Harden’s review of the reviews

sackville'sIf the hipster-driven dude food revolution was prompted by the 2008 recession then, according to Giles Coren at The Times, the arrival of Sackville’s in Mayfair (an opulently expensive ode to beef and truffles) is a sure sign the hard times are well and truly over…

“There would be exposed brick, bespoke cocktails and an eating bar, we were promised, just like you’d expect to find in Dalston, but with the reassuring presence on the menu of £70 steaks and £38 burgers. With everyone now firmly back in the black, especially in Mayfair, Sackville’s would incorporate all that restaurants had learnt since 2008 but without the embarrassment of an affordable bill.”

 

The Observer’s Jay Rayner heads to the much trendier environs of Bethnal Green’s railway arches to look in on the latest effort of foodies’ darling Robin Gill (The Dairy, Clapham). And the critic is effusive in his praise of the paradoxically named Paradise Garage…

“The detail which catches my attention lies at the very bottom of the first gnarly Asiatic porcelain bowl delivered to our table at Paradise Garage in London’s Bethnal Green. It is a slick of lemon gel beneath an airy pillow of sweet pea mousse, served with halved radishes and some thick poppadom-like crackers, to get you started as you scan the menu. The unexpected hit of citrus makes me look up from the automatic process of dip and nibble and dip. Without it, the mousse would have been a fine thing: an agreeable and earthy way for chef Simon Woodrow to declare intent. But with it the whole bowl flashes and sparkles. Just as the palate risks being dulled by sugars, so it comes alive. It makes me think somebody somewhere likes me; it is the smart touch of a kitchen that’s happy to let details accumulate.”

And that’s just his opening paragraph!

 

Meanwhile his colleague Marina O’Laughlin at the Guardian gives new meaning to the phrase ‘tepid review’ with quite possibly the most luke-warm appraisal of a restaurant’s food, service and ambience we have ever read. We’d be rather surprised if Bayswater bistro Salt & Honey’s waiter “blessed with a powerful miasma of fags” kept his scalp after this assessment…

“And salmon “cured in lemongrass and Manuka honey” must have swum upstream from these aromatics: it’s so pedestrian, it should come on black-and-white-striped plates. All three dishes are topped with the same microherbs and mandolined radishes, an admirably pragmatic, that’ll-do approach to garnishing.”

 

The Evening Standard’s Grace Dent heads to Lurra in Marylebone (sister restaurant to Donostia) and finds the same level of exemplary Basque cooking that its sibling has long been known for. Her only complaint? That her Uber rating has taken a battering thanks to the gargantuan amount of garlic she ingested…

“Delights include whole grilled turbot, Galician Rubia Gallega steak, kokotxas (cod tongues) and ceps with egg yolk and grilled red peppers. It’s peculiar, with all this going on, that one of the things I recall strongly from my night at Lurra was the bowl of excellent crisp paprika-titivated almonds and another full of the plumpest, sweetest green olives I’ve ever seen in London.”

 

Fay Maschler’s enjoyment of her trip to Wright Brother’s new South Ken outpost is tempered somewhat by the prices. However her review for the Evening Standard finds no fault with the food…

“From the blackboard of daily specials we try grilled Cornish sardines with lemon and garlic and also white anchovies with vinegar, shallot and parsley. The sardines, jolly fat fellas, are carefully cooked and finished but at £9 for three the feeling is, what with the owners also being the suppliers, the pricing is a bit of mickey-taking. Six anchovy fillets, aka boquerones, of the sort that often come packed in large plastic tubs at £6.50 reinforce that sensation. Bread and carefully portion-controlled butter is a side dish at £2.”

 

AA Gill must be off on something of an extended summer sabbatical, we’ve not seen a restaurant review from him for some weeks now. Instead his Sunday Times Table Talk column was this week filled by Tanya Gold who was the only mainstream critic to venture outside of London. She reviews Hardeep Singh Kohli’s pub-cum-curry-house, on the former site of The Vintage in Leith…

“The menu is Glaswegian-Indian, a cuisine I am not familiar with. (Singh Kohli grew up in Glasgow.) It puns too, which makes me wonder if the curried cauliflower cheese could perform a five-minute bulletproof set, while spiced rhubarb crumble could theoretically outwit Paul Merton on Have I Got News for You. I think it could. I would like all panel shows to guest-feature sarcastic and self-loathing set meals that weep in the Green Room.”

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