Welcome to Bon Vivant’s summary of the critics’ restaurant reviews. Enjoy!
Giles Coren, The Times
Giles visits Agaric in Ashburton, which is ‘independent, original and excellent’ with ‘first-rate food’.
Scallops were ‘wonderfully fresh’, mackerel fillets were ‘plump, shimmering’, the ‘gorgeous slab of turbot’ was ‘just a few seconds this side of perfect’, and blackcurrant parfait with raspberry and redcurrant sauce was ‘beautiful’. 8 out of 10.
AA Gill, The Sunday Times
AA Gill visits Koffmann’s at The Berkeley Hotel, where the ‘food’ ‘is full of technique and precision and well-modulated manners and wit’ with ‘exemplary and solicitous’ service but the décor ‘doesn’t have a personality or an opinion or any discernible style’.
Snails, girolles and pomme purée was ‘fine, but the dish was muddy and slurred’, the chicken for two was ‘pretty perfect: the flavours were fine and intense, the presentation simple and assured’, the pied de cochon (pig’s trotter stuffed with sweetbreads and morels) was ‘an amazing dish, both rooted, peasant and honest, but also unctuous and refined and sophisticated’ and the peach melba was ‘neat and correct’. 4 stars out of 5.
Bob Granleese, The Guardian
Bob visits Ganapati, a ‘smart little restaurant’ in Peckham.
Deep-fried mashed potato balls were ‘of commendably non-oily fluffiness’, a pair of chickpea patties had ‘a pleasing, nutty crunch’, ‘beautifully fresh’ sardines ‘came simply fried and atop thinly sliced red onion’, crab thoran was ‘such a happy marriage of crab meat, onion, ginger, spices and grated coconut’, lamb kurma with coconut rice was ‘grown-ups’ comfort food’ and a watermelon sorbet was ‘cleverly enlivened by chunks of crystallised ginger’. 8 out of 10.
Jay Rayner, The Observer
Jay visits Zucca in Bermondsey, where the ‘big selling point is a lengthy list of antipasti at astonishingly good prices’.
‘Baked hunks of beetroot, long-roasted shallots and soft goat’s cheese’ was ‘both pretty and rich’, a plate of pumpkin was ‘soft cooked, chipped and lightly battered’, wide pappardelle with peas, lemon and a snowfall of grated Parmesan ‘had run out’ ‘but’ ‘looked irritatingly lovely’, taglierini with brown shrimps and courgette was ‘a beautiful fusion of an English ingredient with Italian principles’, a veal chop, ‘with crisp, caramelised fat’ was ‘a simple dish full of simple virtues’, the panna cotta with roasted peaches was ‘slightly overset’ and an almond and cherry tart was ‘more than slightly over-baked’. No rating given.
John Walsh, The Independent
John visits Belvedere in Holland Park, which is ‘a thing of considerable beauty’, but ‘it doesn’t feel friendly or romantic’ and ‘the waiting staff are helpful but strangely glum’.
Smoked trout rillettes with a tomato and cucumber dressing was ‘deliciously subtle and smoky but without enough salsa’, a cocktail of Devon crab and king prawns ‘tasted fine’, Parma ham with roasted figs, rocket and parmesan, ‘while perfectly OK, could have done with a touch of moisture’, monkfish with chorizo, cockles and samphire was ‘fine, except there were no cockles, and the sauce was sweet’, a rib-eye steak was ‘nicely charred’ but with a ‘dark, gloopy, tarragon-free jus’, and duck confit with wilted pak choi and ratte potatoes was ‘tender and tasty’.
2 stars out of 5 for the food and service; 4 stars out of 5 for the ambience.
Amol Rajan, The Independent on Sunday
Amol visits The Hinds Head, a ‘glorious English pub’ in Bray.
The duck and smoked guinea fowl terrine was ‘delicious’, oxtail and kidney pudding had ‘ribbons of juicy flesh, and perfect little sub-globules of ravishable kidney’, a pea and ham soup tasted ‘of pea and ham’, a venison cheeseburger was ‘beautifully cooked, but idiotically served on a tiny wooden board’, and sherry-poached peaches with vanilla ice cream and raspberries tasted ‘of sherry, peaches, vanilla, and raspberries, but not powerfully of any’. 6 out of 10.
