Weekly round-up of the national restaurant critics by Oliver Thring, 01/11

York & Albany, Camden. Where Angela Hartnett displays 'technique by the gallon'

Welcome to this week’s round-up

The review of the week is Jay Rayner’s, visiting the York & Albany, Angela Hartnett’s hotel-cum-deli north of Regent’s Park. Pumpkin tortelli with sage leaves and beurre noisette was ‘spot on’, osso bucco with polenta was ‘the star’, and apple tatin with tonka bean ice cream ‘worked’. But, more than criticism, Jay’s piece stands as a gentle and affecting tribute to his mother.

‘Spot on’, says Giles Coren of Lumière in Cheltenham: ‘nicely lit, spaciously tabled, calm and quiet’. Venison with red cabbage was ‘honest and tasty’ and mi-cuit salmon with apple and vanilla ‘came out fine’. ‘This is a beautiful, well-run restaurant with great staff, good produce, smart wine list and a talented chef.’

A rare negative review of Trullo by Amol Rajan: ‘its menu is a series of repeated mistakes’. Salt cod with coco blanc and salsa rossa was ‘fine but unspectacular’, and tagliatelle with wild mushrooms was ‘a dullard’s delight’. Only pappardelle with beef shin ragu was ‘a bolt of magnificence’.

Tracey MacLeod appreciates ‘semi-familiar elements reprised with panache’ at Les Deux Salons. She liked snail and bacon pie and ‘indulgent’ lamb sweetbreads, while îles flottantes were ‘ambrosial’. ‘Like the Parisian brasseries it’s modelled on, Les Deux Salons is a place you could use for any occasion.’ Damn straight.

Andy Lynes is at The Portman at Marble Arch: ‘a gastronomic no man’s land’. ‘It’s a nice enough space’ but the food is grim. A crab and saffron tart was ‘woefully underseasoned’, pommes anna potato cake ‘flabby and greasy’ and rack of lamb arrived ‘virtually raw’. ‘There’s simply no excuse for this sort of half-cocked, shoddy cynicism.’

AA Gill revisits Sake No Hana, which feels like ‘a shopping arcade in Dubai’. Yakitori chicken wings were ‘sticky, bony and filthy’, beef tobin was ‘chewy and tasteless’ and seaweed salad ‘the dredgings from a terrapin’s tank’. ‘The sushi was badly made, clumsy, flabby and too warm … this could, quite easily, be the most preposterously awful restaurant in the West End.’

‘Just right’, is John Lanchester’s verdict on the revamped Ashmolean museum in Oxford, a place that’s met with a fair bit of critical scorn. Five small plates (courgette fritters, mini chorizos, devilled whitebait …) ‘would have made a decent meal in themselves’, while sardines rendered a cioppino ‘too strong’. ‘The best course was dessert’, an ‘astoundingly light yet powerful’ chocolate mousse.

Richard Godwin is at The Union Market Café. Sweet potato, spinach and feta pie was ‘serviceable’ if ‘clearly out of a tin’ (really?), and English steak ‘appealed’ at £10.95. ‘As a place to shop, it’s almost worth going to Fulham for.’

Guy Dimond has an OK meal at the ‘immodestly priced’ Owl and Pussycat in Shoreditch. ‘The menu’s ambitious and stoically British’: grilled mackerel with apple was ‘retro, yet inventive’ and ox cheek was ‘tender and flavour-packed’, if overseasoned. The place ‘needs to make the kitchen more consistent’.

And Douglas Blyde offers the first review I’ve seen of Cigalon, a brand new place on Chancery Lane. ‘Veal on the bone’ was ‘perfectly pink’ although an accompanying chickpea chip ‘evoked sofa innards’. Douglas enjoyed a half-price opening week deal, and he wonders whether the place ‘will be good enough’ when this offer is revoked.

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One Response to Weekly round-up of the national restaurant critics by Oliver Thring, 01/11

  1. Pingback: Restaurant critic digest, 01/11 | OliverThring.com

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