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The 2016 Harden's Guide

2016 Hardens Restaurant Guide

"User friendly in price, size and outlook"

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Restaurant Diner Reviews

Reviews of Restaurant in , by users of Hardens.com. Also see the editors review of restaurant.
Niels A
still probably the best fish restaurant in ...
Reviewed Today

"still probably the best fish restaurant in London"

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Paul A
We are devotees of The Artichoke and have b...
Reviewed 1 day ago

"We are devotees of The Artichoke and have been for some years which is why we are fully in agreement both with Hardens when they state that “the debate should not be whether or not it should have a star, but whether or not it should have two” and with The Good Food Guide which rates it much higher than a whole raft of one star outfits. You are guaranteed a top-class fine dining experience here, without the self-conscious flashiness and theatre some places seem to consider necessary to make an impression. We got straight into the amuse-bouche, a delightfully pure and welcomingly refreshing chilled watermelon soup, which set us up nicely for the smoked haddock with radish, super horseradish cream balancing the subtle smokiness of the fish, and shades of beetroot. We had decided not to take the wine flight with the tasting menu, and after consulting the knowledgeable restaurant manager and sommelier, Matteo, we chose what turned out to be the perfect white for the first four fish and shellfish dishes - inevitably an Italian wine by a top maker, Cervaro della Sala. Scallops are customary, almost obligatory, in good restaurants these days, but not all of them are handled as well as this - impeccably roasted and with a stunning shellfish tarragon reduction, outstanding local, peanut fed, ham, and an amusing carrot mousse decorated with a carrot top. The next dish on the menu was cucumber, not something I enjoy as the main ingredient, so I was offered Lyme Bay crab which I gratefully accepted. My wife was very happy with the pickled cucumber, the ubiquitous burrata, cucumber foam, rye bread crumbs and nasturtium leaves and flowers adding colour and bite. My classic shredded crab was graced with Isle of Wight heritage tomatoes, a remarkable tomato essence jelly, an original passion fruit dressing which brought out the taste of the crab, and croutons for crunch, and made me really pleased that I had managed to forgo the cucumber. There was no question of declining the next dish, the king of fish, turbot, a generous fillet simply presented in all its glory, bathing in a superb oyster and champagne sauce and accompanied by Jersey royals, and quite munchy sea veg and seaweed provided added texture. The Artichoke tasting menu permits a choice of main, and my wife preferred a change from lamb, so she selected the very local duck, succulent breast and extra-tasty confit leg, confit bacon, a proper portion of ripe peas, cooked baby gem lettuce, fragrant marjoram and some amazing duck liver butter on a large crisp. I wanted to try the Sicilian syrah with the lamb rump, and they proved to be very suitable match, with the melt-in-the-mouth meat perfectly backed up by a lovely aubergine purée, borlotti and cocoa beans, juicy olives, tenderstem broccoli, quite pungent feta, and an unannounced but very welcome portion of stunningly good sweetbread. The pre-dessert was a sharp yet sweet redcurrant compôte on iced yoghurt, just the job to cleanse the palate for our desserts: a szechuan pepper ice cream with pineapple tart and pistachio, followed by a winning strawberry galette with pastry cream, caramelised white chocolate and strawberry sorbet for my wife, and a sensational pickled French cherry jelly with Brillat Savarin cheesecake and toasted oats for me. Laurie Gear and head chef Ben Jenkins had pulled it off again!"

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Paul A
Mark Abbott deserves more recognition than ...
Reviewed 1 day ago

"Mark Abbott deserves more recognition than he gets. Of the three times now that we have dined at Midsummer Daniel Clifford has twice not been in the kitchen, and yet both times our meal has been impeccable. We believe that a head chef has to be capable of matching the performance of the chef patron/executive chef so that the absence of the latter does not affect the quality of what is served to the diners. But for us this should imply that the paying customer should be made aware of who is heading up the kitchen and more exposure given to the chef in charge. There is a relaxed elegance about the dining room and the confident front-of-house staff, headed by an experienced gallic duo with a surprisingly English sense of humour, echo this feeling. Exemplary canapés ranging from sour cream with apple, through beetroot tuile with goat’s cheese and apple, the familiar ham hock with crispy onion and piccalilli, to a cornet of smoked eel with a background touch of lemon, led us into a new tweak for the Bloody Mary pre-amuse-bouche, this time in gel form with celeriac and celery salt making a cheeky early palate cleanser. The amuse-bouche proper was an admirably well-balanced Cornish crab and ginger mix supported by frozen lime and coriander, which was the prelude to the main theatre of the evening in the form of an imposing spherical cooking sphere with open coals inside baking a whole celeriac which was wheeled to the table, the baked black celeriac extracted with a flourish and a large scoopful whisked onto the plates. This actually left a fair amount behind, but it was clearly not wasted as we received four more variations on the theme with pickled, burnt, caramelised and roasted celeriac making up a full palette of textures and flavours for the one vegetable, all of them supported by a lovely hazelnut hollandaise. Not content with that, the kitchen then produced a celeriac mousse to accompany Orkney scallops but this was completely different with a judicious sprinkling of truffle and some Granny Smith twiglets. The sautéed foie gras was perfect with its soul mate gingerbread crumble, a beautifully balanced orange gel, pear, and chicory in a gingerbread half tube. The full meatiness of the roasted monkfish was skilfully brought out by a super red wine reduction and the violet artichoke mousse. The lamb dish was made up of a terrific roast rack infused with basil and with proper crispy fat and moreish confit of smoked shoulder accompanied by fresh peas, broad beans and tomatoes and a quite wonderful, almost old-fashioned gravy. Two desserts followed, stunning aerated pear crisp with blueberry powder and a white chocolate bomb, and an equally impressive yoghurt sorbet with passion fruit jelly, chocolate cream and crispy topping. All this and we still had room for substantial petits fours comprising sugared fried beignets with a caramelised apple sauce as a dip, and assorted pastries. Mention should also be made of the quality of the wine flight which contained some very classy bottles. Definitely a fine-dining experience worthy of the very top rating."

