Harden’s review of the reviews

Jay Rayner in The Observer reviewed Salt, a small but perfectly formed restaurant serving flavourful food with incredible attention to detail in Stratford upon Avon…

“Paul Foster is living other chefs’ fantasies. He has the thing they all want: the small but perfectly formed restaurant where he can be himself.

“A hobbit’s space, tucked into one of those black-beamed Tudor buildings that Stratford-upon-Avon must have bought wholesale… it begins with warm malted bread rolls, the glass-like crust glazed with malt and served with some of the cheesiest daffodil-yellow butter I have ever been served.

“There is attention to detail here, an ability to build flavours in layers… cod, seared to golden on top, is laid on a light, frothy, lawn-green parsley sauce blitzed through with oyster, so that one element of the dish appears to have leaked the essence of itself into the other.

“Some dishes are cooked to be admired. Others are to be eaten with vigour. This is both. In place of petits fours, we are served an immaculate, glazed choux pastry bun each, filled with cream sweetened by a syrup flavoured with Douglas fir pine… it melts away to nothing. It’s terrific.”

Fay Maschler in the Evening Standard, gives four stars to Dalston’s new-ish small plates and creative cocktails spot, Untitled…

“Should stop being such a shrinking violet. Tapas, aka small plates, are his form but the function here is Japanese… interesting evolved food… shiso-spiked pear topped with fronds of dried seaweed… stands out with its translucent flesh and an almost candied appearance elbowing the flavour towards sweetness.

“Boneless chicken wings with sweet kimchi deliver trademark irresistibility with none of the fiddle. Cured duck with liquorice teriyaki sauce toys with the taste buds… the two masterpiece assemblies are lamb brioche and aubergine with miso and hazelnuts… handsome solicitous service and notable value for original food.”

Grace Dent in the Evening Standard, finds great food at James Cochran N1, the setting however… not so great

“Lauded and heavily distinctive Scottish/Jamaican menu, in the Angel Central Shopping Centre, N1. On a Friday night, in spite of remarkably decent cooking at the original James Cochran EC3, the place was deserted… there’s great food happening here, such as the highly inhalable Jamaican jerk buttermilk chicken with sweet, devilish Scotch Bonnet jam.

“Cochran’s food rocks with both Kingston conviviality and a Glasgow end-of-the-night Munchy Box order. I could live for one week happily on endless plates of the cauliflower cheese and marmite croquettes. The mains are, well, flatbreads with toppings, starting at about £14, although the toppings are fancy. Haunch of Berkshire venison, for example, on a Douglas Fir flatbread with pear.

“Even after two glasses of Mapachi Cabernet Sauvignon, this still is a strange restaurant. Do the staff realise how strange it is?”


Michael Deacon in The Telegraph reviewed Core by Clare Smyth in Notting Hill and, amazingly, found that “the jellied eels weren’t revolting – a culinary miracle”.

Kathryn Flett in The Telegraph heads to Joe Allen at its new Covent Garden location and finds the DNA of the place unaltered…

“The Joe Allen burger became a 40-year in-joke; they remain “off-menu” today. Theatrical without ever being painfully “luvvie”, it’s been the go-to spot for a guaranteed good time for 40 years.

“The new Joe Allen looks entirely familiar while also being utterly different. All that’s good and fun about J A remains deep in the DNA of the place… comfortingly roof-of-the-mouth-clagging pecan pie… the 2017 version of Joe Allen is in fact the perfect place in which to escape 2017.”


Time Out gives four out of five stars to The Vincent in Hackney.

Tom Parker Bowles in The Daily Mail is the latest critic to hate Soho’s Flavour Bastard…

“This new Soho restaurant isn’t simply lumbered with a name that makes Sexy Fish seem like the very apotheosis of linguistic good taste. But it also tries too hard. Way, way too hard. Flavour Bastard just gets it wrong.

“It has the feel of something cooked up in the boardroom, a confected contrivance of cash flow, trend analysis and marketing plan. It’s all so damned tiring. The menu skips skittishly and breathlessly across the globe, desperate  to cover every last fad… some of the dishes, against all expectation, are great.  A sprightly, spicy mackerel and anchovy pâté, with a low growl of mustard, arrives in a sealed sardine-type tin, topped with a fat curl of crackling.

“Not everything works. A sloppy, over-sweet miso aubergine (a take on Japanese Nasu Dengaku) has no need for the peanut crumble. Too much going on, for no real culinary reason. A chocolate brownie mousse is fine, but ruined by over-assertive lavender ice cream, with the musty pong of a spinster’s knicker drawer.”

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