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Reviews: Jay Rayner finds Cue Point At Home to be 'what we need right now', while Fay Mascher finds standout seafood at Kol in London's Marylebone

08 December 2020
Reviews: Jay Rayner finds Cue Point At Home to be 'what we need right now', while Fay Mascher finds standout seafood at Kol in London's Marylebone

Jay Rayner of The Observer writes that Cue Point At Home's "vibrant, dynamic food… is what we need right now"

I rampage through the delivery menu and end up with a tightly stacked fridge. I decide to empty it across two meals. Cooking mostly involves putting those vac-packed bags in simmering water for between 10 and 25 minutes. For lunch we have the "vegan nacos kit" at £30, which easily serves three of us. There's a generous pile of the breads, which also arrive vac-packed and revive quickly under the grill. To pile into them there's a chunky serving of root veg that have clearly spent a long stretch over indirect heat. They have their own sweet caramelised vegetal funk, but also a bold hit of that smoke. Alongside, there's a smoked ratatouille, which is a lightly spiced version of the French classic after it's been taken out to explore a bit of the world. Add toppings. Put the kitchen roll on the table. You may need it.

That evening we move on to the hefty beef ribs naco kit at £55, plus the heavily sauced lamb ribs. The beef has been removed from the bones, though, endearingly, they have sent those, too, as if showing their workings in the margin. I feared the vac-packing would turn the meats to mush. Instead, it's as if the beef has just left the grill. It has a wonderous black crust and a soothing fibrous texture. It has yielded to the long attentions of the smoke, like Barbara Cartland lazing back on her chaise longue, if she'd ever been rendered on a barbecue. Most of the fat has gone, leaving just the lightest lubrication. It is anything but dry. The lamb ribs are a little chewier, but they too are sweet and lean.

From the vegan side there is borani kadoo, which they describe as a classic Afghan dish, given their own interpretation. Pumpkin has been long-smoked, then braised in a spiced, tomato-based sauce. It is all kinds of spoonable joy. We have their sturdy potato salad and their sweet potato mash, which doesn't quite convince me that it's the best thing to do with a sweet potato.

Price: main dishes, from £14 to £55; sides and jars of condiments, £4-£6; desserts, £14

Cue Point sweet potato mash
Cue Point sweet potato mash

The London Evening Standard's Fay Maschler says the seafood dishes stand out at Kol in London's Marylebone

Tasting menus with a vegetarian option are the order of the day with five or six courses at £55 or £70. There is choice (one of two items) in the main course, but that decision must apply to the whole table. This doctrinal and financially demanding approach is reminiscent of Noma but the labour intensity – apparent in the open kitchens – sort of justifies what boils, braises, grills, steams and smokes down to a meal of five or six tacos.

Seaweed and burnt chilli broth sets the style of coaxing from chillies much more than just heat. Their flavour spectrum inhabits dishes quite differently, sometimes fruitily. Pistachio mole illustrates [Santiago] Lastra's determination to adapt Mexican traditions to native produce, but an avocado purée would have tasted better and neither ingredient grows here.

Ceviche fashioned from shavings of raw kohlrabi is, we think, inexplicable. That root is not in possession of enticing flavour and pink mole, pumpkin aguachile and smoked beetroot strive helplessly to compensate for what is so obviously missing – marinated raw fish.

Two seafood dishes stand out. Langoustines with smoked chilli and sea buckthorn visually and virtually explain its starring role at Noma Mexico. Octopus tentacle marinated in kombucha, briefly grilled and served with glazed bone marrow is another gratifying game to play with knife and scissors and floppy tortillas.

Price: tasting menus, £55-£70; wine pairings, £40

Kol, photo credit: Charlie Mckay
Kol, photo credit: Charlie Mckay

Giles Coren of The Times enthuses over Galvin Bistrot & Bar in Spitalfields, London

There is outside space at Galvin Bistrot & Bar, which is a glorious repurposing of what used to be the Galvin Hop pub attached to Chris and Jeff Galvin's Michelin-starred Galvin La Chapelle.

They've redone the space a bit, but not a lot, and have introduced the menu and spirit of their great first venture – Galvin Bistrot de Luxe on Baker Street – which closed to an ocean of tears in 2018.

My mate Max and I had ethereally crispy and delicious tarte flambée with halves of fresh, unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell from the beautiful copper tanks there; six fat, lustrous snails bourguignonne; a soupe de poisson that foamed like a cappuccino with the sweet, flamboyant flavours of cold seas; a hefty steak tartare with a dazzling stack of the crispiest, piping-hot frites I've seen in a long time; a bubbling caramelised duck leg cassoulet; and then a slice of rhum baba cut from one of three shimmering bronze rolls that arrived on a trolley to be drenched in rum and covered with crème Chantilly at the table. These with perfect coffee and a couple of poire Williams to, as Max put it, "cut through the rum". I can't think of a better spot to get over the past few months and prepare for whatever the coming ones have in store.

Price: £40 per head. Rating: 9/10

Galvin Bistrot
Galvin Bistrot

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