In search of a locals restaurant the Telegraph’s Kathryn Flett heads to Llewelyn’s in London’s Herne Hill where she finds sublime rice pudding.
Llewelyn’s is double-fronted and airy, all blonde wood and white walls and, on our visit, clearly a destination of choice for the daytime buggy-wielding brigade. It’s been a while since I’ve visited Herne Hill, and with a menu ¬including “clementine and cranberry fizz” at £7 and grilled plaice and chips at a gulp-making £16.80, it appears that the local gentrification process is now well under way.
My starter of deep-fried squid and aioli delivered the three necessities – springy squid, crunchy batter and a garlic sucker-punch – entirely successfully, while my partner’s cold roast beef on duck fat toast with horseradish and watercress was apparently “bang on”. The tender and delightfully gamy braised rabbit with bacon, pumpkin mash and salmoriglio (a punchy ¬Sicilian, garlicky, mustardy, olive-oil-based vinaigrette with bells on more usually served alongside fish) made for at least one very happy bunny – aside from supermarkets’ collective aversion, I have no idea why we don’t eat more of it.
Across the table, the “crunchy-skinned” roast bream with lentils and green sauce (I didn’t taste the sauce so the specificity of its greenness ¬remains elusive; however, my partner ventured “spinach?”) was pronounced excellent. For me, each successive course ¬improved on its predecessor – which happens rarely – so while his chocolate fondant and malt ice cream were “too chocolatey” (to which my response was “the clues were always there”), I practically vacuumed up a sublime rice pudding with crab apple jelly.
Grace Dent of the Evening Standard reviews Londrino, London Bridge. “There’s something magical, ethereal, about the food” she says in her last review for the paper.
During my first mouthfuls of fermented potato with egg yolk in Londrino, a rabidly anticipated restaurant behind London Bridge Station, I accepted this was my final Grace & Flavour dining experience.
After visiting around 500 restaurants within the M25 since 2011, these days I’m able to eat merely a few forks of this experimental Portuguese fermentation, listen to some ornate sommelier spiel, weigh up the importation costs of the art installation then divide this by chef Leandro Carreira’s rising star to get my instant conclusion. ‘It’s on for a star,’ I mutter to my guest. ‘Yes,’ he says, understanding I mean it’s on course for Michelin plaudits, because he’s a restaurant person, too.
There’s something magical, ethereal, about Leandro’s food. Some plates should arrive with Kate Bush, on a harp, screaming. A plate of sublime, buttery lobster sat with whatever the Portuguese word is for ‘crispy, much-needed, rosti-style carb-hit’. There was tons to love. The clientele at lunchtime was a bunch of miseries, but it’s early days and that’s for you people to change. Do order all three ice creams; the caraway, the caramel and vanilla and the whey and smoked honey. All of them. I rarely get het up about puddings and manage to stay objective, but in Londrino’s case, I ate them making noise like if Anthony Joshua had WhatsApped me ‘WYD’ at 2am.
Jay Rayner describes Albert’s Schloss in Manchester as a “class act” in the Observer.
Their sausages are made by a local butcher and are an impressive piece of work. The bratwurst is tight skinned, meaty and peppery in all the right places. It reaches from one end of the plate to the other. We have ours without bun, but with potato salad that has just enough bite and vinegary edge to stop it slipping into sludge. There is a crunchy sauerkraut and a big puddle of sweet savoury mustard. The £13 price tag is a lot for one sausage, less so for this complete plateful.
A skin-on fillet of pearly hake gives its all to a heap of Provençal lentils. A toasty beurre noisette sends everything on its way. Of the sides, it’s the sformato, a loaf of truffled mashed potato, with a burnished top of toasted cheese, which is the winner. As in, it completely defeats us. It’s food to get you through a siege, in a good way. There are lighter things, too: finely sliced Brussels sprouts with cranberry and chestnuts, for example, or charred branches of tenderstem broccoli with black olive aioli.
Better, by which I mean it could stand comparison with anything coming out of Britain’s grandest kitchens, is their burnt Alaska. It is served at a perfect temperature so your spoon doesn’t hit a boulder when you get through the gorgeously singed meringue. Inside is soft raspberry sorbet, at the bottom a crisp base. Bravo. We have clearly over ordered; you could fill your boots for £25 a head.
The Evening Standard’s Fay Maschler urges Claude Bosi to keep wowing customers at the iconic Bibendum restaurant in London the only way he knows how.
New (I think) are immaculately fried curlicues of chicken skin with a mayo into which the very essence of roast chicken seems to have been distilled. My chef companion is in raptures. We are less beguiled by a cone of foie gras ice cream dotted with raw cacao nibs where freezing seems to emphasise liveriness over innate richness.
