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What's on the menu – critics line up in praise for Jason Atherton's Social Eating House

What's on the menu – critics line up in praise for Jason Atherton's Social Eating House

RESTAURANTS

The Times
Giles Coren enjoys Social Eating House in London W1, but suggests it should be renamed the "Incredibly Posh Fancy Restaurant"
To begin, naturally, was a choice of "Jars To Share" at £4.50 each, and while we tucked into one that contained "Salt cod brandade, potato chips, celery salt and vinegar, parsley oil", I thought I might just keep things simple and have the "Octopus carpaccio, orange Grenobloise, black olive oil", followed by the "Roast Cornish cod, kombu, mousserons, baby gem, cockles and cream". The simplest dish of all looked to be the "Wild mushrooms on toast, from a bag, cep purée". And it was reasonably simple, apart from the bag, which was a polythene one in which a gorgeous handful of shrooms had been cooked in a water bath from which they emerged fat and garlicky to be gobbled with a single thin slice of sourdough toast, alone in a silver toast rack, smeared with the most wonderful (and wonderfully salty) purée of ceps. The fat, fresh, hot, round little mushrooms went fantastically atop the thin salty toast. But there wasn't enough of it. Come on, this is a social eating house. You can give us two bits of toast. There was even less toast with the "CLT". None, in fact. For this was a crab, lettuce and tomato "sandwich" without the sandwich. Brilliant again, though: several types of multicoloured heritage tomato in a state of perfect ripeness with a roast tomato vinaigrette and a bit of dressed crab and lettuce. Lovely with a white burgundy suggested by our enthusiastic Russian sommelier.
Social: 6, Eating: 7, House: 8
Sustainability: 6.5
Score: 6.87
Price: with a cocktail each and one ordinary bottle, £180 for two

Time Out
Guy Dimond awards a rare five stars to Jason Atherton's latest eaterie, Social Eating House, where head chef Paul Hood is delighting diners with presentation, taste and textures

Smoked duck ‘ham', egg and chips is a dish that's typical of Pollen Street Social's playfulness. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/travel/wheretostay/article3758223.ece" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">At Social Eating House]'Ham' is cured and smoked from duck breast on the premises, served with a breadcrumbed duck egg that's molten in the middle, but with an aroma of truffle oil. Umami - savouriness, the taste that enhances other flavours - was also plentiful in a roast cod main course that uses powdered Japanese kombu seaweed in a glaze, served with a creamy sauce of roasted cockles and just-in-season St George's mushrooms. Presentation is a strong point of Hood's dishes, just as they are for his mentor Atherton. A starter of ‘CLT' - crab meat, a fan of blonde castelfranco radicchio leaf, and heritage tomatoes, which had been blanched to remove the skin, was given a further umami hit with a roast tomato vinaigrette. The desserts also showed inventiveness, imagination and attention to detail. A honey almond sponge, inspired by the version at Pollen Street Social, was nicely paired with a scoop of goat's curd ice cream.
Rating: 5/5
Price: £££ (expensive)

The Metro
[
Jason Atherton's Social Eating House menu demonstrates well-travelled playfulness and pomposity-free creativity, says Joe Warwick ](http://metro.co.uk/2013/05/09/jason-athertons-social-eating-house-is-a-welcome-antidote-to-pompous-bourgeois-eateries-3733981/)Although there are elements of his multifaceted Mayfair flagship here, it has been built specifically with its Soho location in mind. That means more accessible pricing, both in the ground-floor restaurant and in the smart first-floor bar, which has a separate entrance and where the cocktails come in at less than £9, and quality snacks such as duck fat chips, pork belly sliders and jars of macaroni and cheese topped with shaved mushrooms, are around £5 a pop. Back in the restaurant, with its mirrored ceiling, there's a well-travelled playfulness and pomposity-free creativity to the menu, which doesn't make a meal out of making a meal of British ingredients - a welcome antidote to the current fashion for reheated French bourgeois classics and po-faced ‘local' provenance. The edited highlights of three visits - two to the restaurant, one to the bar; one at lunch and two for dinner - include a faultless wild boar ravioli ‘Bolognaise' made with Berkswell cheese, peppered hearts and kidneys; a perfect piece of halibut with gremolata and roasted shellfish juices; and a fantastically fresh dessert of lemon curd pie with sour yoghurt sorbet that, with its unadvertised shards of broken meringue, comes across as a deconstructed lemon meringue pie.
Price: £100, meal for two with drinks and service
Score: 4/5

