Welcome to Bon Vivant’s summary of the critics’ restaurant reviews. Enjoy!
Marina O’Loughlin, The Metro
Marina visits Tinello, ‘a sensibly priced Italian’ in Pimlico ‘which has some luscious dishes on offer’.
The gnudi was ‘absolutely luscious’, ‘superlatively light clouds of ricotta and spinach in a punchy, rich tomato sauce’, ‘a dish of pearly, fresh brill in a clam and borlotti broth’ was ‘one of the best uses of the humble legume I’ve come across in ages’, paccheri were ‘served thrillingly al dente’, ‘soppressata di testa’ was ‘good, silky, porky meat, funked up with shallots, parsley and capers’, and puddings were ‘assured’. 4 stars out of 5.
Andrew Neather, The Evening Standard
Andrew visits The Ledbury in Notting Hill, which ‘is cool, almost austere’, with ‘bold and complex’ food, where ‘the service is faultless: friendly and relaxed yet razor sharp’.
Ceviche of scallops with seaweed was ‘delicate, sort-of Japanese and yet something else’, flame-grilled mackerel with cucumber, celtic mustard and shiso was ‘an intense burst of flavour with clear Japanese influences’, heritage tomato salad was ‘a picture on the plate, awash with the intense flavours of some impeccably sourced tomatoes’, celeriac baked in ash with wood sorrel was ‘intense’, ‘wonderfully fresh sea bass came with shavings of English truffle’, a square of suckling pig was ‘a striking combination of textures’ and a brown sugar tart with stem-ginger ice cream and muscat grapes ‘offered a richly satisfying end to the meal’. 4 stars out of 5.
Giles Coren, The Times
Giles visits Trullo in Islington, which is ‘small, perfectly formed’, ‘cosy and intimate’, with ‘impeccable’ food that is ‘priced like somebody has no interest in getting rich’.
The bottarga and Gem salad was ‘spellbinding’, the bruschetta was ‘nicely charred’, deep-fried squash and taleggio were ‘beautifully clean and dry’, the home-made pasta was ‘some of the best’ ‘you’ll find anywhere’, roasted halibut with razor clams and chard was ‘just perfect’ and a fig and almond tart was ‘great’. 9 out of 10.
Zoe Williams, The Telegraph
Zoe visits The Waterdine in Shropshire, which ‘is all charm, a dinky, squat little country pub’, where ‘the prices are steep’ but there is ‘excellence on this menu’.
The ham hock, hyssop and parsley terrine ‘tasted so right it was as if the pig had been born in terrine form’, the fennel soup ‘was good and bad: the fennel was powerful’ ‘but very well handled’ but ‘in texture, though, it was a bit fibrous’, the saddle of local lamb resulted in ‘moments when I wanted to leap up in awe, and moments when it tasted like the reject table off Junior Masterchef’, the duck breast with cassis sauce was ‘better’, and the gooseberry fool was ‘great in conjunction with some poached gooseberries’. 6 out of 10.
Matthew Norman, The Telegraph
Matthew visits The Crooked Billet, ‘hidden away in picturesque rural Oxfordshire’, with a ‘gutsy, determinedly unpretentious menu’.
A foie gras and chicken liver parfait with toasted brioche and onion marmalade was ‘marvellous’, crispy duck with cucumber, spring onion and pickled ginger was ‘as fine a version as I’ve had, the duck skin perfectly crunchy, and the meat juicy and sweet, the soy-and-sesame dressing faultless’, slices of venison ‘were as alluringly red as the walls’, a ‘vast’ veal chop with a ‘glorious, tarragon-infused fricassee of wild mushrooms and grilled asparagus’ was ‘delicious’, and the Eton Mess was ‘impeccable’. 9 out of 10.
John Lanchester, The Guardian
John visits The Fish Shed in Devon, which ‘has this simple and wonderful policy: it sells only fish caught that day and landed in Lyme Bay’.
Dover sole was ‘beautiful, filleted and grilled simply’, fried haddock was ‘as good as it gets, the flesh moist and dense, the batter satisfyingly thick but also crunchy and light’, battered sausages were ‘awesome’ and the chips were ‘top-notch, and proper British chips, too, thick and potatoey, as well as crunchy to the bite, irregular in cut and full of flavour’. No rating given.
Christopher Hirst, The Independent
Christopher visits La Lanterna in Scarborough, where ‘the menu’ ‘is your first indication that’ the restaurant ‘is exceptional’.
Pears baked in red wine ‘protruded phallically from a warm sauce of gorgonzola and mascarpone’ and ‘tasted as sexy as it looked’, roasted peppers in a bagna cauda sauce on deep-fried polenta was ‘an intense combination of pungency and sweetness, emollience and crunch’, battered langoustines were ‘six gigantic, butterflied crustaceans of scarcely conceivable sweetness and tenderness’, risotto cooked with orange and Raschera cheese was ‘a masterly rendition’, and ox cheek cooked in red wine for seven hours was ‘tender, rich and flaking’. 4 stars out of 5 for the food and service; 3 stars out of 5 for the ambience.
AA Gill, The Sunday Times
AA Gill visits Pizza East, ‘a cleverly made room, spun and thrown with dexterity’ in Shoreditch, where the menu is ‘very cleverly and carefully manipulated’.
Home-made cereal was ‘good, but the sort of thing you resent going out to eat’, calamari was ‘a bit like the by-product of some other dish we didn’t get’, and a pizza with sweet ham and ricotta was ‘claggy and thick-tongued’. 2 stars out of 5.
Jay Rayner, The Observer
Jay visits Redhook in Clerkenwell, which ‘looks right, in a solid Manhattan Meatpacking District sort of way’, where ‘the cooking’ ‘is a blurred approximation of the real thing’ and the service is ‘sweet, enthusiastic’ and ‘without fault’.
Giant grilled prawns ‘had been split down the back to remove the gut, but the job was unfinished’, scallops ‘had not been seared properly, though the cubes of pork belly were certainly crisp enough’, the ribeye was ‘a nice enough piece of meat but cut far too thin’, the New York strip was ‘just a small, flat sirloin’, and desserts were ‘actively awful’. No rating given.
Katy Guest, The Independent on Sunday
Katy visits The Red Fort in Soho, where ‘what comes out of their kitchen truly is exceptional’.
The monkfish tikka was ‘subtle, fresh and with just enough chilli kick’, the Hyderabadi bhuna gosht (Herdwick lamb with ginger, garlic, black pepper and coriander) was ‘dark and complexly tasty’, the nalli rogan josh (lamb shank with nutmeg, cinnamon and bay leaves) tasted ‘pleasingly of lamb, complemented by spices’, and a panchrangi dal was ‘more exciting than lentils have any right to be’. 6 out of 10.