Harden’s review of the reviews

Jay Rayner in The Observer falls head over heels for Bertha at Edo, a new restaurant from former Ramsay protégé Jonny Elliot which opened discreetly in Belfast last year. To clarify, Bertha is the name of their wood-fired oven. You weren’t expecting her to be the waitress were you?

“One of the issues with somewhere like Northern Ireland, which has a fast-developing restaurant sector, is the assumption in some quarters that it must be a certain thing: every dish must give us pipe and drum and champ and bacon.

“Edo, near the Europa in Belfast, run by chef Jonny Elliott, who has time on his CV with Rhodes and Ramsay. It sounds like a Japanese place, but the name is Latin for “I eat”. It therefore declares itself to be modern European.

“The menu is a game of two halves. One side is dedicated to familiar tapas, and it’s fine.

“But the real reason for going there is listed on the other side of the menu under the word “Bertha”. It refers to their wood-fired oven, filled with logs of pear and apple tree alongside pieces of peat.

“A chunky cured ham hock for £15.50 has been slow roasted in that oven until it is sticky and falling apart. A salt-cured beef cheek has been for a long turn through Bertha until it, too, is falling apart.

“It’s a mark of Belfast’s vibrant restaurant sector that Edo, though open three months, was not a name that brought nods of recognition from my friends over there in the food business. It’s slightly under the radar, but deserves to be better known.”

 

Grace Dent in The Guardian finds that she rather enjoys spending other people’s money at Old World Hospitality’s Mayfair newcomer Indian Accent on the former site of Chor Bizarre (RIP)…

“I’ve developed a shorthand for places like Indian Accent: the scribble “OPM”, or Other People’s Money.

“If you find yourself in Mayfair drubbing through someone else’s expense account, well, I cannot recommend Manish Mehrotra’s teensy-weensy blue cheese naan enough.

“Spheres of frankly delicious aloo chat topped with a white pea mash arrive with a vocal autopsy.

“Soy keema… is one of the greatest vegetarian offerings I’ve ever tasted.

“I spent OPM on Indian Accent and really rather liked it. But I will never, ever go back. Like many restaurateurs before them, I’m sure they’ll be over the moon.”

 

Marina O’Loughlin at The Sunday Times checks out the new menu format at Norse, Harrogate’s “unique” Scandinavian-yet-firmly-rooted-in-Yorkshire restaurant. The venue has been having a tough time of late and says without a pick-up in trade they may not survive. Marina is here to tell you to get there while you still can…

“They’ve moved away from the tasting-menu-only format that kettled the restaurant under “special occasions only” and have taken the radical step of starters, main courses and desserts: “Modern food using Yorkshire produce.

“Format may have been reined in, but skill and creativity continue at full tilt: duck, its breast carmine, its confit legs packed into a little croquette; parsnip both roasted till almost parsnip toffee and fried into crisps; fierce little fermented cranberries with a soothing malt purée holding the whole shebang together like an accomplished hostess.

“Creativity can backfire, of course. But here it often fires on all cylinders, too: a chunk of maple-poached apple crowned with a billow of miso-salty marshmallow and parfait of pepperkake — Norwegian-style gingerbread — rubbly with toasted oats: seductive brilliance.”

 

And Giles Coren in The Times reviews the London outpost of Coal Shed (the original is in Brighton) where he happily finds ‘the most epic of kebabs’…

“The menu is a cross between the new-wave posh steakhouse vibe of the past few years, with a load of cuts of well-aged steak written up on a board at some distance across the dark-wooded room, and the low and slow barbecue thing, which is slightly different, but not much, I grant you.

“My eyes lit upon the “goat to share” for £50, which was written up on the menu as “Moroccan spiced smoked goat, zatar flatbreads, aubergine, tahini, chickpeas, harissa yoghurt”, and, as far as I am concerned, is the kind of thing one can’t not order.

“Torn and then stuffed into flaps of crispy bread, slathered with tahini and harissa, the deep, almost petrolly charred goat meat, slippery with fat, sang easily through the tart spicy notes of its condiments and was the most epic of kebabs.”

