What’s on the Menu? - A round-up of the latest restaurant reviews

by Janet Harmer , Monday 23rd March 2009 12:09

The Guardian, 21 March
Matthew Norman visits Moran’s, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

As the first forkful of scampi sidled gingerly into his mouth, my friend's head snapped still in surprise, then began to oscillate gently in ecstatic bemusement. "I can't believe it," he whispered. "I didn't give the place a chance. When the waitress said, 'Is there anywhere you'd like to sit?' I wanted to say Melbourne. Or Belmarsh. Anywhere but here. This is bizarre." I took the point. Seldom in my years striving doughtily at this journalistic rock face have I come across a hidden gem quite as deeply buried and half as gleaming as Moran's - a self-styled wine bar in a single-storey building (a unit, really) on an unprepossessing parade in an affluent suburb of Sheffield, separated from an insolvency practitioner only by a furniture store with which it shares its entrance.
Moran’s - review in full >>

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The Independent, 21 March
Tracey MacLeod visits The Partridge Inn, Wallingford, Oxfordshire


The ratings system used on this page doesn't really reflect the whole picture. One crucial aspect of the dining experience goes unrated – my behaviour as a customer. And thank God, because this week, I would have to award myself and my guests just one star. We arrived late. We were eight, when we'd booked for seven. We had four rain-soaked children in tow, one of whom ran amok and removed items of clothing. And, unforgiveably, we asked for things. Things that apparently couldn't be produced. Some of the requested items were reasonable enough. Beer, for example. After all, The Partridge Inn, in the pretty market town of Wallingford, bills itself as a "country pub and restaurant", so you might expect it to have a good local bitter on draft. But no, the only draft beers were lagers.
The Partridge Inn – review in full >>



The Sunday Telegraph, 22 March
Zoe Williams visits Artisan Restaurant, Hessle, East Yorkshire

The Artisan is your quintessential special-occasion restaurant: it’s the converted front room of a sizeable Georgian town house, with genteel but plump soft furnishings, beige and taupe walls, heavy brocade curtains in a very trad maroon and a shiny, dainty chandelier. Cast yourself back to visiting your poshest relatives, who were very kind to you, but because your mum went on so much about behaving yourself something always went wrong. Some spillage or emission. That’s how I felt as we walked in, smack into a couple who looked like they were about to get engaged. But, in fairness, the tables are intelligently laid out and once S and I sat down the other tables felt further away, pretty much receded altogether.
Artisan Restaurant – review in full >>



The Observer, 22 March
Jay Rayner visits Circus Eats, London E15

There are various words when used to describe menus which make me want to hide under the duvet and call for Mummy. If I ever have to study another "pan-Asian tapas" menu again, it will be too soon and God save me from "luxury Ukrainian cuisine". Surely my people have suffered enough? But, worst of all, because it fails so desperately to do the describing for which it is being employed, is the word "eclectic". Usually, if I'm told a menu is eclectic, I reach for the cattle prod. Eclectic when applied to a menu is taken to mean interesting, diverse and carefree. Generally what it actually means is unfocused, vapid, careless and "Look! The chef has just got back from two weeks in Phuket." To which I say Phuket all. I ain't eating there. And then along comes a restaurant to which the word can reasonably be applied and I just have to forgive it. That restaurant is Circus Eats at the Stratford Circus Arts Centre in Stratford, east London.
Circus Eats – review in full >>


By Janet Harmer


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