Harden’s review of the reviews

Marina O’Loughlin in The Guardian reviews Pascere, a new Lanes restaurant from the food and drink editor of Platinum Business magazine, Amanda Menahem.

“Brighton is having a bit of a moment restaurant-wise; like Bristol, another beneficiary of the financial pain of attempting to launch any kind of indie in the capital.

“The most exquisite thing that we eat… is the simplest: a tiny crab tartlet with pastry so fragile, you wonder at its capacity to support its quantities of dewy, sweet white Portland crab meat and flourish of airy hollandaise, bisque-rich with the swansong of various crustacea and crabby bits and pieces. This is no-messing brilliance.

“Beef cheek tortellini taste like that moment when summer meets autumn… the potentially jarring, tiny, violet-coloured elderflower meringues aren’t nearly as silly as I expect them to be, adding wit and texture… an Elle Deco-worthy mustard-and-teal jewel of a restaurant; unusually, upstairs, with its open kitchen and bay windows jutting out over the street, is even prettier.

“Sure, there are small niggles… But it’s an impressive meal, peppered with little generosities. Pascere will still stand out… combination of artistry with an underlying understanding of what people want to eat, as opposed to what the chef wants to inflict on us.

“This is destination stuff. The idea of the classic Brighton dirty weekend just got proper tasty again.”

Meanwhile The Observer’s Jay Rayner heads to the UK’s current Capital of Culture, Hull, to sample The Old House…

“Hull may be the City of Culture, a place of fine maritime history and Larkin’s rhythmic misanthropy, but it isn’t quite the city of food culture right now. It reads like a hotel menu, and those are exceptionally hard to pull off. In truth, Harrison doesn’t quite manage it. But there are flashes of brilliance, and things that could be really good with a little work.

“A terrific sausage roll… all flaky pastry, ripe pigginess and the sweet, dark tones of caramelised onion… he serves it stone cold and deathly. It’s a promise unrealised; a disappointment in a heavy pastry overcoat… nothing will improve his slabs of long-braised then barbecued pork belly with a crisp fennel slaw, a crunchy salsa made with watermelon, a glug of sweet, sticky sauce, all laid across warm, fluffy flat bread.

“It’s… rather civilised in here, in this low-ceilinged pub, with the guttering of candles, even on a summer’s lunchtime. I am very much taken by their whitebait, soft-bellied and crisp backed, with a Bloody Mary mayonnaise and a sprinkling of something called vinegar powder to remind you that you are at the seaside.”

“Strip down the menu, pay attention to detail, focus on the things you’re really good at, and the Old House could be something special.”

Fay Maschler finds her way to the recently opened Jean-Georges at the Connaught, brought to us by French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (formerly of Vong at The Berkeley)…

“Crispy salmon sushi with chipotle emulsion and soy glaze… given its description, the sushi is decidedly low-impact.

“£29 black truffle and fontina pizza that can also be ordered as takeaway in a box designed by Jean Jullien… parmesan-crusted chicken and roasted John Dory, £26 and £28 respectively…convey a tenuous relationship with the verve and innovation associated with J-G.

“Fish and chips with petits pois remoulade, where small pieces of fish in huge puffa jackets of batter destabilise the traditional concept… peach candy floss, a confection of fresh and roasted peach, its gleaming orange eye peeping out from a nest of spun sugar. It has a wow factor with an assemblage of flattering flavours — redcurrant, ginger and almond.”

Over at ES Magazine Grace Dent reviews Covent Garden’s latest Spanish restaurant and wine bar Sibarita…

“A secret, blissful Covent Garden bolthole for the civilised… great, warm-hearted, gorgeously priced, delicious little restaurant just off the main hubbub of Covent Garden.

“Spinach croquetas… doctored creamed spinach and smooth béchamel that will make you purr. Well they made my toes curl joyously anyhow.

“A baked, runny Torta del Casar sheep’s cheese arrives with radish and carrot on tiny, playful medieval spikes. Sibarita positions itself as a place for wine, cheese and charcuterie, which is a vast understatement, as everything off piste from that is very good too.”

“I popped in at 7 pm to meet a friend for a quick bite and a glass of Cillar de Silos 2014 and was somehow still there at 10.15 pm


Michael Deacon in The Telegraph delivers his verdict on Simpsons-in-the-Strand: “Essentially a very expensive school dinner”


Also in the Telegraph this week Keith Miller reviews Kohinoor of Kerala in Southampton…

“The name is a tribute to a much-loved local institution, with a twist of regional authenticity.

“It’s an almost movingly nondescript dining room, with plush seating and a swirly Kelly Hoppen‑approved “accent”, at once a tribute to and a critique of the flock wallpapers  traditionally associated with this sector, on the back wall… the place was jumping.

“The southern dishes we ordered had a luminous clarity and lightness of touch. Smoky curry leaves, acrid black mustard seeds, fruity chilli, sweet coconut, a suggestion of fermentation here and there.

“The highlight was a simple dish, but somehow a perfect one: a masala dosa the size of a cricket bat; the long, rolled pancake crisp and sour; the potato curry inside fluffy and aromatic; the coconut chutney on the side delicate and sharp.”

And The Financial Times reviewed another Covent Garden newcomer The Oystermen…

“London’s finest hangover cure! My crab wasn’t “dressed” like it might have been in some seaside shack, it was seduced to the point that it willingly disrobed.”

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