I can imagine Sir Terence Conran, “the first Briton to visit France” (copyright Craig Brown), rejoicing in the presence of brains, sweetbreads and tripe on the menu. Getting into the spirit, we start with veal sweetbread with black garlic and gremolata and frog’s leg (it must have been a one-legged frog) served in a sauce of morels, chervil, hazelnuts and vin Jaune.
At lunch the following day the two first courses seem to emerge from a different kitchen. Wild garlic velouté with aged Parmesan is a bowl of sublime beauty and flavour. It could rival almost anything at Alain Passard’s L’Arpège in Paris, where it turns out Bosi has worked.
Cornish mussels in a light foam sit atop an egg-set base of baby carrots, blood orange and saffron, happily perfectly judged in colour for the shellfish as well as taste. Bread (from Hedone, says a waiter) and exceptional butter complete the picture.
Cornish cod Grenobloise — the poorer relative of turbot served in the same caper-studded sauce as in the evening — and a small leg of roast pork that crouches shyly on the magnificent trolley that on Sundays will feature beef, served with a buttery potato emulsion and three perfectly timed homely veg are the main courses.
Hattie Garlick of the Sunday Telegraph checks in with her children at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, great Milton, Oxfordshire, where food is the focus of a family-friendly stay.
The 15th-century, honey-coloured Oxfordshire manor house is a temple to fine dining, Some of its bedrooms are inspired by the Asian travels of its chef-patron Raymond Blanc – and all are individually themed some to slightly elaborate effect. Don’t book Lace, unless you want to expose yourself to some seriously awkward questions from the children concerning the “adult” art…
You won’t find a pool or gym, The ground floor is dedicated to the dining room and a series of rooms that feel like gloriously luxurious waiting rooms for its hallowed space, the grounds have been manicured into an implausibly picturesque orchard and kitchen gardens, supplying more than 90 kinds of vegetables and 70 varieties of herb to the restaurant…
It seems unwise to introduce children – messy, unpredictable, noisy – into this peaceful and precise equation, yet Le Manoir’s culinary focus extends to an almost messianic enthusiasm for converting the young to the religion of food.
Thus my mother, my two children and I – ranging in age from 65 to four – began our stay suited in chef’s whites at the hotel’s Raymond Blanc Cookery School, ready for a half-day Adult and Child course. All the dishes are designed to be quick and easy and to encourage children to try new flavours. Pan-fired salmon with bouqueterie de legumes and chervil jus, for example.
If I hadn’t seen with my own eyes the children dicing chervil and then eating it with enthusiasm…if I hadn’t witnessed them dropping vegetables that previously provoked dry-retches into a pan with a little unsalted butter and a splash of water…well, I would have snorted alongside you.
The Evening Standard’s Charlie Teather finds an escapist retreat, just an hour outside London, at Coworth Park in Ascot, Berkshire.
With stables, Mansion House rooms, suites and – of course – the Dower House, there are almost too many gorgeous spaces to choose from. For special occasions with the family, the privacy of the Dower House’s 3 bedrooms, kitchen and dining room provide the perfect option.
We stayed in a junior suite in the main Mansion House and it was faultless. Bursting with rustic charm and with a view over the 240-acre grounds, we were greeted by a four-poster bed bigger than any I’ve seen.
And while the mini bar, comfortable sofa, television and enormous wardrobe were all wonderful, it was the suite’s bathroom that sold it thanks to a roll-top copper tub sitting proudly in the middle of a spacious marble bathroom boasting private loo and shower cubicles and his and hers sinks.
With a Michelin Star in his back pocket, Restaurant Coworth Park’s executive chef Adam Smith has rendered the hotel’s gastronomic offering more special than ever. But while a menu of Braised Turbot, Lobster and Herb Crusted Lamb was no doubt tempting, a private event taking place meant we headed to the hotel’s more casual, brasserie-style restaurant.
Relaxed and rustic, The Barn is just a short stroll from the main Mansion House and adjacent to the converted stables. From the comfort of our wooden table perched just next to the roaring fireplace, we ordered our food and let the excellent sommelier choose our wine.
Perfectly fried in delicate breadcrumbs, we started with wonderfully light pork croquettes on a bed of bright green lovage mayonnaise, radish and apple. Less light – and perfectly so – was the fillet steak, which arrived alongside a hearty portion of chips and veg, as well as a mushroom sauce accompaniment almost as heavenly in richness as the subsequent steamed chocolate pudding.