What's on the menu – Jay Rayner and AA Gill have differing views on Newman Street Tavern

What's on the menu – Jay Rayner and AA Gill have differing views on Newman Street Tavern
The Observer
![Newman Street Tavern](http://blogs.catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk/blogs/guide-girl/2013/06/16/Newman%20Street%20Tavern.jpg)
That crabmeat arrives mined with pebbles of rosy roe on a thick-cut piece of warm buttered toast. It is all the richest, most intense bits of the crab, with a squirt of lemon to make it decent. Another piece of toast is smeared with laverbread, that glorious Welsh seaweed gunge which has all of the iodine and umami kick of its Japanese relatives. On top are two slices of crisp-cooked, dry-cured bacon. And then, to cool everything down, a still-warm boiled gull's egg, with a yolk soft enough to be spread.
An onion tart is where the kitchen's serious chops become obvious. If I tried to make pastry as stupidly thin and delicate as this, my kitchen would be littered with debris. I would be found sobbing in a corner, covered in pastry. This is a magnificent piece of work, the shell filled with a soft-sweet stew of tangled onions.
Price: £100 for meal for two including drinks and servic
The Sunday Times
[AA Gill was served by a wonderful waitress at the Newman Street Tavern in London W1, but found the food hit and miss](http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Magazine/the_dish/article1271953.ece)
We ate almost everything on the menu, which was long on all that organic, sustainable, local-ish, handmade, diver- caught, rare-breed artisanal bollocks that British restaurants now have as padding against criticism and an aid to digestion and, on occasion, instead of culinary dexterity. The ingredients were blameless until the kitchen got involved, then it was all a bit hit and miss. Pork brawn wasn't brawn, but an inferior potted meat. An onion tart just wasn't nice, but the hand-picked crab was lovely. Suckling kid was an unusual joy to find on the menu and would have been lovely all on its own; spelt risotto isn't risotto but it does advertise all the slimy, unpleasant shortcomings of spelt. Lucas liked it, and the cured trout with pennywort — an unusual gathered herb that tastes a little like pea shoots and is also known as navelwort, a fabulously unappetising name. The kitchen comes into its own with pudding. The chef is more pâtissier than saucier. An almond tart is exemplary, Ayrshire set cream — aka panna cotta — was just set enough to quiver, like one of Juliet's breasts as the lark calls.
Rating: atmosphere 4/5, food 3/5
Price: for three without drinks, including 12.5% service, £103.50
The Guardian
[Marina O'Loughlin rediscovers her love for Italian cooking after a visit to two authentic independent restaurants in London - Terra Vergine on the King's Road, and In Parma, on Charlotte Place](http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/15/terra-vergine-restaurant-review)
![Terra Vergine](http://blogs.catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk/blogs/guide-girl/2013/06/16/Terra%20Vergine.jpg)
Rather than homogenous, non-specific "Italians" (there's no such thing as "Italian" food, of course: there's Ligurian or Aostan or Sardinian…), more and more restaurants are concentrating on one regional cuisine. Here's Terra Vergine, celebrating the cooking of the Abruzzo. The owner has restaurants in Chieti, and - laughing in the face of localism - flies everything in. To be fair, I'm not sure where you'd get castrated lamb for the arrosticini anywhere within staggering distance of the M25. These are a bit of a sensation, too. Cooked on a specially designed grill that twirls them slowly over smoke, perfuming the air as thoroughly as any ocakbasi, they are skewers of meat with an intense flavour, inching towards the pungency of good. Pallotte cac'e ove are squelchy little balls of fried cheese topped with rich tomato sauce and wafers of truffled caciotta cheese - a collection of several kinds of loveliness. The menu's rarely less than an adventure.
In Parma is largely concerned with cheese and salumi. The meats arrive sliced as finely as raw filo, silky and ripe, lapping over the large boards they're served on. Cheeses - fontina, robbiola and, of course, parmigiano - are perfectly kept, and there are vinegary little borettane onions for wrapping in fatty coppa, fleshy bresaola or majestic culatello di Zibello. If you will persist in frequenting cookie-cutter "Italians", you've only yourself to blame for a cooling of affections. After this attractive duo, I feel positively starry-eyed again.
Rating: food: 7/10, atmosphere: 6/10, value for money: 7/10
Price: £40 a head plus drinks and service
Rating: food: 7/10, atmosphere: 7/10, value for money: 7/10
Price: £30 a head plus drinks and service
Time Out
[Christine Yeo visits Baiwei in Chinatown and finds home-style Sichuan, Hunan and the north dishes served with uncommonly friendly service](http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/baiwei)
The gong bao tofu is an interesting variation on the better-known gong bao chicken. Silky pieces of pan-fried egg tofu are coated in lustrous sweet and sour sauce, then lavished with crunchy peanuts and dried chillies. Long beans are an excellent choice of vegetable for pickling, as the bean cavities nicely trap their sour brine. Here they are mixed with lightly marinated minced pork that has been fried, a pleasing contrast of flavours. Only the dan dan noodles didn't live up to expectations. Though the ground beef was satisfyingly chewy and the sauce aromatic, the Chinese alkaline noodles were limp and waterlogged.
