Harden’s review of the reviews

Image4_HantverkFound_Clams⦿ The Observer’s Jay Rayner, perhaps enjoying an August Bank Holiday at the seaside, moseyed happily into Hantverk & Found in Margate, “a tiny cupboard of a fish restaurant, half tiled in the sea green of a Victorian public convenience”.

“There are 10 seats up front, plus a few in the garden, and a couple of people in the kitchen knocking out idiosyncratic fish dishes, most of which hit the mark. Hantverk is Swedish for homemade. ‘Found’, I’m told, references the taking of fish from the waters… The dish of the meal [was] a salad of cool, slippery black rice noodles, piled with crab and chilli.”

⦿ The Guardian’s Marina O’Laughlin was a few miles further down the Kent coast at the Frog and Scot in Deal, where “Benoit Dezecot and his partner Sarah Ross – the eponymous Frog and Scot – have taken over a former florist’s and caff, and turned it into the platonic ideal of neighbourhood bistro”.

“You can tell a lot about a place by the quality of the basics: anywhere that rejects the easy option of catering-pack chips deserves all the brownie points, and Frog and Scot’s, served with a fine sirloin steak over which a pat of reeking garlic butter slowly creeps, are belters, double-cooked until almost nutty, all crisp and fluffy and lustworthy”.

⦿ The Sunday Times’s AA Gill stayed behind in London to sample Clipstone in Fitzrovia, the recently opened sibling of nearby Portland (hailed as “novel” and “exciting” by the Harden’s Survey), and was mightily impressed by “the most compelling menu I’ve seen for a long time”.

“Clipstone has calves’ brain meunière on toast – creamy, sweet and savoury, salacious, with the softest slippery veil of brown butter, parsley and lemon. Just that alone is a five-star reason for going to this new restaurant… It’s grown-up, relaxed and as sophisticated as any dinner in the country.”

⦿ The Evening Standard’s Fay Maschler headed to Blanchette East 4/5, second branch of the Soho Blanchette (a “delightful gem” according to the Harden’s Survey). The new bistro, in Brick Lane, “directs the French menu southwards, encompassing some of the herbs, spices and recipes of the Maghreb”.

She followed up with a visit to Yosma 3/5, a new Turkish joint in Mayfair, where she enjoyed lamb (“obviously”) and deep-fried calamari coated in chickpea flour. But “the best is kept ‘til last. The dessert of kunefe, made from kadayif pastry – often compared with shredded wheat – filled with melted cheese, doused in lemon syrup and with a furrow of chopped pistachios on top is sensational.”

⦿ ES Magazine’s Grace Dent found “the best chicken karaage in London” at the prolific Jason Atherton’s Japanese venue, Sosharu 4/5, although she was equivocal in her final judgement: “Like many of Atherton’s restaurants, I left quietly impressed by his chutzpah, feeling somehow that this place wasn’t really for my sort of person, but if someone else was paying, I’d swing by again next Friday.”

At Sardine 4/5, between Angel and Old Street tube stations, Dent was impressed by the “relaxed southern European home-style cooking” presented by chef Alex Jackson and his mentor, Stevie Parle.

“Sardine is not lying, this really is food that a stalwart, capable European grandmother would chuck down, rather than fiddly, try-hard bells, smells and whistles. All bistros are not made equally. Sardine is delightfully different.”

⦿ Over at the Telegraph, Michael Deacon had an indecently good time at Texas Joe’s Slow Smoked Meats in London SE1 4/5, where he consumed “deliciously trashy” barbecue from Joe Walters, “who really is from Texas”.

“It’s not only fun but practical – especially if you’re young. You have a good time, stuff yourself till you burst, and you don’t need to worry about saving for a pension any more, because if you eat here every day I wouldn’t count on seeing 65.”

⦿ His colleague Keith Miller penned an altogether more civilised tribute to Carters of Moseley in Birmingham, 4/5, where he found “love and expertise aplenty, and a quiet intelligence in the balance of ingredients and technique”.



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