Harden’s review of the reviews

⦿ Jay Rayner of The Observer reviewed Bundobust in Manchester, a “vibrant and cheap” combination of Indian veggie streetfood and craft beer that opened in December — and “by God, it works“.

“Right now, the large, echoey basement space off the city’s Piccadilly feels like a big fat link in a chain, only one that hasn’t quite been built yet. It is one of a kind, but if there isn’t a Bundobust like this in every university town across the north of England within three years I’ll be very surprised.”

“Their golden tarka dal, served over pillows of basmati rice, is punchy with onions and garlic, and fistfuls of roasted cumin. For those who feel a night out like this is not complete without something shoved inside a brioche bun, there’s the bhaji butty. It’s a classic thick and crisp onion bhaji layered with their own spiced ketchup and a coriander and green chilli chutney, which makes you blink and sigh.”

⦿In The Guardian, Marina O’Loughlin was thoroughly disappointed by The Wildebeest 5/10 at Stoke Holy Cross in Norfolk.

“A starter features scallop-sized discs of chicken mousse with a claque of cheering accompaniments. Both the mousse and grimly overcooked “garlic butter-poached langoustine” are rubbery. Mushrooms are compost-slimy. ”

“I know that this excess, with its gels, soils, foams, is often conflated with haute cuisine. But the execution just isn’t good enough. Dishes give the impression that individual elements were prepared much, much earlier and tweezered together at the last minute.”

⦿ Fay Maschler of the Evening Standard reviewed  Enoteca Turi 3/5, which has moved to Pimlico after 25 years in Putney.

“A dish of pasta, an indulgence of dessert, a glass or three of wine; that would be my approach to Enoteca Turi.”

“In the main course, oxtail has been unwisely prised from its bones and is zapped by an over-reduced and thus over-salted sauce. But the pasta course we choose to share — cheese and black pepper (cacio e pepe) tortelli with parsnip purée and diced, seared cuttlefish — is masterful, delicately balanced, delectable.” 

⦿ Grace Dent of ES magazine reviewed Jamavar 4/5, which offers “elegant North and South Indian dining” in Mayfair.

“Dinner was, all told, rather decent. Grilled adraki lamb chops arrived rare and gloriously rich with royal cumin. And sorry, but I couldn’t resist the Suffolk corn-fed butter chicken; as it whizzed time and again past my eyeline, it was clear it was pleasing the masses — and it sated me with its soft, sweet, decadent loveliness.”

⦿ In Time Out, Tania Ballantine reviewed Corazon  4/5, “an unassuming taco specialist at the unsexy end of Soho’s Poland Street” that offers generous portions.

“Also excellent was the carne asada: another blue corn tortilla, this time smeared with smooth avocado, then loaded with slivers of pink pickled onion, shredded lettuce and succulent morsels of orange-and-soy-marinated hanger steak.” offers hospitality in the old-school sense.”

“For afters, be sure to get the coconut flan: it’s unashamedly syrupy and decadent, just like you’d get in Mexico.”

⦿ Alastair Gilmour of The Telegraph reviewed the Staith House in North Shields, a pub that has resumed its original name from 1807.

“I consider Isle of Lewis mussels, game stew and 35-day aged rump of beef, then order grilled fillet of Shields mackerel, samphire and gooseberries with hunks of home-made bread and home-made butter (made with home-made salt). I’m taken aback at the sheer quality.”

⦿ Tom Parker Bowles of the Mail on Sunday reviewed the Guinea Grill 4/5 in Mayfair, “a place where pies always please, and steaks never let you down”.

There’s a lamb chop, the flesh torn from the bone in one joyous bite. And sausage, plump, herby and as steadfastly English as any Anthony Trollope Warden. A fat morsel of rare, minerally sirloin steak nestles next to a great peppery slab of ox heart, reassuringly chewy and surprisingly subtle. Beef liver is a little more, well, robust than the usual lamb but what it lacks in delicacy, it makes up for in flavour. Then a single lamb’s kidney, expertly trimmed, exquisitely fresh and lusciously pert. A couple of slices of bacon rib steak add smoke and salt, while a fried egg, garlicky field mushroom and properly grilled tomato are almost lost in this marvellous morass. Phew and hallelujah. This is a dish of London legend, the Ozymandias of mixed grills.”

⦿ In the Financial Times, Tim Hayward reviewed Ravinder Bhogal’s Jikoni in Marylebone, which he found “completely charming” “bonkers”, and “ravishingly delicious”.

“The lobster khichdee is the sort of dish that, when brought to the table, will cause every other diner to quickly change their order — to quote Nora Ephron, ‘I’ll have what she’s having’.”

⦿ Giles Coren of The Times reviewed Breddos tacqueria 8/10 in Clerkenwell, formerly of Dinerama streetfood market.

Oh my God, the crunchy nut sweetbreads with pea mole and habanero, like a three-Michelin starter zapped by an angry Gandalf and fired from an Uzi. The kung pao pork belly with sichuan pepper and bird’s eye chilli — nobody else could have thought of that, nobody! Or the fat, orange, organic egg, coddled (or maybe fried) then eased onto your tortilla with macadamia nut mole and queso frsco and surprisingly right with a grapefruit-flavoured pale ale.”

⦿ In the Sunday Times, David Baddiel reviewed Jun Tanaka’s The Ninth 5/5 in Fitzrovia, which triumphantly shattered his prejudices against “posh food”.

“Mackerel, raw but flamed, is amazing — so fresh and delicate and blends so well with the pickles… The sea bass is so tender and melting it’s virtually sushi, yet warm and cooked through, not seared. It’s like a magic trick.”

“For dessert, I have an ile flottante that makes me feel as if I am floating on an island not of custard and meringue but of sweet (but not too sweet) bliss.”


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