Reviews: Kathryn Flett has fun at Jo Allen while Marina O’Loughlin visits Le Colombier for her first review in the the Sunday Times

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Jo allen

The Telegraph’s Kathryn Flett awards five stars to London’s Jo Allen having found that it has retained its fun despite losing its original site.

Rather like America itself in 2017 – making its journey from 1965’s Mad Men to today’s madmen, if you will – the new Joe Allen looks entirely familiar while also being utterly different – a feeling made more poignant by my lunch date with Joe falling the day after the Las Vegas shootings. But I’m happy to help you out, US pals: this week, I’ll be judging you entirely on your off-menu burgers and pecan pie.

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Reviews: Marina O’Loughlin has an almost pitch-perfect meal at the Quality Chop House while Tony Turnbull doesn’t feel the love at Core

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chop house

In her last review for the Guardian, before she takes over as critic at the Sunday Times, Marina O’Loughlin has an almost pitch-perfect meal at the Quality Chop House on Farringdon Road in London.

For this, my last review for the Guardian, I’m taking the opportunity offered by an adjustment in ownership and kitchen rethink to retrace my steps of a few years ago to The Quality Chop House. Fortunately, the extraordinary, wood-pewed, tiled-floor interior from its days as a “Progressive Working Class Caterer” is listed and can’t change. If it were down to me, they should also slap a listing on Shaun Searley: that rarest of creatures, a supremely talented chef who appears to be ego-free. Any grandstanding he might feel like doing ends up on the plate, to the ultimate joy and benefit of the diner, not the glorification of the kitchen.

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Reviews: Marina O’Loughlin can’t find much to shout about at Flavour Bastard while Giles Coren gets happy at Lorne

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Flavour Bastard

Flavour Bastard, London W1: “There’s me thinking Sexy Fish was as bad as it got” says Marina O’Loughlin of the Guardian.

The name? Brace yourselves: it’s Flavour Bastard. Roll that around your tongue: flaaavour baaastaard. And there’s me thinking Sexy Fish was as bad as it got.

Here’s the “remove rules and traditions” (their words) bastardry in full flow: South Indian-style white lentil vada (“doughnuts”) with Spanish chorizo and Italian pecorino. Oh, the wackiness: fan me, for I fear an attack of the vapours. Is it an improvement on conventional medu vada? Stodgy and salty and sickly, it is not. Or this bobby dazzler: roast sweet potato (served cold), glooped with fennel-flavoured yoghurt, sunflower seeds, a lot of coriander and quantities of damp chillied popcorn – a kind of mutant chaat that’s saying nothing of any interest.

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Quo Vadis and Friends launches this month

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Quo vadis

Quo Vadis in Soho is to host Quo Vadis and Friends: 5 Easy Pieces on 18 October, which will see four chefs join chef patron Jeremy Lee in the kitchen.

Lee will be cooking with Jackson Boxer of Brunswick House, Merlin Labron-Johnson from Portland, James Lowe of Lyle’s and Tim Spedding ex-Clove Club.

Tickets are priced at £64, including a welcome cocktail. They are available here: https://quovadis5easypieces.eventbrite.co.uk

Formerly a brothel and a home to Karl Marx, Quo Vadis is a historic Soho restaurant and members’ club. The restaurants serve seasonal, regional British food, with a menu conjured up daily by Jeremy Lee and his team.

Quo Vadis has two private dining rooms and a private members’ club, with two bars and its own restaurant.

Reviews: Grace Dent doesn’t get on with Mother while Michael Deacon is inspired by Ikoyi

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Mother

Grace Dent of the Evening Standard feels little in the way of kinship with Mother in Battersea…

Mother, which has set up in newly titivated Battersea Power Station, feels like a bit of a trek just to taste Copenhagen’s slant on sourdough pizza.

There are some things in Mother’s favour: it is in a cavernous glass-fronted arch, like a mini aircraft hangar. One could take large groups there to feast on its enormo-benches and sharing tables. In the summer it’s airy, opened-up and feels deeply European. Inside on an evening it’s nicely lit by candlelight, if your Botox is sliding. And it has an expensive sound system. I can attest to this as on a calm Tuesday evening the manager kept putting on Pink Floyd and turning it up really, really loud.