The Sunday Times
AA Gill hates the "uncomfortable and cacophonous room" room, but loves the "epicurean dinner" at The Clove Club in Shoreditch, London EC1
This is the loudest dining room I have been to for years: bare floors and walls bung the competitive hilarity of the screamingly stylish customers into a banshee wail of youthful self-love. This faux-recherché student common room ambience is getting tiresome, but probably only for me. And here I draw the line under the carping because the menu is everything the decor isn't. We started with radishes and gochujang, which, I don't need to remind you, is a Korean fermented chilli and rice condiment. Koreans ferment everything, including resentment and each other. Then buttermilk chicken on a bed of pine twigs collected by the waitress from Hampstead Heath, a pigeon sausage with ketchup — what a satisfyingly moreish way to use up all those spare pigeons. Beef tartare came with the inspiring addition of an anointing of warm beef dripping, which the Blonde found shuddery as she's squeamish about runnily cholesteric animal fat. But I love it, can't get enough of it; I'd have eaten a bovine Kardashian bum of this. Grilled squid, tarragon and green radish was tenderly insinuating. Slow-cooked loin of lamb with spinach and anchovy came with the interesting addition of dried, powdered seaweed, which made the dish very Welsh — unusually a good thing.
Price: £47 five course set menu per person
Atmosphere: 2/5
Food: 4/5

London Evening Standard
Fay Maschler reviews Kaspar's Seafood Bar & Grill, but discovers that the new Savoy venture is far from the cat's whiskers
I went twice for dinner at Kaspar's, the first time without paying. Primly, I was not going to mention dishes eaten on that occasion but then I think it is my duty to say do not bother with Kaspar's lobster club sandwich, a hefty, clumsy assembly of three layers of toasted sliced granary bread and scant lobster for £25 — go to Burger & Lobster and you get a whole bug for £20 — or sand shrimp and eel cocktail served inside the time capsule of a glass dome swirling with chemical-tasting smoke or seafood linguine swamped with over-seasoned tomatoes. And give celery and pecorino soup a swerve. Celery soup made with half celeriac, half celery stalks, not too much cream — see Simon Hopkinson's recipe — is an ambrosial classic. This is piquant dishwater. On the second visit I paid £14 for a choice of two items from Smoked and Cured Fish. Translucent slices of gravlax and chunky batons of smoked eel are fine but need something extra. Horseradish cream? It is brought. Indonesian prawn salad is spiced prawns in a jumble of dressed leaves, which is perhaps all anyone is entitled to expect. Anne orders Dover sole thinking it will be served on the bone and filleted beside the table, forgetting that while we are indeed at The Savoy it is now in its down-with-the-kids mood and mode. The fish arrives branded from the grill and as if born boneless, accompanied by a beurre noisette heavily studded with capers. At least the lemon half is swathed in muslin.
Rating: 2/5
Price: A three-course meal for two with wine, about £150 ( including 12.5 per cent service)

The Guardian
Marina O'Loughlin ventures out of London and discovers that Claire Houlihan and Hamish Stuart have found a winning recipe once again with their third site, the East Coast Dining Room in Tankerton, Kent
This new baby in Tankerton is their first actual restaurant as opposed to pub - and another shining example of how to do things right. I'm not going to pretend the East Coast Dining Room offers anything groundbreaking - you'll not find molecular pyrotechnics or much that's gaspworthy. Few are going to wax poetic about soup, but in chef Ryan Smith's hands (he's ex-the Sportsman in Seasalter, a top CV entry, and has followed Claire from the Anchor), this simple pleasure transforms into something luxurious: emerald spring peas with homemade smoky bacon and parmesan straws, maybe; or spiced butternut squash with shortcakes of roquefort. This sense of getting the most out of fine ingredients pervades the menu. Fat quails crammed into casseroles with good red wine and aromatics, then pot-roasted; salt cod whipped into fried buñuelos (they call them "balls"; no fancy-schmancy stuff here) with a fiercely garlicky aïoli. There's a sloppy-looking plate of burrata and aubergine puree, but the flavours are pure: blasts of rosemary and sweet cream. Tiny town, two restaurants worth travelling for, not a pre-portioned ham hock terrine in sight - take that, all you bastards who flog us mass-produced platefuls as if they were homemade.
Food 7/10
Atmosphere 7/10
Value for money 8/10

