Harden’s review of the reviews

⦿ The Observer’s Jay Rayner reviewed the Bull & Ram in Ballynahinch, Co. Down, which opened in a Grade 1-listed former butcher’s shop in June and excels in “tear-inducingly bloody lovely” cuts of Northern Irish short horn beef.

“They know what they’re doing here. And what they’re doing is an utter joy. 

“The beef and the pork are cuts that once were on nodding terms with a bone… that perfect mix of fibrous meat and jellied fat and a glorious dark stickiness.”

⦿ In the Guardian, Marina O’Loughlin had a rather less enjoyable meal at Bronte 5/10, in the Strand, where she found “the menu globetrots with … giddy abandon… It doesn’t know whether it’s in Bangkok or Beirut, nor does it much care.”

“Bronte, named because you can see Nelson, aka the Duke of Bronte, from the outdoor terrace, will appeal to design-conscious restaurant-goers for whom food isn’t the primary consideration.”

⦿ Fay Maschler of The Evening Standard 28.9.16 reviewed Jikoni 3/5 in Marylebone, “a homely riot of patterned fabrics, embroidered silk cushions, colourful lamps and paisley tablecloths” launched by TV cook Ravinder Bhogal.

“Best of the small plates is a close-run thing between corn on the cob cut into chunks mired in a funky peanut sauce and crispy soft-shell crab, delicate, friable and clean-tasting served with Hyderabadi relish.”

⦿ For ES magazine, Grace Dent headed to Snaresbrook in northeast London to eat at Bombetta 3/5, a Pugliese trattoria which is “how neighbourhood restaurants should be”.     

“This isn’t fine dining and this certainly is Snaresbrook but Bombetta, to my mind, is ever so slightly ‘the bomb’.”

⦿ Michael Deacon of the Telegraph reviewed the Baltic-inspired Two Cats Kitchen 4/5 in Birmingham, which he found “an imaginative, welcoming restaurant that offers something a bit different.”

“I ordered the tasting menu, which began with a complex concoction listed as quail egg, chicken-liver pâté, black trumpet powder and lumpfish roe… It basically tasted like an egg yolk lodged in a nest of crisps. Weird, but I liked it.”

⦿ Also in the Telegraph, Kathryn Flett reviewed Isaac@ 3/5 in Brighton, where she found much to be irritated by in the presentation.

“Nonetheless, I commend Isaac’s for its cooking – mostly confident, assured and, unlike every other aspect of The Dining Concept, unfussy or silly.”

⦿ Emma Henderson of The Independent reviewed The Rum Kitchen, which has been “gloriously renewed” in its original Notting Hill location.

“Aside from the best – and only – Caribbean pizza I’ve had, more classic dishes include plantain with chilli jam and jerk wings. “

⦿ In The Sunday Times, Kate Spicer reviewed The Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds, which she found “stunning in parts, misjudged and irritating in others”.

A bao bun filled with sticky veal sweetbreads was one of the stunners: “Those two little mouthfuls were like being in a flavour elevator dropping through umami, heat and salt, then back up to the joy of umami again. This was XO-rated fun.

⦿ Giles Coren of The Times described the “full English” breakfast he eats when staying in Premier Inns around the country while making TV programmes. “And you know what? I love it.”

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