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What's on the menu? Marina O'Loughlin says Brasserie Zédel makes for a good night out

03 September 2012 by

The Guardian
1 September
In her first review for the Guardian, Marina O'Loughlin says that the food at Brasserie Zédel, London W1, may be ordinary but given the prices and the beautiful room of the place, it still makes for a good night out
More confusion: the prices. They're having a laugh, surely? How can a gaff that breathes the contented sigh of so much loot - look at all that marble! The real gold-leaved architraves! The liveried crockery and peachy linen! - feature a menu where one starter is £2.25 and main courses average a tenner? A fine lemon tart - short, crisp pastry, dense, lemony custard - is three quid. It's as dizzying as the thought that this whole Beaux Arts-style brasserie was taken apart and reassembled like a vast, architectural jigsaw. Otherwise, the food is by and large defiantly ordinaire. As it is at the likes of Paris's redoubtable Chartier, to which the owners acknowledge a debt and several similarities of ‘Allo ‘Allo-ish menu item: carottes rapées, oeufs durs mayonnaise, choucroute Alsacienne… Apart from excellent bread and butter, it all tastes a little, well, cheap. The most expensive starter is a foie gras parfait, but the mousse is granular, as if the buttery foie were cut with a cheaper ingredient such as, maybe, chicken liver; its crystalline cubes of jelly are watery, not solid, sticky sauternes.
Price: About £30 a head

30 August
In her last review for the Metro, Marina O'Loughlin says with its sterile environment and sky-high prices, you shouldn't bank on Italian restaurant Banca, London W1, impressing you
The waiters, with whose arses I'm becoming intimate as they bang against my chair while faffing around the service station, aren't keen on thinking outside the box. A request for fried zucchini and carrots as a starter rather than a side dish gets the same kind of reaction as if I'd asked them to get me the Pope's mobile number. When I ask for espresso I get cappuccino, probably because I'm a girl who won't realise the solecism of ordering one post-meal and cappuccinos are what girls like. Now here's a weird thing: the pal has been to Banca before and orders exactly the same cod-with-leeks dish she had the previous time. But this one arrives genuinely half the size and at the same price: she has a photograph of it as proof (us foodies, eh?). Not only is it a tiny sliver of cod for £24 but it's hectically over-seasoned. I know it's "baccalà" or salted cod but it clearly hasn't been soaked for long enough: it's like chomping on fishy Maldon's. Gnocchi: these are soggy, depressed little dumplings, their taleggio cheese sauce has split, girolle mushrooms are chewy and summer truffle is devoid of fragrance or flavour. Spaghetti House, two minutes away, would blush at this.
Score: 2/5
Price: A meal for two with two glasses of wine and an Aperol Spritz costs £140

The Independent on Sunday
2 September
Lisa Markwell says the food at Duck & Waffle on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower in the City of London may not be faultless but the experience is
Our ordering has been as ecletic as the menu. Between three, we're not sure how many snacks, small plates, brick-oven dishes and "for the table" offerings to assemble. Our waiter says the idea is to order what you fancy, and they can bring more quickly if you're not full. This suck-it-and-see approach makes me a little uneasy but it turns out that with a small dish of an unctuous burrata with capers and pickled red onion (£8), spiced lamb cutlets with smoked aubergine purée (£12) and octopus with chorizo and lemon (£9) from the wood oven, we're sated. We certainly didn't need the extra cutlets the keen-eyed and ultra-efficient manager Gavin brought over as a "sorry" for a dodgy flatbread, but we managed to put away the tender, smoky little buggers anyway. I can't manage more than a teaspoon of our shared, sublime torrejas with maple-caramel apples - the Spanish-y French toast is so rich and creamy and the apple so toothsome, I fear that if the plunge down in the lift doesn't get me, the sudden onset of diabetes might.
Score: 8/10
Price: £120 for two, with wine

The Observer
2 September
Expensive wine list aside, the menu at Duck & Waffle atop the Heron Tower in the City of London amounts to value for the food and the view, says Jay Rayner
The title dish is two fluffy waffles with a hunk of crisp-skinned duck confit, a fried duck egg and a pitcher of spiced maple syrup. It's the sort of thing you'd only want to eat if you were so bladdered you felt the need to keep clicking your tongue against the roof of your mouth to see if your brain could register the movement. They also sell strips of crispy pig ear seasoned with sugar, salt and a few spices. It makes them taste like Frazzles, which is obviously genius. They come in brown paper bags. We ordered a second bag and only didn't order a third out of shame.There was a smoked haddock scotch egg with a curried mayonnaise which was a cute riff on kedgeree, and knobbly limbs of grilled octopus with bits of chorizo and caper. There was a bowl of mussels and clams in a broth to be spilt down your pink TM Lewin shirt and a vibrant, zippy tomato salad with the word "heritage" in the title, which I'll forgive because the ingredients were so bang on. Best of all was a tiny burger of Herdwick mutton, with that funky meat-on-the-turn flavour you get from big-bollocked animals who have lived on a windblown hillside.
Price: Meal for two, including wine and service, £110

The Times
1 September
Tony Turnbull says the Hand & Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, may be more of a restaurant than a pub but Tom Kerridge is a powerhouse of a chef
et's start with two meaty scallops taking a dip in a warm beef bouillon so intensely flavoured it makes you cry God for Harry, England and Saint George (£15). The black truffle grated liberally over the scallops was there to mollify those who need to see where their money is going, but the apple foam and geranium leaves were a touch of genius that planted the dish firmly in the English countryside. A parfait of duck and foie gras (£11.50), served incongruously on a Japanese plate, was a savoury ice-cream in all but name, a perfect quenelle on top of a consommé jelly, the bitterness of the liver tempered by the orange chutney and sweet brioche toast. Moules marinière (£9.50), far from being a pub standby, was a richly ferrous velouté of shelled mussels in a sauce of cream, stout and parsley. Tom Kerridge, who has twice got to the finals of Great British Menu, is a powerhouse of a chef with forearms the size of ham hocks.
Score: 8/10

The London Evening Standard
30 August
Liz Hoggard says Tonkotsu, a new restaurant from the people behind Tsuru which specialises in Japanese soup ramen, a welcome Soho addition
s the veggie, I opt for miso and shimeji mushroom ramen with bean sprouts, bamboo and a perfectly cooked floating egg (£9). A big soup of different depths and flavours, it has top notes and base notes just like perfume. Peter has Tokyo spicy (£9), with pulled chilli pork shoulder, egg and thicker noodles. In fact it's not very spicy but he likes the way the thin long pieces of pork fuse seamlessly with the thicker noodles, all served in a large bowl "to avoid accidents". We watch in awe as the Japanese diners "slurp" - scooping up noodles with chopsticks as they spoon the soup into their mouths. We finish off with ice-cream little moons (£4) - salted caramel, yuzu and sesame. Lovely, apart from the sesame, which we spit out. "Like the discharge when you bleed a radiator!" Don't expect luxury. The service is brusque. The wine list is short: organic and biodynamic wines, British craft beers, sake and whisky. But I really like the minimalist wooden and steel decor with its woodblock prints - a quirky take on the traditional ramen shop.
Score: 3/5
Price: About £70 for two with wine, sake and tip

By Kerstin Kühn

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