What's on the menu – a round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

13 February 2012
What's on the menu – a round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

The Observer
12 February
Jay Rayner says food van Pitt Cue's now permanent home in Soho, London W1, offers delicious meat dishes that are executed with commitment, wit and serious attention to detail
Both the sticky pork St Louis ribs and the dark-crusted beef ribs were, like me, thick and meaty; unlike me they had a serious blush of pink all the way to the bone, a sign of just how long they had been in the smoker. There's well-sauced pulled pork or beef brisket, all served with crunchy house pickles and one side, which includes braised sprout tops, mash flavoured with burnt ends and various hearty salads. Of the sides we tried, only the baked beans, with their claggy, refried texture, failed to please. Mains are around £9, though you can add a half-serving of a second meat for £5. There's also a generous pot of smoked hot wings with pickled celery for £4. The team from Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street Kitchen, where they charge twice the price for so very much less, might like to come and take lessons. And that's about it, apart from dessert, which they change most days. When we were there it was a rhubarb Eton mess with peanut butter meringues, and a light sticky toffee pudding with a salted caramel bourbon sauce. Which of those last four words could you not love?
Price: Meal for two, including wine and service, £30-50Pitt Cue review in full >>

The Independent on Sunday
12 February
Amol Rajan says the name aside, few country inns live up to the delight of the Nobody Inn in Doddiscombsleigh, Exeter, Devon
Most pub staples, from fish and chips to home-made (lamb) burger, sirloin steak, lamb shank, and beef-and-ale pie are on offer. There's also fish pie, beef or vegetable lasagne, ham and chips, roasted plaice or sea bream, a platter of beef, and a Ploughman's lunch. Of those we plump for, the lamb shank (£15.95) is least worth the asking price. It is more tough than tender, and the roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables are bland. Unfortunately the latter accompany several other courses, too - but those, in contrast, have star performers on the plate. My girlfriend's cold-beef platter (£7.95) contains some exquisitely moist offerings, and comes with a sour pickle that gets the best out of them. There's not a lot wrong with the Dartmoor-sourced sirloin steak (£18.95), and plenty right with the aromatic peppercorn sauce it comes with. The fish pie (£10.50) has all manner of delights swimming within it, from haddock and salmon to succulent king prawns. It's also cooked to the point where the wispy peaks of mashed potato on top have passed golden brown, making a crunchy foil to the sea of sauce below. In short, perfectly done.
Rating: 7/10Nobody Inn review in full >>

The Sunday Times
12 February
AA Gill says the Riding House Café, London W1, is not bad but it's not good; it's boring and whatever
We started with some fingery things, and discovered that the table was way too small, but then so are most of the dishes. If you're offering rabbit and polenta for £5, then there's not going to be much of it on the plate; £3 worth of pâté is like what they give away in supermarkets. I'm all for cheap dishes, but they're best if they're made with cheap ingredients, so that there's more than a parsimonious lick. I had the speciality burger, which comes with foie gras. ­Actually, it came with a biopsy of a liver, a ­little shivering gobbet on top of the slimy midden of stewed onion. The big, beefy burger was a bolus of tepid meat on a sawdust bun. Two mouthfuls were enough. The chips were partially peeled, but overcooked. Bella had the pollock, which she said was nice, in a bland and tasteless way. James had a dish of ­kedgeree. Kedgeree is the ­definition of beige, a dish you eat only when you can't make up your mind what to have. Puddings were gooey and sweet, and had enough chocolate. ­Prices are reasonable. I expect this place makes most of its money from the bar. The food seemed like an aid to drinking.
Rating: 3/5Riding House Cafe review in full, available only to Times Online subscribers >>

The Sunday Telegraph
12 February
The hot and spicy burgers at Meat Liquor, London W1, are brilliant; but its 90-minute, freezing-cold queue is not, says Zoe Williams
The waitress thumped three jam jars down on the table. ‘Are they for the water?' M said, polite, sceptical. ‘They're your wine glasses. You haven't ordered water,' she shot back. Again, if I can be middle-aged and spoilt for a second: the expense it takes to source 500 jam jars of the same shape for the purpose of drinking out of exceeds by far what it would take to go to Ikea and buy some bloody wine glasses. So, again, this is to make a point, or maybe two points: first, we won't be bound by conformity; second, you can take what you're given and like it. And then the burgers arrived. M and I had chilli cheese (£7). C had a plain cheeseburger (£6.50). They were monumentally succulent, the chilli actually worked in this context, the cheese was mild but not characterless, the bun was, well, perfectly bunnish. There probably isn't a better burger to be had in London for £6.50. However - and this is a huge however - there are burgers just as good to be had for a couple of quid more (I like the Spuntino sliders, the Opera Tavern burgers, Joe Allen's). So you've got to factor in how much you value your time.
Rating: 2/5
Price: Three courses, £15.15
Meat Liquor review in full >>

8 February
New tapas joint Copita, London W1, the second restaurant from the owner of nearby Barrica, offers all the thrills and sophistication of San Sebastian, says Marina O'Loughlin
On repeat visits, I wise up, ordering the likes of "mussels and chips": fat shellfish in a garlicky broth, with an earthenware dish "hat" of fried potatoes. Or boquerones, fat, meaty sardines rather than anchovies, slicked with the clean flavours of good oil and fresh lemon. But this is the straightforward stuff. More impressive is ajo blanco; wonderfully complex white gazpacho made with garlic and almonds with tiny cubes of almost candied beetroot and cool slivers of grape. It's summer in a dish, despite grey London skies. Or veal cheek, so meltingly tender we eat it with spoons, in a sticky pool of its own juices boosted by the raisiny, honeyed sweetness of Pedro Ximénez sherry. Plancha-ed meat - Ibérico pork pluma served fashionably rare, maybe; or rosy petals of properly hung venison with Jerusalem artichoke purée - is a real strength. A dish that could encapsulate the whole ethos is this one: tiny rounds of rabbit with a topping of buttery hollandaise. There are little chunks of fresh, sweet scallop here and there, plus crisp, frazzled pancetta. It's sophisticated, creative, not hidebound by any notions of authenticity - and totally works.
Rating: 4/5
Price: A meal for two with wine, water and service costs from about £50
Copita review in full >>

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