Marina O'Loughlin can't remember a meal that prompted as many "actual, physical reactions" as Tom Sellers' Restaurant Story in London SE1 The restaurant reactionary who's forever bleating about honest scran in comfy surroundings will hyperventilate at the very thought. I know I did. And then food starts coming and you shut the hell up. "Snacks": cod skin crisped into translucent almost-paper; nasturtium flowers cradling oyster sabayon; a rectangle of tender rabbit stuffed with tarragon-scented mousseline and topped with soused carrot of different hues. They're as decorative as modern art and as neckable as Pringles. Then raw scallop with the slippery sweetness of a first snog, spiked with horseradish cream and more nasturtium, and served with cucumber spheres black with dill "ash": sensory light and shade. I knew Sellers was one to watch when I helped judge (anonymously) the YBF Awards last year, and was enchanted by the arrival of a candle in a vintage, nursery-rhyme holder. It was that rarest of experiences: something genuinely new.
Value for money: 8/10
The menu at Tom Sellers' Restaurant Story likes to play, but the services needs more gravitas, says Guy Dimond
The rapid succession of small dishes is playful, evoking childhood memories. The ‘bread and dripping' is a loaf served with a lit candle made of beef dripping; as the tallow melts, you dip the bread as if it's melted butter. Tiny ‘milk bottles', served in a dolls'-house milk crate, contain a dessert of rhubarb, custard, and a hit of sherbet at the bottom, eaten through striped straws. A second dessert of ‘three bears porridge' has one too sweet, one too salty, and one just right. The artistry's not mere gimmickry. Raw scallop is sashimi-grade, cleverly paired with the charcoal-like tang of dill-scented cucumber ash rolled around balls of fresh cucumber. ‘Burnt onion' - actually more caramelised on one side - has a juniper-sharp gin dressing poured over it. There are three beautifully drafted, tiny appetisers,comprising bright nasturtium petals, crisp cod skin and rabbit presented like tiny fish fingers.
The Evening Standard
http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/lifestyle/food-drink/eating-in-or-out/restaurant-review-cabra-verde-york-1-5645220" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">You'll find exemplary cicchetti — Venetian small plates — and charming service at Tozi in Victoria, according to Fay Maschler ](http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/restaurants/tozi--restaurant-review-8598563.html)Baccalà mantecato, a creamy mix that should be made from dried as opposed to salt cod, served with squares of grilled polenta made with organic Polenta bramata almost conjured up ghostly voices of gondoliers. The rotund scallop in its shell with gratin of garlic-shot toasted breadcrumbs was better than any I can remember eating in Venice. Fritto misto didn't exactly speak of the tempting display at the Rialto market but then Vauxhall Bridge Road is hardly the Grand Canal. Octopus with Taggiasche olives, celery fronds, tiny new potato halves and parsley are presented as a coiled tentacle burnished from the grill. Aubergine Parmigiana was the dryish self-contained square it ought to be. The disappointing part of the meal was dessert, where zabaione seemed "like uncooked batter that children have made for a cake", to quote one of my companions, and berries and limoncello millefoglia breached the Trade Descriptions Act with its two layers of thin biscuit.
Price: A meal for two with wine, about £82 (including 12.5% service)
The Sunday Times
[AA Gill found Claude's Kitchen in London SW6 to offer a "meagre" menu and do no more than going through the "minimal motion" ](http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Magazine/food/article1252828.ece)There are 11 things on the menu to cover three courses: half are assemblies, the other half could be cooked by anyone who had slept with a slim Nigel Slater under the pillow. This is an observation rather than a criticism; short and simple can be sublime, but there is a lot less to work with…We all wanted the beef cheek because plainly that was the best thing on the menu, but they only had one serving. Really, how can you have a menu this small and run out of the only meat option at 8.30 in the evening? Eric got it and said it was exceptional — possibly because nobody else had it. The megrim sole was predictably second-rate. The quail was the smallest I have seen. Quail are pretty small to begin with, but this one could have played a dwarf in a quail panto; it was like nibbling on an unlucky sparrow. Best were the mushrooms, but this wasn't really a main course, but a canapé with pretensions.
Rating: atmosphere 3/5, food 2/5
Price: £112.50 for five courses without drinks (including 12.5% service)
Amol Rajan finds the King's Arms in Georgeham, Devon, to be a treasure of a village pub
There is a mixed seafood platter for £22 and large parts of it are delicious: the warm, salty cockles in a buttery sauce; firm and fresh prawns satay-style; crab claws, clams, and mussels; succulent langoustine and excellent aioli with lemon, salad and bread. The only weak points are the squid, which is so rubbery that it tastes more of rubber than cephalopod; and some John Dory fillets, which are a little dry. I could well imagine some locals, and indeed tourists, spending an evening picking away at that selection, washing it down with the superb local ales, or something from the very decent-value wine list, and leaving nourished and happy. But it's worth sticking around to try some of the other stuff. While the moules marinière (£11.50), are nothing particular to write home about, being totally inoffensive (except for the shortage of shallots: I'd like double the number next time, please), a Devon crab linguini with chilli, ginger, coriander and garlic (£12.50) has a Thai twang, more Bangkok than Barnstaple, and is very good.
