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

by Kerstin Kühn, Tuesday 1st June 2010 10:35

The Independent, 29 May
John Walsh finds faultless flavoursome cooking at Bar Boulud, London SW1, a restaurant he says is a welcome addition to the capital

The only problem was how to eat anything else. From a menu that swung between retro-French classics and eccentric New York-ish offerings of burgers and sausages, I tried the "beer braised feather blade", an old-fashioned beef carbonnade, but with a difference. Instead of lumps of stewing steak, it offered a whole slab of feather-blade (a cut between neck and forerib with a vein of muscle running through it) that was tender enough to eat with a plastic fork: gooey, fibrous, aching with more flavour than any steak of living memory, it was sensational. (M Boulud told me later it had been cooked sous-vide for 72 hours straight.) Accompanying baby carrots and confited shallots were gorgeous too. The only thing that spoilt this slow-cooked miracle was a gloopy carrot sauce that went everywhere. (About £120 for two with wine. Rating: Food: 4/5, Ambience: 3/5, Service: 4/5)
Bar Boulud - full review >>


Guardian, 29 May
Matthew Norman finds a menu of inconsistent quality at Viajante, London E2, where Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes is fighting an internal battle between technical excellence and plain foolishness

Then came a dish from The Mescaline User's Recipe Book to crystallise the chef's internal battle between technical excellence and plain foolishness. Strips of lemon sole, served with cute mustard gnocchi and much else, would have been great had he not coated them with yeast. I've nothing against men who cook with yeast (like the Queen Mother visiting this part of town in the Blitz, I'm always happy to look the yeast men in the face), but few flavours are better designed to obliterate the delicacy of this fish. Next up came the highlight, a startlingly well-balanced dish in which sweet and tender Iberian pork was matched with savoy cabbage, grated egg and crunchy fried capers. "Brilliant," said my friend. "Everything complements everything else in texture and taste. Why can't he do that with the rest of it?" (Rating 5/10)
Viajante - full review >>


Observer, 30 May
Booking a table at Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, London SW1, gets Jay Rayner’s back up. But once there he finds a great restaurant that offers good value

And the really stupid thing about this? Bar Boulud is great. New York has always been more adept at doing the smart, buzzy urban brasserie than we are, and this feels like that sort of animal, from the hefty bare floorboards through the slick lighting and the red leather banquettes to the big open kitchen. It has an energising rush and clatter, and though it is currently full of the sort of puckered and depilated Eurotrash that Observer readers couldn't tire of poking with pointed sticks, the prices for this part of town aren't exorbitant: plates of charcuterie at around £7, a range of salads and sausages at not much more, mains – including some big-fisted burgers – in the teens. (Meal for two, including wine and service, £100)
Bar Boulud - full review >>


The Times, 29 May
Giles Coren finds unarguably great cooking worth two Michelin stars at Alexis Gauthier’s new restaurant at Lindsay House in Soho, London W1

There was a poached duck egg, brutally trimmed (looking like a perfect little Chinese dumpling), on the pea-tastingest green pea velouté ever; then a roasted scallop on a shellfishy brown butter jus that contained, I think, little pods of lime (those little teardrop baglets of which citrus flesh is made) that would pop occasionally in the mouth and suddenly sparkle and dance, deep in the fishy denseness; then smoked salted wild sea bass (fish, shmish); and then slivers of rarest Angus beef, sexily seared and served with a veal bone split lengthways and roasted, with grain salt on the top, so that gobs of the rich, spermy marrow could be laid upon the beef to grease and fatten each mouthful – stunning. Although sadly we were both so full after the fish course and so desperate to take our deathly froideur home with us, that we had begged for half-portions of the meat and I didn’t get as much as I would have liked. (Rating: 9/10)
Lindsay House - full review >> 


The Independent on Sunday, 30 May
Toby Young says Michel Roux Junior’s co-venture with Compass’ Restaurant Associates, Roux at Parliament Square, London SW1, is more classy coalition than culinary compromise

For my starter, I choose chicken liver and foie-gras parfait with poached rhubarb and two plump slices of toasted brioche. The combination of the silky smooth parfait with the crunch of the toast is exquisite and the tartness of the rhubarb perfectly offsets the creamy richness of the foie gras. The most enticing main course on the set menu is roast sea bream, but alas that is off today, so I go for Berkshire Black pork belly accompanied by heritage carrots, Pommery mousseline and some creamed potato. This is perfectly executed and the pork has a deep, pungent flavour. I particularly like the little metal jug of jus that is set beside my plate, enabling me to create little pools of deliciousness in my creamed potato. My neighbour, who has plumped for sea trout, is equally happy judging from her little moans of pleasure. (Rating 17/20)
Roux at Parliament Square - full review >>


Daily Telegraph, 28 May
Jasper Gerard says Paramount at Centre Point, London W1, is tough on prices, tight on portions but the view is worth stomaching the food

The lamb, apparently, was so embarrassed about its £9.75 price tag that it hid shamefaced under the chorizo and egg, further camouflaged by purée. The sweetness of purée and coddled egg is the lubricant, apparently, for soft lamb and chewy chorizo. Guest: "Wouldn't the chorizo have tasted better smoked?" Me, grumpily: "Pass." My starter of salad with sardines does a little more than it says on the tin and is even generous with tasty leaves and red onion rings. The weak link is the pesto sauce, underpowered against the sardine. Alas we are back to portion control with my rump of beef, which is considerably smaller than the jug of (slightly vinegary) béarnaise sauce. The best dish here is five-spice monkfish with creamy, toothy saffron risotto and crab spring roll. The only failure is an incidental aubergine purée that can't compete with these strong flavours. (Lunch for two £103. Rating: 6/10)
Paramount - full review >>


Sunday Times, 30 May
AA Gill finds the best burger at Bar Boulud, which he otherwise considers a mediocre restaurant albeit with excellent service
.

I remember the burgers being rather good in New York. They offer three: a straightforward cheeseburger; a Frenchie, which comes with a lot of cancan and accordion and a beret; and the piggie burger, which is regular beef roughly minced, with the genius of barbecued pulled pork on top, and onion, bibb lettuce, green- chilli mayo, slaw and fries. This is brilliant. Real Miss USA on a bun. The pork and the chilli mayo make it exceptional, but you couldn’t eat this opposite anyone who hadn’t already agreed to sleep with you. It just looks like lesbian judo. Burgers, for all their mythology, are monoglot food. These ones manage to retain their oafish, redneck muscle, but have an added French je ne sais quoi. A bit of wit. A good pick-up line. (Rating: Burgers 10/10, Restaurant 3/10)
Bar Boulud - full review >>


By Kerstin Kühn

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