Harden’s review of the reviews

When Grace Dent reviewed The Langham’s new ‘pub’ The Wigmore, she decided she never, ever wanted to go there again. We would hazard a guess that The Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin would be quite happy to go back any time…“Silly? A bit. Delicious? Oh yes.”

“Creative cocktails in their own weeny tankards… pies and roasts and toasties… reimagined by angels – in the guise of consultant, Michel Roux Jr. The cheese toastie – a behemoth of a thing anchored by a heavy, cast-iron bacon press and oozing excellent aged cheddar, red onion, mustard and cornichons in the most lascivious way.

“Chips come dusted with “bloody mary salt”, which is basically everything that makes that cocktail such a joy powdered and scattered over real chips, crisp and fluffy and evil. Apologies for the restaurant name-dropping, but the menu can come across a bit “greatest hits”.

“The place is beautiful, too, painted in a high-gloss sage green that brings to mind Victorian gin palaces; there’s intricate parquetry underfoot; and the bar appears to be lined with endpaper from ancient, precious books. If The Wigmore says it’s a pub, then it must be so… But it is as far removed from Wetherspoons as it’s possible to be while sharing the same atmosphere.”

Jay Rayner in The Observer, 24 September 2017 reviewed Seoul Kimchi, Manchester

“This sort of restaurant has a noble place in the heart of a certain kind of menu chaser. The more uncomfortable the experience, the better it is deemed to be. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s worth it.

” This is cheap, gutsy Korean soul food, which will curl your hair with a faint sheen of sweat if you order properly… jeon, a thick savoury Korean pancake, as crisp and lacy as a deep-fried doily, but soft and dense inside… filled with strands of squid and prawn… a cast iron plate of galbi, Korean beef ribs sawn in thin strips through the bone. The meat is soy-marinated and deeply savoury, and rips pleasingly… bibimbap… is one of the single most satisfying items of comfort food available.”

Meanwhile David Sexton in the Evening Standard reviewed Mayfair’s new Japanese restaurant and Kakurega bar, Cubé…

“Cubé is a serious place… often in Japanese cooking textures are as challenging to Western palates as tastes… hitsumabushi … Nagoya’s refinement of the popular summer dish, unadon, in which chopped, soy-flavoured eel is served over rice with dashi broth.

“Aburi salmon carpaccio (£8.90) was delectable — half a dozen very thinly sliced pieces of salmon, just brushed with a blowtorch to melt a little of the fish’s fat, without cooking it at all.

“Simple, Japanese deep-fried dishes were good… service is graceful and the design minimal… a most soothing venue for a drink and a plate.”

And over at the ES Magazine Grace Dent heads for Battersea’s new-ish Scandi pizza offering, Mother, and really can’t see what the fuss is all about…

“Mother is what I term professionally a ‘mirage’ opening. The closer you draw to it, the more disappointingly clear it becomes that it does not really exist.

“A bit of a trek just to taste Copenhagen’s slant on sourdough pizza… legendary signature seawater sourdough bases and wild, gauche, experimental toppings that have left Copenhagen’s nightlife reeling… the pizzas were… meh-inducing. Thank heavens for the lovely waitresses who jollied the whole thing along, being glorious.

“Mother is an odd one. If she really was my mother, I’d be writing a misery memoir.”

Keith Miller in The Telegraph gives his verdict on The Other Naughty Piglet – sister restaurant to Brixton’s much loved Naughty Piglet – on the first floor of The Other Palace Theatre in Belgravia…

“A couple of years ago a Brixton restaurant … by the smackably twee name of Naughty Piglets began winning plaudits for its innovative sharing plates and commitment to natural wines. I arrived front-loaded with scepticism.

“The restaurant is accessed via a spectacular, and spectacularly hideous, marble ­staircase, coiling malevolently up from the ground floor bar

“We hugely enjoyed pretty much everything… perfect little plateful of crimson venison loin with a creamy bone marrow sauce; a honey-laced, yogurt-braced panna cotta with walnuts and confit figs… Lots of interesting textures and forceful flavours, harmoniously poised. I still don’t know what to make of it.”


Time Out gives four out of five stars to Made of Dough’s Peckham pizzeria (the original is in a Brixton shipping container).

In the FT: Tripe to treasure: Claude Bosi brings a family recipe to Bibendum

“Cow’s stomach and cuttlefish is a risky thing to put on the menu. But this chef can pull it off.”

And Tom Parker Bowles in The Daily Mail reviews Birmingham’s exceptional neighbourhood restaurant, Carters of Moseley. “Devotedly, charmingly geeky,” it’s some of the best food he’s eaten all year…

“The resolutely old-world name belies a thrustingly modern restaurant, albeit one sat in an unassuming mock-Tudor parade on the southern outskirts of Birmingham.

“Front-of-house staff have… near-evangelical passion, eager to explain not just where the bread’s flour is milled but a detailed history of said mill… the sheer unbridled warmth, the unfiltered passion, the raw, gleaming pride is contagious. What could be strangely cultish becomes endearingly clubbish.

“There’s a fundamental simplicity to the food, despite some expert technique, and an admirable clarity of flavour… a mouthful of gloriously bolshy chicken liver parfait, all boozy, offally sneer, lies hidden beneath a layer of toasted nuts and seeds… things cheer up with a splendidly autumnal pine mushroom porridge, with a profound umami bellow… Lustily salted too, and gone in two bites.

“My favourite dish of all… two whole grouse breasts, perfectly roasted and delicately gamey, flanked by Scottish chanterelles, lashings of clear gravy, and a buttery mess of sweetcorn. By its side, a deep-fried lollipop, made with the leg and minced offal.

“Even the puddings are worth writing about… a zinging, feather-light strawberry tart with lemon mint and meadowsweet.

“Devotedly, charmingly geeky… incredible value too, £65 for course upon course of some of the best food I’ve eaten all year.”

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