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Reviews: Jay Rayner has a slice of Italy at Da Maria while Michael Deacon has a surprising experience at the Wigmore

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Da Maria

Jay Rayner of the Observer reviews Da Maria: “This tiny outpost of Naples is the pride and joy of Notting Hill. Now comes the terrible news that it is under threat.”

Da Maria on London’s Notting Hill Gate is not much to look at, literally. It is less a fully fledged restaurant than a strip-lit, table-laid cupboard. It looks like a sandwich bar with ambitions above its station, which is exactly what it is. The space did once just knock out sandwiches. Then the Ruocco family arrived and in 1980 opened it as a Neapolitan trattoria.

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Reviews: Fay Maschler is underwhelmed by Flavour Bastard while the Straight and Narrow hits the right notes for Jay Rayner

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Steak tartare with ginger, garlic, chilli & tamarind_1

Fay Maschler of the Evening Standard reviews Flavour Bastard where she is decidedly underwhelmed.

Hi, guys. Welcome to Flavour B******. When you get the bill you will see that we cross out the printed words “Authenticity, Ceremony, Rules” and substitute the printed words “Flavours, Idea, Fun”. Whaddaya think guys? You will probably want to order five or six tiny, small or slightly larger plates each and they will be sent out from the kitchen at any old time it suits them.

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Seven of Brighton’s top chefs to collaborate for pop-up charity event

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Chefs' Table

The Grand Brighton has announced it will be hosting the first Brighton Chefs’ Table, bringing together seven of the city’s leading chefs in support of Brighton-based charity Rockinghorse.

Taking place on Thursday 19 October chefs Alan White of GB1; Steven Edwards from etch; Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees; Alun Sperring from Chilli Pickle; Dan Kenny of the Set; Andy Vitez from Drakes; and a chef (yet to be confirmed) from the Hotel Du Vin Bistro will come together to cook for two tables- chosen at random by the Grand Brighton’s general manager, Andrew Mosley.

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Reviews: Kathryn Flett is disappointed by Mother while Giles Coren revises his opinion of Xu

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Mother

Writing in the Telegraph, Kathryn Flett is disappointed by the soggy-based pizza made with Italian seawater on offer at Mother Battersea Power Station, London.

Underneath a railway arch – a slice of blessed Victorian artisanal integrity – we find Mother, the first UK outpost of a hip Danish pizza chain – a (forgive me) Scandizza joint. Why it has chosen to open here, in Shanghai-on-Thames, via Copenhagen and Napoli, I cannot fathom but it looks kind of groovy: a vast vaulted space with huge folding doors, a curvaceous bar and two big pizza ovens.

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Reviews: Fay Maschler has a mixed experience at Clare Smyth’s Core; Giles Coren reviews the School House in Devon

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Core

The Evening Standard’s Fay Maschler has a mixed experience at Clare Smyth’s new Notting Hill restaurant Core

“A canapé tart of exquisite brittleness holding a confection of smoked tomato tartare with macadamia nuts and black olive seeds, as much a work of art as desserts of pain perdu — lost inside a glassy sugar shell — with peaches and the chocolate and hazelnut crémeux, are presumably the handiwork of Kevin Miller, as the pastry chef is called.

“Now is probably the appropriate moment to invoke the life-affirming malty sourdough bread offered with ‘virgin’ Isle of Wight butter — also bought by Noma apparently — and the zingy passion fruit red Cambodian kampot pepper pâté de fruit that ends the meal on a jubilant note.

“On the CV of head chef Jonny Bone is Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York. This venture, where the aim is to raise consciousness about responsible, virtuous food use and the menu is $258 (£201) excluding ‘beverage’ and tax, reverberates in Core.

“Protein is found almost taking a backseat to vegetables in main courses of Charlotte potato and lamb braised carrot. This works quite well with the spud from Chris Hayselden’s Suffolk Farm, although innate sweetness beats a retreat under copious topping of fish roe, recherché herbs and spices and the sauce of seaweed beurre blanc.

“Seaweed is a generally a favoured ingredient, turning up to remind the hand-dived Isle of Mull scallop cooked over wood where it has come from. The carrot, however, is a sorry specimen and attention turns quickly to the little bun stuffed with shreds of lamb presented alongside. A pool of sheeps’ milk yoghurt has turned up at the wrong party. “Roscoff onion expertly stuffed with rich oxtail and its accompaniment of sliced beef short rib tips the balance back in favour of meat.” Continue reading