Marina O'Loughlin says Mark Hix's Tramshed, London EC2, where chicken and steak are on the menu, is a train wreck
The shtick here is the brazier-hot, limited-choice menu: can you guess what it is yet? The huge Hirst Cow and Chicken cartoon offers a further clue: yep, beef or roast chicken. There's starters but you must order them all: a vast, pneumatic Yorkshire pudding with "whipped chicken livers", an adjective that suggests fluffy and buttery rather than this stiff, granular, underseasoned little dollop. There's a smoked fish salad - the fish is unmemorable, I've forgotten it - with "landcress" (like a less flavourful watercress). Only some delicious, lemony-marinated artichoke hearts really do the job. The steak is good ("We serve it medium rare", says our server. They're big on telling you how it is: the menu also demands no photographs). But it's not brilliant and, for this money, I want brilliant. Our poussin for one is a dry little beastie, about enough meat on it to feed a toddler. The chickens are presented as they're roasted, impaled on a specially spiked dish, their legs wiggling tragically in the air. I try sucking on a claw. It reminds me of when I used to be able to bite my own toenails.
Price: A meal for two with wine and two cocktails, about £140
The Sunday Times
AA Gill has a very good evening at Garnier, London SW5, where the menu offers the kind of French bourgeois food that is so endangered
The Blonde and James shared a côte de boeuf with béarnaise, Bella had the veal with courgettes. There was good, cold red wine by the glass from a generous list. They are particularly proud of their specially imported fridges, which keep both red and white at the perfect temperature. Dessert was vanilla ice-cream with hot chocolate and almonds, an excellent parfait of strawberries, crêpe suzette that was eye-rollingly sweet, and a crème brûlée that was a touch overcooked. I'm going to give Garnier five stars for food - first, because it's very good and deserves it, but also because it's the sort of neighbourhood restaurant that we all dream about finding at the bottom of the street, and most of its customers will walk there. (If you think this is self-serving, let me tell you: going back to a restaurant you've given a good review to is even more embarrassing than one you've slated.) The prices are weekday reasonable, an average of about £10 for a starter and less than £20 for most main courses.
Rating: Food: 5/5; Atmosphere: 3/5
The Independent on Sunday
Amol Rajan has a brilliant meal at the Castle House hotel in Hereford and says Claire Nicholls is a versatile, inventive head chef who deserves greater recognition and respect
There is a seven-course tasting menu for £50 where they don't tell you what will be served. You have to just trust the chef, which is fine by us. First up is a crab-and-potato tian with quail egg and paprika aioli, all of it excellent. Then there is a broccoli and Shropshire blue soup, which is thick, hot and aromatic; and then there is a ham hock-and-asparagus terrine, with a piccalilli, watercress and apple salad. The little segments of apple are both crunchy and juicy, though the piccalilli could have done with a bit more turmeric. The ham is very good. Parts of this menu and the à la carte betray the Asian influences Nicholls acquired when her father, who was in the Army Air Corps, was posted to Hong Kong during her childhood. So next, we have a sea trout with Bombay potatoes and a ginger and coriander sauce. The sea trout is excellent: firm and flavoursome.
Price: About £130 for two, including a bottle of wine
Despite a table of 12 hungry food nerds, a 999 emergency call and ingredients running out, the team at the Broad Chare in Newcastle upon Tyne serves up a very good dinner, says Jay Rayner
For bravery under fire like this alone, I'd give the Broad Chare a massive round of applause. But on top of this the food is good and, in places, very good. A vast pie of long-braised venison in a rich and sticky stock thickened with pig's trotter - there are few stews that will not benefit from the early addition of a foot - under a glazed and shiny shortcrust pastry shell, enough to feed three for £33, was a truly glorious thing. Newcastle's tourist bus tour should add a stop so that people could gaze down adoringly at that pie - as we did before scoffing the lot. There was a Welsh rarebit with a solid mustardy kick. There were rounds of bubble and squeak with fried duck eggs - HP Sauce on the side - and an especially good disc of black pudding. It was a light and fluffy affair and the advertised fiery kick was not shy. We cooed over that, too. Downstairs in the bar there are various bits of crisped pig - skin and ears - to nibble upon, alongside hand-raised pork pies and oysters from Lindisfarne. Similarly the menu mentions famed kippers from nearby Craster and cheese from Brinkburn.
Price: Meal for two, including drinks and service, £65
The London Evening Standard
Fay Maschler appreciates the cocktails and service but not so much the food at the Heliot restaurant at the Hippodrome Casino, London W1
The theme at Heliot is comfort food. The only raw meat is steak tartare served with fried duck egg, watercress and mustard dressing. To underline the approach there is a menu section headed Comfort from which you might order corned beef hash, meatballs and spaghetti, Millionaire's Mac'n'Cheese (with black truffle) or kedgeree pot, as I did. It was well made but definitely needed the extra bit of verve supplied by Indian tomato chutney. From Talk of the Town (which the building was once called), lobster fish fingers for £19 didn't really work since with such a thick carapace of fried crumbs any white fish would have been okay. And so bready were the fingers that the accompanying triple-cooked chips were an overload. Veal Holstein was also pummelled into submission by its coating and the use of silvery marinated anchovies was a solecism. Away from the breadcrumbs, Classic Burger was a handsome, well-assembled beast. Rib-eye on the bone at £28 for 350g was more expensive than at Hawksmoor and not as good.
Price: A meal for two with wine, about £135
By Kerstin Kühn
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