The Independent
[
Tracey Macleod finds lunch a "thrill-a-minute experience" at Tom Sellers' Restaurant Story in Tooley Street, London, SE1 ](http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/reviews/restaurant-story-201-tooley-street-london-se1-8607805.html)Lunch was a thrill-a-minute experience. A succession of showstopping dishes began with a couple of insanely delicious pre-starters. First a wafer of translucent cod skin, dusted with ‘gin botanicals' (powdered juniper berries) and dotted with whipped cod roe. Then a rabbit ‘sandwich', a crisp, breaded parcel containing a superb, rillette-like confit of shredded meat. Bread, a dense apple-based sourdough, came to the table in a leather pouch, possibly a repurposed book-cover. But it's what comes with the bread that's the story - an edible candle, made from beef dripping which melts into a dippable pool as it's heated by the flame. It's a dish that has got more newspaper coverage than Labour's deficit reduction plan, and it sets the tone for a meal which is designed to be talked about, as well as enjoyed. Take the fairytale-ish dessert, cutely titled ‘Three bears porridge'. A trio of distinctively flavoured oatmeals; one sweet, one salty, one ‘just right'. It sounds ludicrous, but it left us grinning like kids. Sellers, like Heston Blumenthal, loves to play around with all that childhood stuff. And though his food is tricked up in modernist trappings, under the flowers, leaves and dustings of ash or yeast, there's a real precision to his flavour combinations, with bursts of acidity and sourness punching through.
Price: Six courses £45, 12 courses £65, before wine and service
Food: 5/5
Ambience: 3/5
Service: 4/5

The Independent
The Potato Merchant in London's Exmouth Market is a "slow moving catastrophe", says Lisa Markwell

But back to the menu: there are nine spuddy side dishes (from Jersey Royals to dripping chips to dauphinoise), and plenty of tuber action on the mains. Think fish cakes, potato soup, tartiflette - plus steaks and pies. Don't think vegetables; there are hardly any - aside from the pots, just asparagus and lettuce. Mr M and I share salt cod fritters, asparagus, dauphinoise, patatas bravas, and a steak-and-kidney pie. Miss T orders a sausage roll - at 14, she's a girl of simple tastes - while I force her to add lettuce, despite it coming with salad cream (sounds distinctly unpromising). What unfolds is a slow-moving catastrophe. A pottery dish of scalding hot Spanish-y chips and a cardboard "punnet" of dauphinoise barely warm arrive together, like a terrible, terrible blind date. The flavours are OK, but dauphinoise is at its best bubbling fresh out of the oven. Like most potato dishes, it doesn't want to be sitting around. Salt-cod fritters are decent if greasy and the accompanying aioli is punchy. Everything is on the small side (fair enough, so are the prices - from £3.50 up to £10), except the asparagus, which has a large dollop of mash beneath the handful of spears. Potato Overload Klaxon!
Price: £40 for two, including soft drinks
Score: 5/10

The Telegraph
[
Ametsa at the Halkin hotel, London SW1, is technically accomplished and consistent but Zoe Williams is struck with a pressing sense of pointlessness ](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/10030302/Ametsa-London-SW1-restaurant-review.html)D had the talked-about starter - quick changing squid (£16) - and I had king prawns with sweetcorn (£16.50). Hers consisted of little parcels of ribboned butternut squash, with some kind of squid-ink jelly square on top of each; a waiter poured over a squid-ink broth, whereupon the jelly disappeared. The end result was a plate of four orange squares with a charcoal tinge, sitting in a watery black pool. The amount of effort put into making it look so unattractive was comical, impressively defiant. Taste-wise, the broth was too salty, you couldn't discern much else, and the squid in the parcels was cut up very small, which, given its toughness, reminded me of gravel. Mine was also soupy, with a great cloud of crunchy, pale-yellow noodles; it looked like one of those ‘directional' cushions Ikea always has on ‘special'. But the prawns were excellent, cooked with utter precision, fresh and delicate. And the corn soup was intense and smooth. This may have been the high point.
Price: £56 for three courses
Score: 2/5

The Telegraph
[
The Karczma is a treasure house of Polish cuisine just off the Birmingham ring road, says Matthew Norman ](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/restaurants/10032790/Restaurant-review-The-Karczma-Birmingham.html)The Karczma's unswerving commitment to originality continued with the provision of fresh cutlery, which came in an envelope with a pocket set aside for a Lilliputian paper napkin lest the more conventional napery on the table failed to suffice. The shock about the main courses was that all three were comparatively normal. One of us went for the Chef of the Recommended, a dish further described as "lamb shepherd in the cauldron under a blanket" which proved to be a prettily presented but otherwise ordinary pie. My ham hock "kashubian", with fried sauerkraut, was pleasantly flaky and savoury, and colossal in size, for the delectation of the tapeworm-toting diner. Pick of the bunch was "beef olives", in which tender meat was wrapped around a medley of "smoked backon", sausage, onion and pickles, with a mound of "mashed potatos" (and how splendid to find Dan Quayle keeping active with a sideline in menu-writing). A pair of puddings - a swirly pavlova topped with whipped cream and a slice of cheesecake - seemed to have come through a wormhole themselves, in this case one leading to a Seventies carvery. Meanwhile, our concern that The Karczma had exhausted even its stocks of the highly original were slain by news of a 50p surcharge for credit card payments.
Price: £35-£40 for three courses with wine, per person
Score: 6/10