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Chris J
Excellent value set lunch menu. Generally g...
Reviewed 2 days ago

"Excellent value set lunch menu. Generally good food but some dishes ill conceived & kitchen doesn't always cook perfectly"

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Georges A
You're in safe hands here. Phil Howard is a...
Reviewed 2 days ago

"You're in safe hands here. Phil Howard is a sorcerer. His combination of flavours is always elegant and creative. Try his take on the burrata or the beef tartare to start, the grouse or any of the fish on the menu. Utterly delicious. This is going to be huge. We're booking again before it gets impossible to get a table"

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Martin B
Wonderfully clean, impeccably cooked dishes...
Reviewed 2 days ago

"Wonderfully clean, impeccably cooked dishes. Thoroughly modern English food. Mackerel starter and pork belly are the stand out dishes, with the buns and chips also living up to their star billing. Caring service (both to customer and their product). Interesting wine list. Fantastic."

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Joe S
Superb but very expensive. It’s a g...
Reviewed 2 days ago

"Superb but very expensive. It’s a great space, and they have a terrific display and choice of Mediterranean fish flown in each day. We were 6 people and I think it works better for a group than it would for 2 because you can choose larger fish (you choose your fish and pay for them by weight). We had a large turbot and splendid black spot sea bream beautifully but simply prepared and put in the middle of the table which were more than enough for us all. Very simply done – grilled in olive oil and herbs etc but super super fresh. Delicious starters. All in all recommended but (admittedly with 3 bottles of wine and dessert) it was getting up towards £110 per head."

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Daniel M
Very extensive wine list, which the sommeli...
Reviewed 2 days ago

"Very extensive wine list, which the sommelier is more than keen to explain, and she provides a wine selection to go with each course on the tasting menu too. The quality and taste of the food is excellent, but the price does mean that this is an occasional treat for special occasions."

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Harden's says...

Harden's review of the reviews
hawksmoor manchesterJay Rayner weighs in on the north/south restaurant divide question

The Observer's critic-in-chief heads to Manchester to try out the new Hawksmoor and stumbles across a veggie dining room, 1847, serving great food – well, apart from the desserts. Read our roundup of restaurant news in Manchester and enter our Hawksmoor Manchester competition.



Meanwhile the Guardian's Marina O'Laughlin pays a visit to the much gushed about Kitty Fisher's

Everyone else love, love, loves it but Marina can't help but feel she's ended up at a house party she wasn't quite invited to, particularly as the restaurant staff seem allergic to answering the phone. We can attest to that having called them on at least 10 occasions without success.


The award for most ferocious review this week has to go to The Sunday Times's A A Gill

The critic has a thing or two to say about Mayfair's 'ridiculously overpriced' Mexican, Peyote, including: “...fiddly, neurotic preparation with pale, polite taste and silly, parsimonious sharing plates that aren’t bounteous or fun and are more like eating the catering pitch for a drug cartel’s wedding.”


Over at The Times, Giles Coren gives his opinion on Russian-imported pizza chain Bocconcino

“Bocconcino isn’t a bad restaurant. It just isn’t a necessary restaurant.” At £202 for pizza and pasta it's not hard to see why Mr Coren might feel that way – mind you, a £46 bottle of wine probably helped nudge the bill up.


And last but not least, Ms Maschler reviews Brindisa's new Morada Asador

The Standard's long-standing critic heads to the latest outpost of this tapas chain (in Soho) and finds the meats are the reason to flock here – from the 'delectable' milk-fed lamb to the Secreto Iberico.
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