Harden’s review of the reviews

⦿ Jay Rayner in The Observer truffled out Umezushi, a 14-seater Japanese restaurant under a Manchester railway arch, with cooks from Korea, Spain and the Czech Republic, which he found “really very good indeed and, at the price, a bit of a miracle”.

“Slices of wagyu, sensitively flamed, almost justify the £10 price tag that accompanies eating the Audrey Hepburn of steak. It is a cheerful, buttery hit of dribbling animal fat.

“Umezushi is a bit of a diamond in the rough; a hidden temple to the worship of good things. Go there. Just don’t tell anyone else about it.”

⦿ The Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin reviewed Horn Please 6/10, a “contemporary” Indian in Glasgow where she found some of the dishes “bewildering”.

“Is the bread pakora delicate, nuanced, considered? No chance. Do we wolf it like animals? Hell, yes.”

“Quality is equally confused: dishes range from ravishing to bewildering.”

⦿ In the Evening Standard, Fay Maschler reviewed Samarkand 2/5, an Uzbek restaurant off Charlotte Street, where she praises “the sweetness of the greeting and the service” – but not the cooking.

It seems that somewhere along the long and winding road passing through Central Asia, dexterity with noodles and an understanding of spicing was mislaid and a tendency to bully the flavour out of lamb instilled.”

⦿ Grace Dent of ES Magazine was disappointed by Blandford Comptoir 2/5 in Marylebone, which “opened to bubbling praise this summer, although by the time I arrived it had distinctly lost its fizz, a bit like a bottle of Champagne left with a teaspoon for a cork.”

“The rump of lamb lacked any oomph largely because its flavour clung to the plate in a brown puddle of borlotti beans.”

⦿ The Telegraph’s Michael Deacon reviewed The Frog 3/5, in Spitalfields, where “the chicken butter really was delicious”.     

“Macaroni cheese ‘the Frog way’ was a big foaming pudding, practically a trifle, of melted cheese, with a handful of macaroni buried somewhere at the bottom.  I enjoyed it, but maybe my description makes it sound a bit weird.”

⦿ In the Sunday Times, AA Gill reviewed Bronte 1/5 in the Strand, where he found an “incoherent” menu serviced by a “kitchen plainly not up to it”.

“Nothing is terribly good. My fish and chips were a biscuit-like batter and a flavourless fish that had been badly filleted and was full of pin bones.”

⦿ Giles Coren of The Times liked Cha Chaan Teng 5/10 in Holborn, a tribute to western-style Hong Kong cafés, despite finding the savoury courses too sweet – “This is basically a (quite good) dessert restaurant”.

“When it’s been up and running for a while and is fuller of people, and the staff have relaxed and the boiled eggs have been removed from the doughnuts, it will do very well.”

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