Metro, 18 April
Andy Lynes says new Cinnamon Soho feels like a poor relation to its predecessors, the Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen
Main courses are the least interesting of the dishes we try. Smoked saddle of Cumbrian lamb with spiced onion sauce is an unremarkable lump of protein that doesn't taste remotely smoky and is served well-done instead of the requested medium. A too-sweet sauce mars an otherwise enjoyable Old Delhi-style tandoori fenugreek chicken. Both dishes come with beautifully cooked mounds of pilaf rice. Rogan josh shepherd's pie sounds like a cross-cultural winner but disappoints on the plate with harsh spicing and ho-hum mash. It's particularly disappointing as executive chef Vivek Singh claims to have created masala mash for the Cinnamon Club. But the signature dish tastes little of the cumin, turmeric, ginger, green chilli and coriander that Singh lists in his published recipe. Far better are the rich and creamy black lentils that take me back to Bukhara restaurant in New Delhi. It's generally a mistake to order dessert in an Indian restaurant and Cinnamon Soho is no exception. The cumin in a dry chocolate cake gives it an acrid aftertaste and the accompanying pistachio ice cream has only a faint nutty flavour.
Rating: 2/5; Price: Dinner for two with wine, water and service costs £90
The London Evening Standard, 19 April
Fay Maschler says utterly reasonable prices make Briciole, London W1, the sort of place you want within walking distance of where you live
I started with the vitello tonnato, sporting pink, tender veal under the tuna sauce studded with capers, and my friend chose mixed salad with beetroot, goat's cheese and walnuts (£4), a gastropub cliché with an Italian accent confined to the vocabulary of rape rossa and formaggio di capra - but generously served. Maurizio Morelli is known for being a dab hand at pasta, with ravioli his pièces de resistances. The pasta served at Briciole is made at the parent restaurant. Tagliatelle carciofi (with artichokes) vindicated his reputation - or that of whoever actually made the delicate strands - dressed with an earthy, olive oily sauce. At dinner on another occasion the seafood sauce for tagliolini didn't have the fresh ozone sparkle you might hope for. "Meatballs and Sausages" is one of the many headings on the menu. "Palermo-style" turns out to mean served with chopped onions cooked down with red wine vinegar and the balls fashioned from cured meat without any ameliorating breadcrumbs. Next time I might go straight to the salsicce stewed with borlotti beans or served in tomato sauce alongside polenta with pecorino cheese.
Rating: 3/5; Price: A meal for two with wine, about £64 including 12.5 per cent service
The Independent, 21 April
John Walsh says that while Adam Simmonds' food is delicious there is a pale ghostliness about the Danesfield House dining experience
The food mostly matches the monochrome décor, but from start to finish is full of vivid flavours. An amuse-bouche of rum jelly with granita whacks your tongue with cold mint and vanishes. Another, of goat's cheese with red pepper and black olive, is a tiny gazpacho with a hint of Milk of Magnesia. Crab salad is a girlishly pretty mosaic of tiny crab molecules, dots of avocado purée and transparent squares of kohlrabi - subtle and pungent but gone too soon. Angie's roasted chicken oysters, lightly battered like a Platonic ideal of chicken nuggets, came with three kinds of potato - Jersey royals, a button of mash and wraith-like crisps. Her main-course brill, cooked sous-vide in a water bath, was the whitest fish I've ever seen and came arrayed with oysters and fabulously soft batons of cucumber, under a section of what looked, at first, like green floor-covering but turned out to be a nasturtium meringue. The salty-and-sweet combination was stunning.
Rating: Food 4/5, Ambience 3/5, Service 4/5; Price: About £200 for two, with wine
The Guardian, 21 April
John Lanchester has lunch at celebrity farmer John Doherty's restaurant Jimmy's Farm near Ipswich, Suffolk, and finds the food is not half bad
What's good and what's less good about the restaurant can be summed up in two words: "rare breeds". The menu makes a point of specialising in them, and in telling you so, which is good, but it keeps shtum about what those rare breeds actually are, so it's behaving as if "rare breed" were a brand name or a type of animal. There's a "rare breed" cheeseburger and a "rare breed" pie of the day. The idea is that you know just enough to be in favour of rare breeds, but not enough to care exactly which one you're eating. Get past this and the grub itself is good - not amazing, but then it's not trying to be; the goal is for decent, homely cooking that shows respect for the ingredients. There's a tart of the day, which on my visit was goat's cheese and courgette; the rocket with it had a distinct, picked-that-morning pepperiness. The pastry wasn't bad, though the filling was underseasoned, which was also true of a handsome plateful of mushrooms (mainly shiitake) on toast with a perfectly poached egg on top and a dollop of cream in the sauce - a pinch or two of salt and a twist of pepper, and it was a different dish.
