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

by Janet Harmer, Monday 22nd February 2010 15:00

The Guardian, 20 February
Matthew Norman describes eating at the Evesham hotel, Evesham, Worcestershire, as a disconcertingly odd experience


Reflecting on an endlessly ¬bewildering dinner at the ¬Evesham Hotel, ¬perhaps there was a tiny hint from the outset. It isn't every day that you enter a hotel (one garlanded with awards, at that) to be greeted by an owner wearing a wooden tie with a teddy bear ¬hanging from its base. What's the matter?" asked said proprietor, one John Jenkinson. "Have you never seen a tie before?" I had, I said, but nothing like that. Not between the lapels of a jacket that does up at the front, at any rate. He offered to change it for something more conventional, returning with a furry, talking orang-utan around his neck in its stead. “Does he think he's Basil Fawlty?" asked one friend after hearing him thrice address me, with a ¬contemptuous familiarity alien even to my wife, as "you bloody fool".…Back in the bar, it became ¬curiouser and curiouser as the owner delivered four bulbous albums that comprise one of the best wine lists I've ever seen (great wine, minimal mark-up). He then recommended a Georgian red that would have thrilled Stalin, before presenting two bottles of it and inviting us to try one on the novel grounds that "it's a ¬little corked". (Three courses à la carte with wine and coffee: £40-50 per head)
The Evesham Hotel – review in full >>
 
The Independent, 20 February
Tracey MacLeod believes that as a destination in its own right, HUNter 486 at The Arch Hotel, London W1, is yet to find its USP

Like the décor, the menu hasn't quite made up its mind, balancing ambition with an eager-to-please pragmatism. British staples, such as fish pie and braised lamb shank, sit alongside fancier fare, including foie gras and guinea fowl terrine, and there's also a touch of the room service in the inclusion of burgers and pizzas. The rustic simplicity of a charcuterie board, served with a hunk of rosemary focaccia, was let down by underwhelming meats, and some rather nasty olives in a small jar. My companion Sharon described it regretfully as "a bit M&S chilled cabinet". Much better was a roast beetroot and goats' cheese tarte fine, crisp of pastry and full of big punchy tastes. Again, though, the conflict between rustic and fancy played out on a plate decorated with puréed beetroot, but topped with a rubble of crumbled oatcakes. Main courses are reasonably priced and generally well put together, if unexciting. Spatchcocked poussin, grilled with lemon and thyme, was over-reliant on a heavily reduced Madeira jus to supply interest. Confit of pork belly similarly fell short on the flavour front; all the fat had been cooked off, leaving the meat bland under its carapace of crackling, which could only be bitten into with a room-silencing crunch. (£50 a head including wine, before service. Rating: food 3/5, ambience 2/5, service 3/5)
HUNter 486 at The Arch Hotel – review in full >>

The Observer, 21 February
Jay Rayner says the Pipe & Glass Inn, South Malton, East Yorkshire, is a class act and hopes the winning of a Michelin star brings it serious business

The food, while knowingly pubby in places – prawn cocktail, fish pie – can also be developed and intricate. For example, a tartar of salmon came with a tiny "scotch egg" of smoked salmon, with a centre of quail's egg whose yolk still ran. Crisp rissoles of wild rabbit were partnered with cockles, capers and sorrel, and while on the menu it caused a raised eyebrow, on the plate it didn't. Queenie scallops, the size of my fingertips – I have big hands – came on the half shell with a cheese and herb crust, and on the side a pickled chicory salad. All of these could have done with a bolder hand on the seasoning – let a cockle speak as a cockle – but there was no doubting the quality of the cookery. Or the keenness of the pricing. It was a fair slab of sirloin, rare within, crusted without, for £17.95, and that's before you consider the salad of lightly jellied salt beef on the side, or the chips. The same is true of the huge, double-limbed Barnsley chop, with its crisp fat and glossy exterior, the devilled kidneys, the cast-iron pot of boulangerie potatoes baked long enough so that they had become crusted to the metalwork. Oh, and the bowl of crunchy, pickled red cabbage. There were no fierce culinary fireworks here, but there was lots of technique and a real instinct to feed. (Meal for two, including wine and service, £110)
Pipe & Glass Inn – review in full >>

The Sunday Telegraph, 21 February
Zoe Williams loves everuthing about  the food and the prices at Manson, London SW6

I had the steak tartare (£8); it was a kind of aversion therapy (this dish scares me – well, come on, it is raw). It was a triumph. Protocol, I believe, tells you to put the egg yolk in half its shell, like a crown on top of the meat to… I don’t know what, actually. Underline its majesty? Be French? The chef, Gemma Tuley, had eschewed the custom, anyway, and integrated the whole thing for a much creamier, more mayonnaisy effect, which was compellingly edible. I said to the waiter (and I never do this), 'That was just delicious,’ and he replied with a suave yet thoughtful, 'Thanks, we’ve been working on it for a long time.’ Like it was physics, or an Arctic seed bank. Everybody in here seems very invested, and I mean that in therapy-speak, not as in a small-business development loan. My pal had the foie gras terrine (£8), which looked a tiny bit prissy, perhaps, like a starter for a wedding, but was delicious once you speared into it, rich, classy, with a nice thyme-y topnote and a generous side-cloud of brioche.  (Rating: 9/10. Three courses: £30.60)
Manson – review in full >>


By Janet Harmer


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