Review of the reviews

Cantor’s Food Store, Manchester

Jay Rayner for The Observer found “Ottolenghi with a Manc accent” (and a pizza oven) in Manchester, at Cantor’s Food Store. It’s run by Eddy Cantor: the food “draws loosely on his Jewish roots”, and is “a happy place, where you could mislay an afternoon or a morning”. Although apparently it’s pretty quiet mid-week – hopefully Jay’s review will remedy that.

Dishes of salt beef and falafel won Jay over with their accompaniments: “thin, crisp latkes”, “seriously crunchy new green pickles”, an “intensely savoury and nutty” rice salad and “silky hummus with a peppery, piquant kick”.

Jay’s parting advice: “Leave room for dessert.” – a Kurdish pastry chef pops in regularly to create “blissful concoctions out of cream and sugar”, including a “snowy meringue cake, which looks like the rococo cornicing in a Florentine palazzo” and is “like eating clouds”.

Market Halls Victoria, London SW1

Grace Dent for The Guardian visited London’s newest food hall, the converted nightclub in Victoria: a “gargantuan three-floor space has been gutted and filled with permanent stalls selling vivid purple, ruby prawn dumplings, fancy udon noodles and bespoke salt beef”.

“The list of vendors is lovingly curated” – with offshoots from mega-popular street food vendors Koya and Roti King (Grace visited specifically for the latter’s “legendary roti canai”). Another “familiar friend” includes the Reuben from Monty’s Deli, and already on the list for her next visit is “Koya Ko’s tempura atsu-atsu, a bowl of world-class, pale, slippery, fat udon in a classic, deep, heart-drenching dashi broth”.

Overall, it’s “a wholesome, multipurpose space that serves decent food”, and a very enjoyable one, too. Look out for more Market Halls venues (soon to open in Oxford Street, and with their eye on York next).(20/30)

Fortnum & Mason REX, London EC3

Jimi Famurewa for The Evening Standard took his mother and brother to lunch at Fortnum & Mason’s new restaurant in the “vaulted neoclassical atrium” of The Royal Exchange.

The menu is “a sensible edit of all the famous, fortifying things you want, plus a few veggie-pleasing concessions to the modern world”. They ate “vivid-yolked, delicately crisped cannonballs” (Scotch eggs), fish pie, “meltingly tender ox cheek with horseradish mash” and the famous Knickerbocker Glory (“now outfitted with an Insta-bait swirl of blow-torched marshmallow crème… a popping candy-laced, joyfully childish hit of silliness”).

There’s “nothing mind-fryingly inventive” here but they left with “a fuzzy, festive glow” and a new Christmas tradition. (8/10)

Brasserie of Light, London W1

Marina O’Loughlin for The Sunday Times visited “flamboyant addition to Selfridges”, Brasserie of Light, where the décor is “art deco as reimagined by Gianni Versace, with a little help from Liberace” : “everything, but everything, glitters”.

She’d read about the Pegasus statue, seen it on many an Instagram feed, but “nothing can prepare you for its impact in the shimmering flesh”. The whole place “feels fresh and new and pulsating with enormous hedonistic fun” – even the toilets are “powder rooms descended from Olympus”.

The food really isn’t the point: there’s “the most basic of menus”, “food you can hoover up mid-shop without really registering it”, “all whims catered for”. But Marina can confirm that the realisation is “better than it needs to be”.

“Never thought I’d hear myself saying this, but Richard Caring, I take my hat off to you. Top hat, in Lurex, of course.”

The Greene Oak, Windsor

Micheal Deacon for The Telegraph delivered a four-and-a-half star rating for Windsor newcomer The Greene Oak, a “quintessential modern pub” where “eating clearly takes priority over drinking”… “more like a restaurant in pub colours”.

From the “long, varied and colourful” menu, Michael ate beef shin croquettes, cod tongue (“an absolute beauty”) and “rabidly, shriekingly, hyperactively sweet” frozen peanut butter with dark chocolate cookies.

“Upmarket but relaxed; good food without airs.” (****1/2)

This was Michael Deacon’s last restaurant review: “to be paid to eat at fancy restaurants has been an obscene and thoroughly unearned privilege.”

Pompette, Oxford

Tom Parker Bowles for The Mail on Sunday reviewed Oxford newcomer Pompette (which is French for ‘tipsy’) – no prizes for guessing the score, even though it’s “a bistro to adore”, it racks up his standard four stars.

Chef patron Pascal Wiedemann (formerly of Racine and Terroirs) is serving up “serious Gallic grub” here. The room could do with some warmth – it looks like the “unplanned lovechild of Café Rouge and Le Dôme”.

But the food is “deliriously au point”: TPB ate “a magnificent beef tartare… blessed with the sudden crunch of rosemary-spiked breadcrumbs, and a sublimely extravagant richness, tempered with pert acidity”, a fish soup “of such gusto and swagger” that he wanted to swim in it, thanks to its “booze, bluster and Mariana Trench depth”, and a crème caramel “that cannot be bettered”. (****)

And also….

Kicking off the annual round-ups, Fay Maschler for The Evening Standard gave us a list of her top 16 restaurants of the year.

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