Price: £75 for two, including bottle of wine
[Adam's Restaurant will join the three Birmingham establishments that already hold stars, says Paul Fulford ](http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/restaurants/restaurant-review-adams-restaurant-bennets-3407290)Tuna that was crimson within its seared surface was beautifully complemented by black pepper and olives, with a scattering of micro-leaves that added an aniseed tang. Better still was a combo of accurately cooked asparagus and runny poached quails' eggs with a warm, thick mayonnaise, the richness of which was reined in by small segments of pink grapefruit that exploded like little citrus bombs. Neither my wife nor I felt any shame as we used our fingers to mop up the remaining mayo and egg from our plates. While this was a soothing and comforting dish, what followed was altogether more robust. A succulent fillet of pork - cooked sous vide, I'm pretty sure - was full of delicate piggy flavour. But alongside was a sort of croquette of shredded slow-cooked ox cheek and smoked eel that packed a real savoury punch. Onions were sharp with vinegar and were perfectly offset by batons of blushingly pink, sweet rhubarb. Sage leaves added earthy and aromatic notes and the whole thing was held together was a wonderfully judged jus that was sticky and meaty.
Price: £199 for five courses for two, with wine
[Jill Turton finds the real Iberian experience in Cabra Verde, York, away from pervasive chain restaurants of the lanesWe began in true Spanish style with sherry and almonds. Not any old sherry this, but a shot of the heavenly, sweet and raisiny Pedro Ximénez (or PX). Not any old nuts but deliciously crunchy Marcona almonds. We can also vouch for the excellence of the Iberico ham after a small plate was served to us "on the house". Then we shared six tapas beginning with pinchos de pollo, gently spiced chicken kebabs on sticks with a light alioli. Next up, sardines - split, boned and marinated in lemon and paprika then fried in breadcrumbs. A plate of Mahon cheese from Menorca came in thin slices drizzled with honey and served with green figs preserved in syrup - a wonderful salt, sweet, tangy combo. The tortilla Espanola was nearly, though not quite, as good as the one my Spanish neighbour makes - it's hard to beat it warm, straight from the pan. The salad of Padron peppers anchovies and walnuts was another winner but the biggest swoon factor kicked in with deep fried squid rings Andalusian style with grilled apple and black pudding an inspired match of crunchy, salty squid rings paired with earthy black pudding and a touch of apple sweetness.
Price: about £25 per person plus wine
Tony Naylor says the brilliant Salutation pub in Manchester, close to the city's universities, is let down by its rooms
For a budget stopover, it is fundamentally sound, but, like patches of paint around the window frames, it is peeling at the edges for want of someone with a keen eye and a bit of energy taking the rooms in hand. Which is slightly galling, given that this vintage Victorian pub is run by the Trof group, which owns some of the best bars and gig spaces in Manchester…The group's bakery is on the site and its chef, Mark Wegner, rustles up pies and stews for the bar. A large braised ox cheek number, served (pie pedants won't like this) in an enamelled dish, under a buttery cushion of puff pastry, was thick with chunks of sticky, melting meat, its red wine and mustard sauce the kind of gravy that spreads a deep satisfaction in the soul. Served with good sourdough bread and floridly perfumed red cabbage, the pies cost just £5. A bargain. If only my room had given me such a warm, welcoming hug. Don't get me wrong, the bed is firm, the pillows are duck-down effect, the bathroom is clean, and the rather drizzling shower stocked with retail-size bottles of Radox and Pantene - which beats tiny, fiddly individual bottles.
Price: doubles from £60
The Sunday Telegraph
Fiona Duncan was rapidly won over by the charm of Swinton Park in Masham, North Yorkshire, despite her three pet hates of anaglypta wallpaper, trouser presses and teddies on the bedsThe style is traditional and conventional, and while the ground floor is splendid (the Georgian drawing room and Victorian dining room are nothing short of sensational), the wide corridors leading to the bedrooms feel more institutional. The 31 rooms range from vast to cosy: I particularly liked Castle Howard, Knaresborough, Ripon and the four-storey Turret occupying the whole of the castle's creeper clad tower. Some rooms look out on to the four-acre walled garden which now produces all the hotel's flowers, asparagus and much more besides, to the delight of Simon Crannage, the chef. We thought his cooking outstandingly good. Our starters of smoked Swinton trout and slow-cooked Tanfield egg were great, but the Masham Fell lamb with smoked aubergine purée, wild garlic, caperberries and lemon oil was the best thing either of us had eaten in ages.
Price: doubles from £185, including breakfast
Tom Chesshyre says that despite the hectic breakfast service, Escape B&B in Llandudno is well worth the room rates
Escape B&B is an imposing converted Victorian house where modern and retro furniture have been carefully mixed with original features. It's sumptuously decorated with chandeliers and original fireplaces in the breakfast room and lounge (where there's an honesty bar). This is a perfect hideaway for a stay by the hills above Wales's biggest resort. Cosy and comfortable, the rooms are individually designed. They're all cool, but room number one, "Contemporary Eclectic", is probably best, with its large bay window, retro swivelling armchairs, grey walls and views across Llandudno. No evening meals are served, but you do get a slap-up Welsh breakfast, comprising award-winning local pork sausages and home-cured bacon with grilled tomatoes, flat mushrooms, baked beans, black pudding, poached eggs and thick brown toast. In short, it was a pile up — but very elegantly presented.
Price: B&B doubles from £89