 

Ben Norum in The Evening Standard gives four stars to Peckham newcomer Kudu – a South African venture from Patrick Williams and Amy Corbin (yep, of those Corbins)…

“South African vibes run wild through the menu.

“Patrick started his career at Cape Town’s renowned La Colombe… Amy has restaurants in her blood: her father is none other than Chris Corbin… the space is simple but stylish; comfortable, cosy and convivial.

“A succession of small plates which pack big flavours kick off with traditional pan-cooked South African bread and a pot of melted seafood butter for mopping up with it… braai roasted lamb is pure meat might alleviated with sultry smoked yoghurt.

“Gallop on down to Peckham for a vibrant new addition to the neighbourhood.”

 

Julie Burchill in The Evening Standard heads to Nuala on the City/Shoreditch fringe. If you’re looking for heaping amounts of colcannon and fiddle music this is not the place for you…

” this new restaurant slap-bang on Silicon Roundabout, which is brought to you by Niall Davidson of Chiltern Firehouse fame”

” [dining companion] The Flâneur was stumped at the idea of Irish food beyond soda bread and colcannon and, like all decent people, was wary of the possibility of fiddle music acting as the soundtrack to our scoffing.”

” We were pleasantly surprised to find a confident, modern room which resembled a posh burger place”

” There’s something cheekily insouciant about Nuala; it takes the clichés of modern watering holes, shrugs and goes ahead anyway”

“Nuala takes two played-out preposterousnesses — that of the hipster and that of comfort food — and makes them shiny and new.”

 

 

Michael Deacon in The Telegraph reviews Rascals in Shoreditch – a restaurant that infuriatingly describes itself as a place for  ‘audacious chit chat, steam release and mega indulgence’. Understandably amid all this east London hip-ness the Telegraph critic feels a little out of place: “I felt like a high-court judge trying 
to review the Stormzy album.”

 

 

Tom Parker Bowles in The Daily Mail finds ample opportunity to mention that he once travelled through Thailand with David Thompson as he reviews 101 Thai Kitchen in Hammersmith…

“The finest food often comes from the shabbiest places, dishes that delight in spite of their less-than-salubrious surroundings.

[the above was followed by two paragraphs of humble brag about all the places around the world he’d eaten amazing food in shacks. Yawn…]

“I always favour good food over fussy fittings. Which is lucky, as 101 Thai Kitchen, a small Thai restaurant on Hammersmith’s King Street, is unashamedly utilitarian. Basic it may be but it’s scrupulously clean and eternally busy. Because this is a place that serves up some of the best Thai food I’ve eaten in London. No edges are smoothed here, and there’s little concession to timid Western palates… the dishes of the south, where chillies are used with reckless abandon… really shine.

[Did he forget to mention he travelled Thailand once with David Thompson? No, he drops it in here.]

“Here, in the heart of Hammersmith, one spoonful of the sour prawn curry transports me straight back. It has a bracing sharpness, and a sly pungency too, the discreet whiff of the drain. Add in the incredible value of the place, along with swift, efficient service, and it’s easy to see why I’m in there most weeks.”

 

Nick Lander in The Financial Times compares and contrasts two Mayfair nouvelle Indian restaurants – Jamavar and Indian Accent – with Indian Accent (surprisingly, perhaps) coming out on top. Lander thinks Jamavar is feeling the loss of chef Rohit Ghai and believes his successor Surender Mohan “can’t get here soon enough”.

 

Jamavar: “There was nothing drastically bad except that almost everything — including a very weak William of Orange cocktail (Martin Miller gin, lemon and orange zest and orange bitter) — lacked the sophisticated spicing that can make an evening in an Indian restaurant so compelling and would have justified our bill of £180 for two.”

Indian Accent: “More exciting options are to be found at Indian Accent, an outpost of the Delhi original, which has already opened a sister establishment in New York. Each dish comes meticulously plated and there is less emphasis here on rice as a filling and separate accompaniment. The breads, including a kulcha — a kind of naan with a wide choice of stuffings, such as black pudding — are excellent. And there are plenty of vegetarian choices as well.”

 

 

 

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