Harden’s review of the reviews

 â¦¿ The Observer’s Jay Rayner reviewed Jihwaja, “a hilariously brilliant new Korean place in London’s Vauxhall” where “I felt like I had been glazed inside and out by their sweet-salty chilli sauce.”

“Fried chicken is completely outrageous: crisp in a way that echoes through your jaw and muffles chatters, salty and sweet and fiery. Seaweed rice balls, laced with the iodine-rich tang of the shore, are utterly compelling.”

“Like so much of Korean culture it is an expression of modernity. A visit to Jihwaja is dinner deep in the 21st century.”

⦿ In the Guardian, Marina O’Laughlin reviewed Luca 7/10, the Clerkenwell stablemate of the Clove Club, which serves Italian dishes using British ingredients.

“It’s an exciting, mongrel marriage: spaghettini with Morecambe Bay shrimp and mace butter. There’s real technical skill, too: thrashing out plateful after plateful of the most delicate pasta without it seizing up into clammy clumps is no mean feat. “

“Parmesan fries are the exquisite love child of a churro and a croqueta, lurid with cheese; I’d like a family bucket. It’s not perfect – yet. The kitchen needs more of the sybaritism of the best Italian cooking and less of the British hairshirt.”

⦿ Fay Maschler of The Evening Standard reviewed Jamavar 4/5, a smart new Indian in Mayfair, where “we are almost deliriously happy with our small plates.”

“Highlights include crispy guinea fowl malligai, which I think is a kind of jasmine — but whatever it is it performs wonders with what is often a dispiriting bird, rendering the pieces witty, sexy and unputdownable; ghar ki bhindi, a home-style dish of okra insisted on by our charming waiter; long and slow-cooked Jamavar dal based on black lentils; and dum nalli biryani based on lamb, this one from Hampshire.” 

⦿ In the Daily Telegraph, Michael Deacon was charmed by the London Shell Company 5/5, a floating no-choice fish restaurant on a barge that sets off from Little Venice, near Paddington Station in London.

“It’s rare that I get such a tingle of boyish excitement”. 

“An acidly sharp pickled herring was followed by a dreamy whipped goat’s curd, just meltingly delicious, with beetroot, sorrel and hazelnuts. Next we ate a cod fillet, velvet-smooth and soft as hot butter, served with braised cannellini beans, smoked pork and cavolo nero. Finally, pudding: a warm, comforting wodge of apple and pear crumble with Pomona cream.”

⦿ Tom Parker Bowles of the Mail on Sunday reviewed Sardine 4/5 in Hoxton, “which basks in the ever-romantic sunshine of Southern French cooking, over a wood fire”.

“Lamb, cooked à la ficelle, meaning strung up and bound like a naughty judge in a suburban dungeon, then suspended over the embers so the fat melts and the juices flow. The lamb is pink, silken and bleating, served in great slices on a huge plate with garlicky white beans and more garlic still in a verdant, herby flecked green sauce that is both pure and punchy. Anchovies add their saline, subtle depth. Now we’re talking. I would come to Sardine to eat this dish alone, an ovine masterpiece, a siren song of southern summer. In the depths of east London winter.”

⦿ Tim Hayward of The Financial Times reviewed Aquavit, the St James’s branch of a Swedish restaurant in New York, where he found its take on Nordic cuisine “less than thrilling”.

“Some of the food is great — the langoustine broth, the wacky dessert – but much of it feels like Scandi food imagineered by Disney. The polarising flavours, the acid sting, the earthy integrity of the forest floor, have been polished, corners filed down, in pursuit of brand-wide consistency.”

⦿ In the Sunday Times, David Mills also visited Acquavit 4/5, finding the design “all very smart and clean, watered-down art deco with a splash of classicism – think polite fascism meets provincial airport in 1932″.

Turbot, served with confident simplicity with brown butter and a heap of shredded horseradish, was faultless. Veal cheek with dill and salt-baked onions was so shreddingly tender, you could have eaten it with a spoon.”

⦿ Giles Coren of The Times reviewed the George & Dragon 6/10 at Rowde, near Devizes in Wiltshire, “famous locally for an extensive and very imaginative fish menu (seafood delivered daily from St Mawes in Cornwall)”.

The potted crab was warm, spicy and wonderful, the whitebeait fresh and crispy and the avocado with crayfish perfectly spot-on.”

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