Review of the reviews: Tom Parker Bowles and Michael Deacon visit Sabor

Jay Rayner in The Observer is rather far afield this week as he reviews Zuni Cafe, San Francisco…

The Zuni roast chicken is certainly a thing… featured on myriad lists of greatest restaurant dishes

Is it… Sensational? Not quite, but it is very, very good.

…faux peasant, faux rustic fantasy. Zuni has long been regarded as a standard bearer for a refined Californian-Italian style of cookery… not merely a list of dishes. It’s a way of life… bread salad, full of crisped croutons dressed first in the molten chicken fat and then a fine vinaigrette.

…perfect, unviolated caesar salad, possibly the best version I’ve ever eaten. What’s striking is that a restaurant that has been around for decades is still doing the thing… a remarkable achievement.

 

Grace Dent in The Guardian checks out the new incarnation of Robin Gill’s The Manor in Clapham, Amalfi Coast-inspired spot Sorella…

The Amalfi coast down a Clapham backstreet… it’s a limited audience who will return to places like The Manor time after time, but folk will always want pasta.

This is now a neighbourhood joint where families sit and honk with laughter. The menu is small but mighty.

Unfussy, but at the same time fabulous. The cep gnocchi with wild mushrooms is outstanding… wanton carb action.

The only thing they found to complain about was that there was too much venison. There, readers, is the very definition of a good lunch… [dolci are] naughty nursery food for badly behaved long lunchers.

 

David Sexton in The Evening Standard reviewed Feast, the new food court at Kings Mall in Hammersmith…

[Chats about the recent rise of the chain restaurants – what could possibly go wrong? “Over-saturation, lack of originality, failure to maintain quality, cost-cutting to maximise returns — and recent rises in food and staff costs, rents and rates, while consumers have ever less to spend. That’ll do it.”]

Jamie’s Italian, Byron and Prezzo are among the chains scrambling to close branches and “re-structure”.

…five self-service eateries, all on trend, almost a foodie fashion hound’s dream team (Patty & Bun, Salvation in Noodles, Made of Dough, Breddos, Sinchow).

All were impressive, all striking: splatter-gun eating. You have to eat this kind of food with your fingers. It’s what people graduate to from KFC… this is a way of getting fresh restaurants into big, corporate spaces.

 

Michael Deacon in The Telegraph tries the quail at ex-Barrafina chef  Nieves Barragan Mohacho’s new solo venture Sabor in Mayfair…

“The quail was, essentially, a middle-class version of KFC.”

[another comparison to KFC – are they comparing notes?]

 

 

 

Kathryn Flett in The Telegraph isn’t as wild about new City-fringe bistro Nuala as previous critics have been…

…in a new-build block on a corner adjacent to Old Street – aka “Silicon” – Roundabout.

I’m broadly OK about – without being thrilled by – the (smallish) menu, Anglo-Irish with a wood-smoked twist.

…juxtapositions should have been exciting, instead they seemed acutely tricksy, the textures wilfully unpleasant… steak proves OK but far from special. Desserts disappoint, too.

…so much potential talent, genuine warmth and goodwill in a fine-looking room.

 

Tom Parker Bowles in The Daily Mail also reviewed Sabor

How do you top Barrafina?

…the room has an entirely different feel [from Barrafina]. Larger, softer, somehow warmer, with exposed bricks and bright Moorish tiles.

The menu, too, is markedly different… as ever with Nieves, there’s a deftness of touch… as ever, [we] don’t have the space for pudding.

So is it better than Barrafina? It’s different, like Cervantes and Lorca… compatriots rather than competitors. This town is definitely big enough for them both.

 

And Tim Hayward in The Financial Times is underwhelmed by the long-anticipated restaurant from Leandro Carreira Londrino

I see the point… I get the very Japanese aesthetic. I am entirely following this — intellectually, visually, philosophically. Reducing the extraneous, cutting back fearlessly, balancing the razor edge between being and nothingness are laudable skills for the fine artist — but this is food. For the love of God, where’s the “deliciousness”?

 

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