffle and little langoustine tails. Why did the menu translate this from Italian into French, when there is an English name, Dublin Bay prawns, and the Italian one, scampi, is more familiar? The chicken soup was delicate and fine and not too much like invalid food.
Price: £65 for two plus drinksFive Pollen Street review in full (Available only to Times online subscribers) >>
The Independent on Sunday
Robert Chalmers says 60 Hope Street in Liverpool is both unique and unforgettable at the same time My starter of smoked salmon and shrimp is exactly what you expect from 60 Hope Street: fresh, unpretentious and elegantly presented. The shrimp are described as coming from Southport - a reassuringly local name that, unlike nearby Morecambe, evokes no visions of panicking, trafficked Chinamen inexorably overwhelmed by a swiftly moving tide. My companion has the scallops: the traditional plate of three, stripped of orange corals, as is usual with the smarter establishments in Britain's large cities. If there's a criticism you could make of 60 Hope Street, it's that the restaurant sends out mixed messages. The modest size of my exquisite grilled halibut is in keeping with the sparse décor which, as my companion observes, is the badge of "nouvelle cuisine - which," he explains, "is French for ‘Twix on way home'." His fish and chips, meanwhile, are substantial, no-nonsense home cooking.
Price: About £70 for two, including wine60 Hope Street review in full >>
The Sunday Telegraph
Zoe Williams says restaurants don't get any better than Sat Bains's in Nottingham, scoring it a perfect 10
The opening dish of pork belly proved that Bains is not a chef just zuzzing things up for the sake of it. This was presented as a square of perfection, probably cooked for a year at an improbable temperature, with a hat of thin, crunchy, salty crackling and a splodge of piccalilli so vividly yellow that a fashion person would call it on-trend, probably. Mackerel with beetroot and horseradish looked a bit more avant garde; the fish had been tweezed into a very uniform, unfishy rectangle, and was a brilliant white against the deep purple of the beetroot. This might have been my favourite dish; each flavour was so distinct, and yet so harmonious. Leeks with hazelnut was probably the purist's choice; there's a sweetness to each of those protagonists that takes on a new dimension in concert with the other. The textural interplay was nice, too, the slippery leeks seemingly grounded by the nuts, like guy ropes on an exuberant hot-air balloon.
Price: Seven courses £69Restaurant Sat Bains review in full >>