Marina O'Loughlin has a memorable meal at the Kitchen Table, London W1, but feels sorry for chef James Knappett for having to perform in front of such a self-obsessed, show-off audience
Score: Food 9/10; Atmosphere 5/10; Value for money 7/10
Price: Set meal £68, plus drinks and service.
11 NovemberThe Green Man and French Horn, London WC2, continues the brilliance of the team behind sister ventures Terroirs, Brawn and Soif
From elsewhere on the menu a thick sweetcorn soup with crunchy bits of bacon and chopped spring onions was exactly the sort of thing you need when autumn has suddenly moved on to nodding terms with winter. A plate of fried eggs, squelchy sautéed chicken livers and artichokes is a fry-up for people who like their fat and protein with a big Gallic shrug. Best of all: glorious cèpes en persillade. According to the song the best things in life are free. This is not true. The best things in life cost £12 for a plate of caramelised, meaty wild mushrooms, under a stinky pile of butter-fried garlic and parsley. Eat them with a close friend. We finished with a crisp-based tarte vigneron, the thin slices of apple first braised in red wine, and a soft poached pear filled with a little cream, on a salted butter caramel sauce with a crisp sable biscuit. The brilliance here is the ability to expand the Terroirs idea - small and big plates of rich gutsy food matched to interesting wines at a fair price - in different locations, without losing a sense of individual identity. It works and it keeps working. They are welcome to open as many of these as they like.
Price: Meal for two, including wine and service, £90
10 NovemberGiles Coren has a great meal at Chinese restaurant Yipin China, London N1, where he finds a macho menu and incredibly helpful and friendly staff
Cold dishes are a wonder for spice, allowing you to appreciate the chilli heat away from the complications of Celsius. But then "Boiled beef slices in an extremely spicy sauce" sent the trip to another plane. There was a terrific heft and gaminess to the meat, and the pure chilli fire was joyfully dementing. I glugged bottle after bottle of water as if it were water, which it was. And drank a lot of jasmine tea. I felt as fighty and up for fun as I have felt since dropping the grog. Then also umami-laden "Fish-fragrant pork slivers" (which was a boast not an apology) and some wonderful choi sum with bean curd sauce from an extensive selection of Chinese greens which were all listed and photographed in the menu. This will be revelatory if, having never seen any two of them in the same room - choi sum and bok choi, for example, or Chinese broccoli and gai lan - you have long suspected they were all the same thing. I'm going back today for the dry-wok pig's intestines and sea bass with chopped salted fresh chillies, because when you no longer take your booze like a man, Yipin is a great place for the macho competitor to show he can at least still take his food like one.
Price: I spent £25 on food and, er, nothing on booze.
8 NovemberJoe Warwick says Tim Allen's cooking at Launceston Place, London W8, deserves all the attention and recognition it can get
We ordered from the set lunch menu, a bargain at £23 for three courses, and the market menu, where you get twice the choice and plusher ingredients for double the price.A generous slab of chicken, foie gras and ham hock terrine from the former is under-seasoned and a little dry; from the latter, a slow-cooked duck egg with white bean purée, cèpes, duck confit and cured foie gras gains a welcome heady sweetness from a sherry vinegar caramel. From the set lunch, roasted hake with salt cod bon bon, caper and brown butter chicken jus appears perfectly cooked but, this time, a tad over-seasoned. No such fault with a generous helping of moist, pink Iberico pork tenderloin with chargrilled baby leeks and baked black figs. For dessert, we effectively have two versions of the same dish: English custard tart or baked English custard, depending on which menu you ordered from. In each case, the main event was a similarly sized portion of vanilla-heavy set custard with a fine crisp pastry base, the posher version appearing with pineapple roasted in rich Pedro Ximénez sherry, as opposed to caramelised apples and fig purée.
Price: A meal for two with drinks and service costs about £140
The London Evening Standard
8 NovemberThe Green Man and French Horn, London WC2, is an old boozer reborn as a brilliant bistro, says Andrew Neather
Like the others, the Green Man is comfortable and a bit funky (leather banquettes, stools by a retro bar, stripped brick) without being clichéd - a far cry from the boozer it used to be. Service is informal and very Gallic - might some of the staff be exaggerating their accents? - without being sluggish. The simplicity and quality are clearest in the food. A starter of dandelion, beetroot and hazlenuts was fresh and flavourful, the soft sweetness of the beetroot balanced by the dandelion and crunch of nuts. Girolles, artichoke and warm egg yolk was a beautifully rustic mix. Of the mains, I enjoyed rabbit with salsify, a rich and wonderfully autumnal dish. But the main menu innovation at the Green Man over the other three restaurants is the addition of fish. Thus fat scallops were cooked to perfection, bursting with flavour. Likewise sardines Á la plancha with parsley and garlic were spanking fresh, as evocative as any I've had on a harbour front. Deserts are simple but well executed: fromage blanc with berries was light and delicate, sweet but not cloying.
Price: A meal for two with wine, about £80.
By Kerstin KÁ¼hn
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