Reviews: William Sitwell is in the dark at Home and Grace Dent visits Goddard & Gibbs

24 May 2022
Reviews: William Sitwell is in the dark at Home and Grace Dent visits Goddard & Gibbs

William Sitwell of The Daily Telegraph is left squinting in the darkness of Home, Leeds

So Home has black walls and ceilings, dark grey tables and only little lights that shine down on your face and give some subtle illumination of what's on the plate.

With the staff all in black they almost disappear; like theatre hands who nip on stage to move the set around or swap musicians' guitars.

It begins with Lobster, goes via Skate and ends with ‘You & Me, Me & You'. Under each word is a series of letters, codifying allergens. Lobster has a full house of D, Cr, G, N, signifying dairy, crustacea, gluten and nuts.

The effect is ceaseless curiosity; the night is one long squint. Is that the kitchen in the distance? Is that a waiter approaching? What else comes with the lobster? What the hell is the ‘You & Me and Them & Us' or whatever? Why is there a piece of driftwood on my table – and is that a pile of pebbles I see before me? Each dish glints in the spotlight, a lobster tail fritter here, a rabbit in a dumpling there, a bit of scallop here, a bowl of Rollright cheese there… And each one requiring an explanation from the waiter, while I lurched through the list of wines by the glass, hoping for greatness only to hear the words "and we suggest a glass of orange wine to match the scallop".

When the Rollright cheese came the waiter told me it was their version of a fondue; their version being a rather gloopy and sticky phlegm of cheese that I dipped bread into. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the Swiss version.

Dessert was something called ‘Rose', served in a large grey ashtray.

Price: dinner for one: £110 excluding drinks and service

The Guardian's Grace Dent decides that next time she'll sail on past Goddard & Gibbs, east London

Goddard & Gibbs has dropped anchor at the new One Hundred Shoreditch hotel, formerly known as the Ace.

Goddard & Gibbs definitely does seafood, beginning with Maldon oysters, raw Orkney scallops with elderflower, dressed crab and steamed mussels, before moving on to hake kiev, poached Cornish pollock and skate wing with XO butter. And that all seemed very encouraging – until the food began to arrive, when I started to suspect that here was a kitchen doing the very minimum it could to push out hundreds of covers a day, with few flourishes, scant innovation and often little flavour at all.

Six oysters turned up on a silver stand with a red-wine shallot dressing – that is, exactly how we've been eating them in the UK for the past 50 years – followed by a plate of yuzu-cured chalk stream trout that wasn't particularly zinging with freshness. Sea bream ceviche was marginally better, with a soy dressing and topped with slivers of scotch bonnet. A bowl of "ember-baked" potatoes with cod's roe was served with such little attention to detail that I began to feel offended.

We ordered "the catch of the day", which that evening was more sea bream, this time butterflied and overcooked by about five minutes. It lacked anything saucy, oily or buttery to help it along, apart from some shaved fennel and more thinly sliced scotch bonnet.

The overall mood of the experience puzzles me. Why open a gigantic seafood restaurant with little care or attention to the fine culinary art of fish cookery? The staff were charming, sometimes attentive and dealt stoically with the fact that those lovely, six-person booths are so deep, they can barely hand the food into them safely.

Goddard & Gibbs is a confused restaurant that's perfect for people who are on holiday in Shoreditch, who may want to drink heavily and have a lovely time talking to friends, and who don't really care if they don't remember a whole lot about dinner. Next time, I'll sail right past.

Price: from £45 a head à la carte, plus drinks and service

Murray Chalmers tastes the best falafel of his life at Beirut in Dundee

Beirut is what I've been looking for in Dundee for a long time and I was so thrilled to discover it that I ended up eating there three times in the same week. It's really that good.

The menu here is short but everything I tried was delicious. A bowl of tabbouleh (£5.95) was so wonderfully assertively flavoured that I could have eaten it three times over and still wanted more.

The star of the show for me is probably the hummus chicken shawarma (£7.50), a dish of such joy I'm hankering for it again even as I type this. Served simply, with a pickle and some lemon for balance, this dish was so good I got another portion, plus the lamb equivalent (£7.95) to take home with me for dinner that night.

Seven fluffy, intensely-flavoured falafel come with a spicy home-made sauce of great flair, an equally perfectly-balanced tahini sauce, salad, pickles, hot flatbread and a portion of golden turmeric rice flecked with parsley. This was freshness on a plate and tasted so delicious – the falafel were definitely the best I've ever tasted in my long life.

