Harden’s review of the reviews

⦿ Jay Rayner of The Observer reviewed Veneta, just off Piccadilly, which, while “not an actively bad restaurant”, brought his culinary year to a disappointing end.

“I long ago stopped taking notes in restaurants, figuring that if I couldn’t recall what I’d had for dinner that spoke volumes. With this one I had to dig out the receipt.”

⦿ The Guardian’s Marina O’Laughlin reviewed My Neighbours The Dumplings 7/10, a new-wave dumpling house in Hackney, all “scuffed but darkly glamorous decor, lightboxes and lanterns, youth and enthusiasm, cool soundtrack and ethically sourced meat and fish”.

“Their hand-crafted dumplings are beautiful enough to frame: classic har gau with a delicate, tensile wrapper, the prawns inside sweetly fresh, almost crunchy. Siu mai wrapped in egg-yolk-yellow skin, elastic and al dente, their pork-and-prawn stuffing distinctly less bouncy than the Chinatown standard and fragrant with ginger, with jewels of keta on top popping with salinity. Potstickers are stuffed with lamb Mongolian-style, or woodsy mushroom and courgette. All are perfectly peachy.”

⦿ Fay Maschler of The Evening Standard reviewed James Cochran EC3 4/5, a pop-up-gone-permanent on the edge of the City from an alumnus of the Ledbury and Harewood Arms.

She was mightily impressed by “the best fried chicken â€” better even than at Chick’n’Sours, while “Herdwick lamb neck and haunch … is a masterly dish” and “playfulness breaks out unbounded in desserts such as Snickerbocker Glory”.

⦿ Grace Dent of ES magazine joined the chorus of critical approval for Temper 8/10, Neil Rankin’s smoked and roasted meat joint in Soho, where she found it  “easy to linger and over-eat”.

She also managed to find a non-meat angle to praise: “I’m calling the deep-dish brigadeiro soft-centre cookie as one of the destination puddings of 2016.”

⦿ In the Sunday Times, Lisa Markwell reviewed Luca 3/5, the barnstorming Clove Club’s Italian-inspired offshoot in Clerkenwell, where she much preferred the simpler dishes.

“I wish they’d had the balls to make it just pasta and snacks, and to leave the culinary artistry down the road in Shoreditch. It’s the carbs that bewitch – and the delicious little nubbins and nuggets you get to eat in the bar.” 

⦿ Giles Coren of The Times shared the secret of his “favourite restaurant in the world“, Singapore Garden 10/10 in Swiss Cottage, where he has eaten more than 1,000 times, including every Sunday night from 1993 to 2005.

Here he was introduced to “the finest single dish in all of world cookery, perhaps the greatest achievement of mankind itself: Singapore laksa.”

Then, last week, Coren visited Singapore itself for the first time, and at 328 Katong Laksa tasted a laksa that was “something perhaps even more special: an added savouriness, a whiff of jungle, an edge to the soup that is not there in suburban northwest London.” 

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