Harden’s review of the reviews

Jay Rayner in The Observer reviewed Manchester’s German-themed restaurant Albert’s Schloss where the “waiters aren’t wearing lederhosen and slapping each other’s thighs manfully, but they might as well be”…

“If you didn’t pay proper attention, you might dismiss Albert’s Schloss as Dante’s third circle of hell, only with less glamour. The music is so loud it could dislodge a filling… boy do they lay on the Germanic schtick. The waiters aren’t wearing lederhosen and slapping each other’s thighs manfully, but they might as well be.

“Albert’s Schloss is brilliant, and it’s not just the booze, or the blistering music from the Sunday Best Jazz quintet, or the 9ft 7in drag queen impersonating Joan Crawford. Although obviously all of those things helped. They could have called up some dismal food service company, signed a contract based on massive volume and opened the delivery doors. The kitchen could have been nothing but the ping of microwaves and the fizz of the deep fat fryer. Instead they’ve gone for it… the menu is eclectic: a confit duck leg here, a bit of hummus there… knock-offs of cronuts – they’ve put a K on it – which are better than anything I’ve tried from Dominique Ansel.

“Croquettes are made with ham and cheese… crispy shelled, golden and pouting gusts of hot cheesy, piggy air at you as you bite in… the best Schweinshaxe I’ve had since the one with which I comforted myself in Munich 25 years ago, after having lunch with a neo-Nazi… a long-roasted pork knuckle, with enough meat on it to serve two of me or three of you. It’s a monumental plateful.

“A skin-on fillet of pearly hake gives its all to a heap of Provençal lentils. It’s food to get you through a siege, in a good way. Better, by which I mean it could stand comparison with anything coming out of Britain’s grandest kitchens, is their burnt Alaska. It is served at a perfect temperature so your spoon doesn’t hit a boulder when you get through the gorgeously singed meringue. Inside is soft raspberry sorbet, at the bottom a crisp base. Bravo. I really should hate it. I should want to be anywhere but here. But I don’t. Albert’s Schloss is a class act.”

 

Kathryn Flett in The Telegraph gives an impressive four stars to Llewelyns, a welcome newcomer for Herne Hill, an under-served area for dining out…

“[In January] I ­prefer to shuffle off to a Great Local Restaurant – the kind of near-mythological venue that welcomes you and your slippers with open arms and an uncorked bottle of something suitably soothing for under thirty quid… at Llewelyn’s in Herne Hill, London SE24 – at the end of a road that I happen to know houses at least two national newspaper restaurant critics… blow me down …walking past the ­window … the esteemed writer and broadcaster Jay Rayner, who then enters the restaurant blowing air-kisses – not to mention what passes for my cover.

“Llewelyn’s is double-fronted and airy, all blonde wood and white walls and, on our visit, clearly a destination of choice for the daytime buggy-wielding brigade… deep-fried squid and aioli delivered the three necessities – springy squid, crunchy batter and a garlic sucker-punch – entirely successfully… tender and delightfully gamy braised rabbit with bacon, pumpkin mash and salmoriglio made for at least one very happy bunny… each successive course ­improved on its predecessor – which happens rarely” ” I practically vacuumed up a sublime rice pudding with crab apple jelly… one of the most pleasing quasi-suburban lunches I can recall. In short, it was the perfect pick-me-up, carry-me-home and leave-me-on-the-sofa-until-February.”

 

Tom Parker Bowles in The Daily Mail heads to The Old Butchers in Stow-on-the-Wold, Peter & Louise Robinson’s Cotswolds restaurant which espouses the nose-to-tail ethos…

“The room is small, comfortable and unpretentious, the whole place infused with a mildly chaotic, genially higgledy-piggledy charm… this is a restaurant where pleasure comes before prissy interior design, and the only commerce that really seems to matter is the serious business of eating.

“With a broadly European menu, lusty with seafood and steak, there is just the occasional jaunt across to Japan (tempura oysters) or the USA (crab roll)… smoked haddock and Parmesan omelette… as serious, rich and smoky as an Edwardian gent, lavished with great chunks of fish, and a centre that oozes with unapologetic delight… raclette… [a] puddle of slightly browned, melted cheese is attended by tiny potatoes, pert cornichons and slivers of air-dried ham. Just as it should be.

“Ox cheek bourguignon of pure bovine brilliance… The sauce is deep and dark and glossy, furiously reduced and gloriously sticky… testament to a kitchen that is capable of producing the most diaphanous of fritto mistos. The service, as you’d expect, is lovely. The Old Butchers is too good to keep to myself. It’s one of those rare local restaurants that combines charm, comfort, value and damned good cooking too. Plus, the bill arrives with a handful of pink foam prawns.”

 

Tim Hayward in The Financial Times reviewed Covent Garden newcomer Parsons, from the folks behind The 10 Cases…

“Parsons, London: a very English fish restaurant. I surrendered to a brilliant confection that made me want to storm the kitchen and snog the beard off the pastry chef.”

 

 

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