Matthew Norman, The Telegraph
Matthew visits Ognisko Polish Club, ‘an amalgam of Thirties Warsaw’ and a ‘mid-Eighties Eastbourne hotel’ near the Royal Albert Hall, where ‘the lack of effort was’ ‘astonishing’.
The beetroot soup was ‘as delectable a paean to coloured dishwater as you will ever find’, ‘greasy’ blinis ‘came with poor smoked salmon, a few Sevruga eggs and lashings of the sour cream that provided what little flavour there was’, an ‘amalgam of mushy avocado and sour pink grapefruit salad’ came with ‘anaemic, hatefully salty ham’, pierogi (cheese and minced lamb-filled dumplings) were ‘sensationally dull and clumping’ and the guinea fowl was ‘overcooked, overcharged and overpowered by monstrously sweet red cabbage’. 2 out of 10.
Zoe Williams, The Telegraph
Zoe visits the ‘predominantly beige’ 101 Pimlico Road, where the ‘menu’ is ‘fine’ but ‘it isn’t trying hard enough’.
Mozzarella was ‘pretty good’, grilled Mediterranean vegetables with garlic, rosemary and pesto ‘just didn’t taste of enough’, the cod on chorizo mash ‘had the gluey consistency that is the result of electric mixing’, the chicken supreme was ‘rather pale and, again, very weddingy’, and the peanut ice cream had ‘too much sugar and the peanut was consigned to a latest possible aftertaste’. 5 out of 10.
Fay Maschler, The Evening Standard
Fay visits Dishoom ‘an evocation of a Bombay “Irani” café’ in Covent Garden, where ‘the authenticity of the food offering is by the by’.
‘A couple of visits impressed with the freshness and immediacy of the cooking and the willingness of the staff’. ‘Standout dishes’ included tomato shorba, ‘warm, generously buttered’ toasted soft white rolls topped with spiced minced meat, ‘slow-cooked, sonorous house black dhal’ and fresh mango with vanilla yoghurt. 3 stars out of 5.
Fay also visits Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, where ‘the dishes’ ‘are simply true to their essence; fresh, seemingly healthy and fairly priced’.
Crispy squid and courgette fritti were both ‘meticulously fried in clean oil without a whisper of greasiness’, “Beautiful” bucatini carbonara ‘fulfilled its description except that spaghetti would have been nicer than wormy bucatini’, chargrilled chop-steak beefburger was ‘much appreciated and immaculately trimmed lamb-chop lollipops cooked with a little pinkness at the centre under a brick and served with three dips were a marvel for £13.95’. 3 stars out of 5.
Marina O’Loughlin, The Metro
Marina, who doesn’t ‘normally bang on about prices’ makes ‘an exception’ after her visit to Tom’s Terrace at Somerset House, which ‘could easily be one of the hottest tables in town’ but ‘instead, banal food and greedy prices just add up to bathos’.
Gazpacho, at ‘a whopping £9’ had ‘good consistency, good flavour, a couple of tapenade-topped croutons… but it’s still just cold tomato soup’, ‘big chips’ were ‘four pounds bleeding 50’, a ‘small greyish burger’ ‘has what little taste it possesses flattened by too much lollipop-sweet onion relish’, steak sandwich features ‘decent, robust meat’, and coronation crab salad was ‘poor: thin layer of high-smelling crab in a sour curried dressing’. 2 stars out of 5.
Ute Johana, Hungry in London
Ute visits the Cloudy Bay Shack, a pop-up restaurant with a ‘relaxed and friendly’ atmosphere in Parsons Green from Cloudy Bay and Tom Aikens, where she ‘really enjoyed the food’.
Dorset Crab with Chilli and Ginger dressing was ‘my personal winner’ ‘with the tangy sauce and the bitterness of the chicory’ ‘perfectly paired with the Riesling’, the 7 hour cooked lamb was ‘beyond tender with the meat falling apart and it tasted delicious’, the crabcakes were ‘light and fluffy and subtly flavoured lying on a bed of tomato salsa’, but the tomato salad was ‘the weakest dish – the tomatoes had a rubbery texture as if they had been stored in the fridge for too long’.
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