The Observer
[
Jay Rayner finds the dishes at Red's True Barbecue, Leeds, cheap, but not in a good way ](http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/may/12/reds-true-barbecue-leeds-restaurant-review)Chicken wings arrive in sauce the colour of that make-up they used to slap on Caucasian actors to turn them into "Red Indians" in dodgy westerns. They are unjointed - would it have killed you to cut 'em up? - and require precision butchery skills at the table. It's exhausting. Cracklings are squared-off pork scratchings with too much fat and not enough skin. Battered deep-fried slices of dill pickle are proof that just because it's possible to put something in the deep-fat fryer doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. At £3 to £5 a plate, these dishes are cheap, but not in a good way. The ribs lurking in that bin really are the point of being here, especially the thick St Louis cut and the even bigger beef short ribs. They haven't been cooked to destruction but still have bite, with a good, sticky outside char. I've never much seen the point of baby backs, but at least they have spent a serious amount of time in the smoker. If I were to come back it would be for these, and these alone. Because their "21-hour smoked beef brisket" is a tragic thing: grey, dull, devoid of smoke. It is drenched in a cloying gravy and resembles school dinners.
Price: £60 for meal for two

HOTELS

The Times
[
Tom Chesshyre approves of the smart refurb of Cannizaro House in Wimbeldon, London, but could do without the bossy signs about the placeEach of the 46 rooms has a mix of antique and modern furniture. Bathrooms are slick, with sandstone-tiled walls, sumptuous bath tubs, and Duck Island toiletries. Prices are through the roof during Wimbledon, but at other times doubles are from £195 B&B (all are a decent size), while large doubles are from £280 (room 318 is particularly good). Ask for a room facing the park at the back. Of the two restaurants, the main one — known simply as the Restaurant — serves lobsters, oysters, frogs' legs, sea bass and steaks in a room with flamingo-pink wallpaper. The menu at the new Orangerie, which doesn't take reservations, is lighter. A selection of antipasti bowls (£4 each) include mozzarella with pesto and sweet peppers with feta. I can recommend the salmon with orecchiette pasta, onion, peas and lemon (£14).
Rating: 8/10.
Price: B&B doubles from £195, three courses £29.50.

The Daily Mail
Joanna Tweedy is impressed by the history and location of the Landmark London, but is disappointed by the attention to detail

Our room, an ‘executive corner' room of lavish proportions - you could swing a whole cluster of cats in here - had lots of luxurious features: comfortable king-size bed; enormous flat-screen television; large marble bathroom, coffee machine. The decor, a traditional cream, green and duck-egg blue affair, was shown off by six - count 'em - lamps located around the room and floor-to-ceiling curtains. A feeble old-style hairdryer (or is it a very small hoover, I could never tell) shows the hotel's age although to be fair, a more whizz-bang hairdryer was to be found in a drawer. So far, so five-star. Sadly, and I accept this is very much a personal preference, the smell of smoke took the sheen off our stay. For a hotel that prides itself on service, it seemed odd that it would place a family with a young toddler on ‘the smoker's floor'. The hotel certainly didn't seem stuffed to the gills. We'd assumed it was old smoke from many moons ago so didn't request a move for our one-night stay…but when I asked about it on check-out, I was cheerily told, "Yes, we put you in a smoking room."
Rating: 3/5.
Price: Stay for two or more nights from £269 per night, including breakfast, as part of a current special offer.

The Sunday Telegraph
Fiona Duncan inspects the Crown and Castle in Orford, Suffolk - owned by the former Hotel Inspector Ruth Watson - and finds that a warm and friendly welcome makes up for a few decorative oversights

The 21 bedrooms are divided between those in the house and those in a long building in the garden, with individual terraces and an annexe with two new rooms. One of these was ours, with views of the castle and a faultless grey marble bathroom. The room itself was smart, but lacked personality, with pretty headboard but insistently patterned curtain fabric, stock furniture, no desk, plain grey walls, "do not remove" stickers on the tourism books and a prominent "no smoking" notice. I've been to many hotels, and I've met many hoteliers who have poured creative energy into bedrooms that are adorable, welcoming sanctuaries full of individuality; this, at £190 a night, wasn't one of them. Compared, for example, with my gorgeous room at the Talbot in Somerset at £150, which I reviewed last week, it was ambitiously priced. But overall, the Crown and Castle - genuinely - has a warm atmosphere, good food, charming local staff and it makes a good Suffolk base.
Rating: Location 8/10, Style/character 7/10, Service 8/10, Rooms 7/10, Food and drink 8/10, Value for money 6/10, Overall 7/10.
Price: Doubles from £130, dinner, b and b only at weekends from £398 for two nights.

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