The Evening Standard’s Grace Dent heads to Giggsy and Nevillesy’s Cafe Football at Westfield Stratford but finds herself giving the food a red card
“There’s nothing I don’t love about this concept. Except, that is, the food. I am mystified by what I was fed, particularly as the website gushes of ‘great, handmade food’ that can be enjoyed by ‘football fans and foodies alike’. A starter of The Treble pies was a miserable array of microwaved limp pastry, which we had to cross-reference with the menu to ascertain the filling. The tiny pies arrived steaming in a cardboard frame, fresh from the microwave. Some spindly, chewy, formerly frozen salt and pepper squid arrived lying on a bed of supposed spring onion and coriander dressing. So far this was the perfect storm of bad produce and uninterested kitchen assembly staff.”
Michael Caines is one of the most inspirational chefs in Britain, says The Independent’s Amol Rajan, but he finds that the food at Abode Exeter is not worthy of Caines’ lofty reputation.
Though the starters were disappointing, Rajan’s mains were more successful. He says: “The lunch menu is, thank goodness, otherwise decent. A fillet of sole comes with excellent parsley gnocchi, mushrooms, peas and broad beans in the right proportions; and the lamb rump with Lyonnaise potatoes – sliced, pan-fried, and served with a caramelised onion purée – is full of hearty and warming flavour. The meat comes apart in hot, tender ribbons, and the potatoes are al dente ideal.”
The Observer’s Jay Rayner checks out the food at healthy high street sous-vide cooking concept Suchef in London’s St Paul’s and says there’s just one problem – the food isn’t very nice.
“God. Where to start? First, there’s lots not to like about sous vide,” writes Rayner, who likens the raw mushy texture to baby food. “You can make all the claims you like for your cooking method and its nutritional value. But if the food isn’t very nice, why bother?”
The Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin goes to the new Barrafina in London’s Adelaide Street and won’t be giving up her seat in a hurry.
“Of course, you don’t have to eat as much as we do, but that would be to miss out on a truly sybaritic eating experience,” she writes. “The food is sensational. How, genuinely, do you get chicken wings with this combination of juicy flesh and crisped skin crust? Add a Canarian-inspired mojo picón sauce – sharp, peppery, spiked with fennel seeds – and watch me swoon.”
D&D’s first opening outside London, Crafthouse in Leeds, “feels like a ghostly colony of a former imperial power with mission creep”, according to The Independent’s Tracey Macleod.
A breaded duck egg is “still flumey with uncooked albumen” and spinach pancake is served “swimming in wallpaper-paste bechamel rank with uncooked flour”. However, her devilled veal kidneys deliver “some decent, well-balanced flavours”.
The Rat Inn at Anick, Hexham, is a gastropub “from nose to tail”, according to The Telegraph’s Tim Auld.
“For my main course I had peppered local steak, roasted tomato, watercress and chips (£13.95). One of the basic tests of a chef is, of course, whether he or she can cook a steak to a T and my rump (so to speak) didn’t disappoint,” writes Auld. “The creamy mustard sauce brought a sweet and savoury bite. Herb-roasted chicken breast, peperonata, feta and olives (£13.95) was a good choice for summer. The chicken had a lovely sagey crust, and the peperonata and olives lent a Mediterranean sparkle.”
Fay Maschler, also in the Evening Standard, says that in a particularly unprepossessing stretch of Hammersmith, Toro Gordo transports the diner to a mythical place where Spain meets Asia.
“Best from the Pescado & Marisco and Carnes sections are gambas pil pil, in which the sauce for the prawns seems to be deeply infused with smoked garlic; pulpo al toro, moody sliced octopus on house guacamole; huevos rotos con foie, a paso doble of flavours and textures, the different softnesses of fried egg and sautéed duck liver accentuated by a smattering-scattering of straw potatoes. I am not sure why we ask for asparagus — not in season in the UK. It is probably in order to have a token green. Churros for dessert, crisp-edged and cleanly fried, with dark chocolate sauce supply a happy ending.”
Tom Chesshyre of The Times highly recommends the newly refurbished Lord Crewe Arms in Blanchland, County Durham, one time Abbot’s house to the village’s 12th century abbey.
He explains that the bedrooms are spread over the main building, the former Angel pub across the street, and a row of old miners’ cottages. “The furnishings are comfortable: cushy sofas, wide beds, good showers and soft carpets. The look is rustic but not fuddy-duddy with shades of green and carefully-selected antiques.”
Meanwhile, head chef Simon Hick makes good use of local ingredients: “I went for a whole grouse with rowan berry sauce, bread sauce, game chips and buttered courgettes. It was a great spread, with the grouse perfectly pink — washed down with a good glass of pinot noir, well chosen by the restaurant manager.”
Writing in the Daily Mail about a recent spa weekend, Emma Creamer says that Alexander House in Turners Hill, West Sussex, may well be uber-posh, but it is also “incredibly friendly and welcoming”.
“The rooms have all the mod-cons that you might wish for – a flatscreen TV, state-of-the-art coffee machine and underfloor heating in the bathroom,” she says.
“The subterranean Utopia spa is stunning – built in the style of a Roman bathhouse, with lots of marble and granite, finished off with mood lighting and luscious relaxation spaces. There are more than 50 treatments on offer here, some of them developed specifically for the hotel – so you are bound to find something a bit different. There is also a gorgeously refreshing indoor pool (ie – at a temperature that doesn’t feel like you’re getting into a bath, which I hate), complete with a waterfall feature.”