Price: Lunch, from about £20 a head
The Times, 21 April
Giles Coren says you can eat very well at La Bodega Negrea, a new Mexican from London restaurateur Will Ricker and New York nightclub operator and designer Serge Becker in Soho, London W1, but it's not very cool
There were tostaditas, which I think are tacos that have been hardened either by cooking or going stale, and of these the tuna, avocado and jalapeño was the best. There were two ceviches that nobody touched apart from me because when there are spicy-gunk-filled stodge crackers around, why would you bother with cold raw fish pickled in lime juice with a bit of chilli? I also ordered the crudités, for the sake of our health, but everyone just laughed at the giant bowl of whole raw vegetables. For form's sake, I chowed into one of the Brobdingnagian palm hearts, which was fine for the first mouthful, but then a bit like eating a dictionary. The spit roast chicken was amazing, though, and I'd go back just for that: a platter of fat, juicy, roasty-tasting chicken quarters, the skin all blackened and tarry, and pints of hot, sweet juices. There was big, flaky slow-roasted lamb barbacoa as well, which everyone adored, but I thought was a bit thin and sour. Potatoes mole negro, despite having the silliest-looking name for a side dish I've ever seen (are they named after an Enid Blyton character?), were good little roasties. The green rice was lively, the giant Madagascan prawns were excellent but an environmental nightmare, and the puddings ran from an unexpectedly brilliant crème caramel to some old kindling served with chocolate and given the name of churros.
Score: 5.33; Price: we paid £450 for six people (of which £150 was booze and £50 was the service charge)
The Observer, 22 April
The food at Kitchen Joël Antunès, London W1, may be gorgeous, but at these Mayfair prices it leaves a nasty aftertaste, says Jay Rayner
Much of it really is good: his £14 take on the salad Niçoise is big and fresh, with hunks of marinated tuna and sharp anchovies. It comes in a nice glass bowl. We can all appreciate a nice glass bowl. A roast quail starter, with soupy lentils and a hint of cumin - a nod to the North African influences on the food of the French south - is equally robust. There's that lamb dish, and a big ceramic pot of ribbon pasta with seafood, with the aromatics of basil leaves so young they are probably still calling for their mothers. If you found all this hidden away in a small, wooden-floored, tablecloth-free bistro, full of guttering candles and eager but slightly flustered Latvian waitresses, at two-thirds of the price, you'd hug yourself with glee and tell your friends. With Joël Antunès at Embassy you would hesitate before sending your friends. You would say: "It's very nice, but -" then try desperately to recall whether, for your pals, money's an issue or not. Wines by the glass are few and far between, and though the bottle price starts low it soon catches up with the neighbourhood.
Price: Meal for two, including wine and service: £150
The Independent on Sunday, 22 April
Lisa Markwell has a hit and miss meal with great steak and attention to provenance but much too big portions at Malmaison Manchester's spruced up brasserie, Smoak
By sticking to the standards, I've done best: my rib-eye steak (£28 for 350g) is superb. The cut is excellent - marbled and thick - and they've not messed it about, just Jospered it so the exterior caramelises and the meat inside is tender and a deep pink. Could have done without the slightly charred and greasy bone marrow on the side, though. Accompanying onion rings and a mac and cheese are no match for the high bar set by London's Meat Liquor, but they're decent enough and assist manfully in soaking up the Bloody Marys. My companions are kind enough to order from round the edges of the menu to test the scope, but a pan-seared duck breast with oyster sauce and citrus-sesame noodles (£17.50) is only just passable: undercooked skin, uniform grey colour, challenging texture. I should have let poor Rebecca order a steak, too, but since she is standing in for the equally long-suffering Mr M, she understands her duties.
Rating: 6/10; Price: £100 for two, with wine
By Caterer and Hotelkeeper staff
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