By now you've probably realised I love this place, so a third visit to try the halloumi (£5.95) was really just to celebrate the joy of this simple, fantastic food and to see how halloumi, so often cooked and presented so it resembles rubber sealant, might be transformed here. Needless to say it was great.

Price: meze from £5.50, wraps from £7.95, mains from £7.95

Daily Mail's Tom Parker Bowles is rendered speechless at Sessions Arts Club in Clerkenwell

Well, it's certainly a looker, the Sessions Arts Club in Clerkenwell, housed in old Middlesex Court House. It feels like an elegantly faded Italian palazzo, all soaring arches, ornate cornices and tastefully peeling plaster.

The food, from Florence Knight – a hugely talented chef whose cooking just seems to get better and better – effortlessly matches the surroundings. Ostensibly Italian, she makes no claims as to absolute authenticity. Her personality, though, is stamped on every dish. And what a menu it is. Flavours can be big and bold – a great burnished crab croquette, barely able to contain its oozing, swaggering, salty sea-dog centre. Or crisp pane carasau topped with a mess of bitter cavolo nero, spiked with anchovy and topped with grated bottarga. What could be fishily overwhelming is exquisitely judged, strident but somehow soothing. Potato and eel cake has a splendidly stodgy heft, the chunks of smoked fish lifting the crisp confit potatoes from everyday to exalted.

There's delicacy, too: slivers of raw sea bream sitting in a limpid broth of tomato water swirled with verdant parsley oil. Baby turnips add sweet crunch. A silken purée of cannellini beans, with the most gentle garlic sigh, is topped with grilled, still crunchy friggitelli peppers.

A sliver of immaculate chocolate tart renders us both speechless, a rare thing indeed.

Price: about £40 per head

Lisa Grainger of The Times finds Shoreditch vibes at Twenty Two in Mayfair

By reinventing No 22 as a 31-room members' club-cum-hotel, the Iranian investor Navid Mirtorabi and the billionaire Newcastle United co-owner Jamie Reuben have created a place in which power brokers and partiers can mix. From the outside, the five-storey stone building oozes the scent of old money. Inside it feels relaxed, elegant and naughty, its black-and-white tiles, mirrored surfaces and gilded details reminiscent of the Ritz Paris.

Grosvenor Square has not previously been a neighbourhood that has attracted the young. The Twenty Two will surely change that. Its staff are diverse, friendly and polished, from the helpful doormen (one a charming former teacher) to the MD, Darius Namdar, the former maître d' at the Chiltern Firehouse.

The rooms have been individually decorated by the Mexican-born Cuban-American Natalia Miyar to offer choices from a snug attic space with dizzying Pierre Frey wallpaper and patterned, fringed chairs, to a theatrical double-height suite with a scarlet velvet-covered four-poster, heavy red velvet curtains and etchings of nudes.

The bathrooms are a triumph: clad in black-and-white marble tiles, and generously stocked with Italian towels, black-piped slippers and gown, and fragrant in-house amenities. The minibar stock ranges from Noam Bavarian lager and Spanish Le Tribute ginger beer to smoked almonds.

Price: B&B doubles from £465; mains from £22

Richard Vines praises a lightness of touch at Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai in London's West End

The restaurant is named after a residential neighbourhood of Mumbai and specialises in small plates inspired by traditional recipes and regional cooking, but with modern presentation and style.

The chef is Avinash Shashidhara. He grew up as a vegetarian in southern Bangalore and his training included a six-month stint at the Oberoi group. He then worked at the Park, a boutique hotel in Bangalore, where Antonio Carluccio had a restaurant and used to visit to train the chefs. After he moved to the UK, Avinash worked at Hibiscus in Ludlow and (briefly) for Skye Gyngell at Petersham Nurseries before spending more than a decade at the River Café.

I'm not going to say that you can spot Italian influences in his cooking (heaven forbid) but that devotion to quality produce and seasonality is there, along with a lightness of touch.

I opted for spicy papadi chat (£12): small, crispy crackers with yogurt, Datterini tomato, pomegranate, sev, mint and tamarind chutney. It was a great mix of textures and spicy flavours. And then there was Pondicherry fried squid (£14), in a light coating with crispy Tropea (sweet Italian) onions and Guntoor chilli chutney. The main of homestyle fish curry (£26) sounds more traditional, but it is made with wild halibut, mussels, tomato, green mango, tamarind and coconut for deep flavours without excessive richness.

Ambience: relaxed; food: seasonal and not heavy; service: knowledgeable

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking