Harden’s review of the reviews

⦿ Jay Rayner of The Observer reviewed Louie Louie in Camberwell, a daytime cafe that becomes a restaurant in the evening under chef Oded Oren, originally from Tel Aviv, who is “an absolute corker”.

“Lamb sweetbreads come skewered and grilled over charcoal. There is a wedge of lemon to squeeze over them and a tidy pile of za’atar, that instantly recognisable mix of Middle Eastern herbs. It makes the whole dish smell and taste like a wander through a market place at the eastern end of the Mediterranean.”

“Ox cheek is a dark, deeply glazed thing of beauty, lying on whorls of hummus whipped and whipped again.”

“Panna cotta: the wobble is perfect, the flavouring on point. It is both light and indulgent. Quietly I declare myself in love.”

⦿ In the Guardian, Marina O’Loughlin reviewed Paco Tapas 8/10, the new Spanish joint from Sanchez Brothers adjacent to Casamia, their well-known Bristol restaurant.

“Food is perfectly Spanish, too, even if it often uses lush West Country produce. But it’s Spanish from perfectionists: the proletarian patatas bravas, for instance, are here elevated to aristocracy, the potatoes double-fried until hypnotically crisp, their chilli sauce sweet and ripe from good tomato, the allioli yellow with good egg yolks and pugnacious with garlic.”

“Calçots, those recherché Catalan alliums, come beautifully blackened from the grill with the best romesco I’ve ever tasted, crunchy with hazelnuts and almond and blazing with roast peppers.”

⦿ The Evening Standard’s Fay Maschler reviewed Cabotte 4/5 in the City, opened by two sommeliers, Xavier Rousset and Gearoid Devaney, with investment from a dozen Burgundy producers.

“For those who share the passion for roaming the hills and valleys west of the Saône glass in hand, the roughly 600-strong wine list is a map of rapture.”

“Classic French wines deserve a similar approach to the cooking. Fortunately, British chef Edward Boarland — who trained at The Waterside Inn in Bray and then worked with Clare Smyth at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road — provides it.”

“Grilled fillet of stone bass with a poached Maldon oyster perched on top served on sautéed slender leeks and lapped with a chive velouté and other languid herbs is beautifully executed and an ideal foil for the wine.”

⦿ Grace Dent of ES magazine reviewed Radio Alice  2/5 in Hoxton,“an earnest pioneer of the ‘Berberè’ pizza, a stone-ground flour base, pre-sliced into eight before reaching the table, with the toppings added afterwards. But why, I hear you ask?”

“We appreciate you coming from Bologna to teach us how to enjoy pizza, but this is a case where Italians don’t always ‘do it better’.

⦿ Keith Miller in The Telegraph 3.2.17 reviewed Palatino  4/5 in  Clerkenwell, the fifth outpost of chef Stevie Parle’s empire, a “sure-footed and suave” restaurant that draws on the traditions of Rome.

“It’s not exactly clean eating: there’s lots of deep frying and salty cheese, and the only vegetable you’re likely to see is cicoria, bitter greens, dressed in oil and vinegar, and violently stewed.”

“An old-school trattoria staple, saltimbocca alla ­romana, was a world away from the floury sauces and shoelike meat with which we’ve all been confronted, even in Italy. The veal, ham and sage were ‘stitched’ together with a stripped twig of rosemary, whose resinous flavour worked perfectly with the sweet meat and a simple marsala reduction.”

⦿ His Telegraph colleague Micheal Deacon reviewed Frank’s 4/5 in West Malling, Kent, an old-fashioned seafood specialist that serves generous helpings of “top grub“.

“My main was great: the mussels juicy, the sauce hearty, the chunks of bacon succulent and fat. My fingers glistened piggily.”

“Toffee and ice-cream waffle was stupendous. An obscenely sweet wodge of heart-stopping, artery-clogging wickedness.”

⦿ In the Mail on Sunday, Tom Parker Bowles visited the Roxy New Asian Tandoori Centre in Southall, for a lunch of “well-priced, good quality Punjabi tucker in an upmarket local canteen”.

“Lamb chops arrive sizzling, blackened and clad in a heady spice bazaar of paste. The meat bleats with adolescent vigour, while the charred nubs of burnt fat induce indecent delight. Curries are equally blunt, hearty and straightforward, the madras mighty with tomato, chilli and softly fatty lamb. Fiery fuel for a race of ancient warriors. And eaters too.” 

⦿ In the Financial Times, Nick Lander noted that Clerkenwell was a predominantly Italian area in the first half of the 20th century, and two British chefs have led a renaissance of Italian food in the area: Isaac McHale with Luca, “the more sophisticated“, and Stevie Parle with Palatino, “the more casual”.

Both were well received, although at Luca, “Everything was too precise, and much more conventional than The Clove Club’s inventive menu. Nothing at all seemed spontaneous, an attribute I look for in Italian cooking.”

⦿ In The Sunday Times, Lisa Markwell visited James Cochran EC3 4/5, a former pop-up in Aldgate from an ex-Ledbury chef now cooking “some of the country’s best food”. 

“We share snacks of scotch egg, a salsify fritter and Cochran’s signature Jamaica jerk buttermilk chicken. It’s all deep-fried, but there’s a wealth of nuance in the dishes. The smoky, peppery, soft ‘nduja sausage clings to the delicate egg in a farmyard embrace; the salsify still has its lightly briny flavour against earthy, truffly cream.. but, oh, that chicken.”

“Since my visit, he’s introduced a five-course tasting menu that includes the chicken, salmon and lamb, priced at £35. You’d be mad not to.”

⦿ Giles Coren of The Times visited Pop Brixton, a “higgledy-piggledy collection of shipping containers“, where he ate at three outlets.

At Koi he had an “outstanding” ramen: a superbly rich and creamy, mouth-coating pork bone brother, really good egg noodles, a fresh soft egg and slicies of pork belly… for £6″.

A fried chicken “Buffalo” at the Other Side was “not subtle, pretty sloppy, but tasty as dang”.

Modern Cantonese canteen Duck Duck Goose specialises in roast meats which “I’ll be honest, were not life changing”. But Coren was in a generous mood: “This is early, they are new. I like them and I like their attitude.”

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