Harden’s review of the reviews

⦿ Jay Rayner of The Observer sweated his way joyfully through a chilli-spiced dinner at Thai pop-up-turned-permanent Som Saa near Spitalfields Market, which he described as “an action movie full of crash, bang and wallop.”

“The food wanders restlessly from north to south. It is a deliriously fearsome bash of fire and sour and salt and smoke.”

⦿ The Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin praised Sardine 8/10 for the deceptive simplicity of its southern French cuisine, typified by a stunning stuffed tomato.

“How can something so mundane taste so magical? Turns out that, far from mundane, it’s outlandishly complex: veal and pork spiked with chicken liver, bacon, ricotta, parmesan, chervil, fennel seeds, thyme, black pepper and breadcrumbs soaked in milk, all cooked with white wine, butter, tarragon and cream. As my beloved Dolly Parton almost said, it takes a lot of work to look this simple.”

⦿ Fay Maschler of the Evening Standard reviewed Sagardi 3/5, the first UK branch of a Spanish chain offering Basque cooking, where she found “some interesting ideas for when the weather is chilly, such as braised suckling lamb trotters, stewed tripe with chorizo and oxtail stewed in Rioja”

⦿ Grace Dent of ES Magazine visited Farmacy 3/5, a vegan restaurant owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed’s daughter Camilla, where she anticipated giggling at the clean-eating faddishness, but to her surprise had a “proper lunch”.

“I liked it a lot and would definitely return. Farmacy is not, as it may sound, remotely po-faced or preachy.”

⦿ Keith Miller in The Telegraph reviewed Norwich vegetarian restaurant Wild Thyme, which he felt measured up “pretty well” against the best veggie dishes in carnivore establishments.

“The food at Wild Thyme was fresh, punchy and even mildly, if not wildly, original “

⦿ His colleague Michael Deacon was also in Norfolk, at The Rose & Crown in Snettisham 2/5, where he was disappointed by both the decor and his “very average” main course of lamb.

“The perfect pub should be chaotically cluttered. Clutter makes a pub homely, cosy. Here there was too much blank wall space.”

⦿ Emma Henderson of The Independent reviewed Craft London on the Greenwich Peninsular 4/5, where chef Stevie Parle and his team offer good-value experimental meals on Tuesday nights.

“Test Kitchen Tuesdays has been running since January and will set you back a mere £28 per person, which makes it completely worth getting out to North Greenwich for. The standout dish of the eight I tried was the poached mallard, textured with matchsticks of smoked apple, served skin-on and cooked to a succulent pink.”

⦿ In the Sunday Times, AA Gill reviewed Casita Andina, a “rather good” Peruvian in Soho where “the absence of guinea pig was the greatest disappointment… There is no reason why we shouldn’t eat guinea pigs. In fact, I can’t think of anything better to do with them.”

“For lunch, you can choose any two dishes for a tenner, which is probably the best value for different, well-made food in really uncomfortable surroundings anywhere in Soho.”

⦿ Giles Coren in the Times was bowled over by the “new and exciting” cuisine at the Exmouth Market branch of Berber & Q, a “Turkish-ish barbecue/kebab phenomenon from Haggerston”.

“The glory of this place lies in the abundance of ancillary things plonked down in saucers to make the meat sing, as much as in the meat itself.”

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