Harden’s review of the reviews


It may be as massive as an ‘airship hangar’ but Bang Bang Oriental – an Asian food hall in Collindale – still offers some great eats, according to The Observer’s Jay Rayner

“Top tip: set up camp at a table as close to the middle of the room as possible, or you’ll end up walking huge distances.

“Steamed prawn dumplings and its siu mai have that compelling seafood bite. The cloud-like char siu buns are especially good, the heavily sauced stewed pork filling bouncy with citrus and soy. There are deep-fried fish wontons in spicy sauce to make you gasp and belch and dribble… Thai Silk’s… spiced ground pork, with enough fresh red chilli to put your diaphragm into spasm, is a highlight.”


Meanwhile The Guardian’s Marina O’Laughlin reviews Stark, a diminutive (12-cover) restaurant in Broadstairs with a prix-fixe menu which opened late last year. But there’s nothing small-time about what’s served…

“I’ve been to Stark three times, each time thinking, “I can’t write about this.” It’s ludicrously tiny, kitchen the size of a broom cupboard: could it cope with the attention? Ben Crittenden, in his Munchkin empire with its single, solitary fridge, is the real deal.

“There’s nothing at all small-time or provincial about what’s served: ingredients, composition, presentation are all evidence of someone who is used to working to the most exacting contemporary standards. Chicken liver parfait of preternatural silkiness and delicacy, and huge flavour… with pickled Kent cherries, dots of coffee and cherry puree, brioche and a shingle of hazelnut granola – sharp, sweet, aromatic, rich, luxurious… Poussin, crisp of skin and succulent of flesh with a Day-Glo swoop of pea and lettuce puree.”

“I find it hard to pick holes.”


Fay Maschler in the Evening Standard paid a visit to Ikoyi, a West-African-influenced restaurant which makes up part of the the extensive redevelopment of St James’s Market…

“Ikoyi has been at least two years in the making and the considerable amount of money obviously spent has been well spent. Dishes are based on British produce dressed and bejewelled by West African regalia.

“A perfect example not to be missed is the first course of Manx Loaghton rib & asun relish. Jollof rice, a dish common to most West African countries, is slick with chicken stock and barbecued onions but made opulent by the addition of smoked, salted bone marrow to stir in… there is a titillating undercurrent of unfamiliarity (for some of us anyway) filtered through a high end, sometimes Nordic skill set, coupled with a sense of celebration and inclusion fostered by amiable staff. Win-win for London. ”



At the Daily Mail Tom Parker Bowles heads to rural Wiltshire to a pleasant country pub in Crudwell, The Potting Shed, which has long been a hit with our reporters…

“The Potting Shed in Crudwell, with its stuffed stag’s head and stone floors, old wooden beams and endless canine prints, gets it right. Here is a simple, straightforward menu, stuffed full with things you actually wanted to eat… devilled kidneys on toast… are beautifully cooked and blissfully fresh, the sauce creamy with a sly kick.

“Chips are triple-cooked, but done properly, all burnished crunch and fluffy middle. The Potting Shed is one of the best pub lunches I’ve had for years. No fuss, or faffing, incongruous smears, extraneous additions or fancy-pants pretensions – just thoughtful, beautifully cooked pub food that you actually want to eat.”




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