Rating: 4/5
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service around £40
Financial Times
[Nicholas Lander is less than impressed by Rainer Becker's new restaurant, Oblix at the Shard, London SE1](http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fdfd449c-66dd-11e2-a805-00144feab49a.html#axzz2WCpA4eC3)
At Oblix they look west, not east, for inspiration to the grill restaurants of New York. And while the views are stunning, the food is rather less so. I suspect that the most important factor here is a common denominator in the disappointing meals I have experienced in several of the newer, larger London restaurants. The menus at Balthazar, Chavot, Cut, Gilbert Scott, Sushi Samba and Duck & Waffle had not been edited to play to their kitchen's strengths…The overlong menu contains several dishes that seem like padding. A yellowtail salad was the best of the starters, while ceviche was much less refined, the aubergine caviar disappointing, the roast beets alongside the goat's cheese woody. A rotisserie is used to cook the chickens and ducks, overly so in the case of the latter, and a Josper grill is the vehicle for adding flavour to cuts of meat, of which the tenderloin was the most impressive. (Alessandro) Marchesan has done an excellent job with the wine list and we drank a fascinating bottle of Barboursville Cabernet Franc 2010 from Virginia, US, for £60.
Price Meal for four, with two bottles of wine and two desserts, was £330
The Independent
[John Walsh finds quality food and great service at Des McDonald's first solo venture The Fish & Chip Shop, London N1](http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/reviews/the-fish--chip-shop-189-upper-street-islington-london-8656312.html)
The menu offers comfort-food dishes, such as fish finger or smoked saveloy butties, hot salt beef with wallys (gherkins), fish pie and shrimp burgers, but my eye went greedily to the ‘Grilling Today' section ( a nice variant on ‘Frying Tonight'). I ordered the Cornish Mixed Fish with Jersey Royals and found myself battling through a kind of non-liquid bouillabaisse: a gigantic tranche of sea bream, soft and light as a pillow, a single scallop reeking of garlic and chilli, huge tiger prawns, a nicely al dente sea trout, a meaty monkfish tail; it was all pretty faultless, but too much for one human. Angie tried the breaded scampi and pronounced it light and lovely: "Something new to me," she said, "melt-in-the-mouth scampi…"
Rating: food 4/5, ambience 4/5, service 4/5
Price: about £115 for two with wine
The Times
[Giles Coren says he he would happily go to The Fish & Chip Shop in London N1 three times a week for the rest of his life](http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/magazine/article3787595.ece)
![Fish & Chip Shop, London N1](http://blogs.catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk/blogs/guide-girl/2013/06/16/Fish%20and%20Chip%20Shop.jpg)
Pickled eggs were of quail, and not especially interesting, but the "London particular fritters" were good fun, being sort of croquetas of mushy pea and ham hock - a pun, I assume, on the "peasouper", which is the London Particular's other name (they're both fogs, Pedro). Four types of white fish were offered beer-battered and fried, the cheapest of which was a lovely piece of whiting for £8. The chips were, thank the Lord, not triple-cooked, but just nice, proper, potatoey English chip shop chips, and the fish curry was a wonderful, tomatoey monkfish curry with great basmati rice, rather Mark Hixy, like the best school curry ever.
There's loads of grilled fish for thin people, shrimp burgers, a couple of non-fish options and a tight little wine list. I dare say some people will carp at areas of inauthenticity or pretension that they think they perceive, but this is a proper bloody fish restaurant and the best thing to happen in North London since, well, the birth of my son.
Rating: 7.5/10 ( cooking 8/10, restaurant 8/10, sustainability 6.5/10)
Price: starter, fried fish, chips, glass of wine, about £25
Evening Standard
[David Sexton's meal at the Fish & Chip Shop in London N1 was enjoyable enough, but says there remains something inherently faux in pushing the chippy so far upmarket](http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/restaurants/the-fish--chip-shop-8655079.html)
As for yer actual fish an' chips, we had a moderately sized single fillet of plaice (£9.50) in quite darkly crisped but high-quality beer batter, served with an excellent fresh and capery tartare but, alas, only a thin sliver of lemon to wake it up. A little cup of chips, twice fried in rapeseed oil, was £3 extra, and a side of mushy peas, minty and bright green, tasting as though made from fresh, not frozen, let alone dried, £3 more — so you're up to £15.50, plus service, for this basic plateful. On the posher side, "organic sea trout, brown shrimp butter" (£20) was a big fillet from a whopping fish, presumably pan-fried, or part-fried and part-baked, with plenty of butter and shrimps, and some very welcome shreds of cabbage underneath (however fancy, frying soon sates you with oil).
Rating: 3/5
Price: About £100 for two
The Metro
[Andy Lynes struggles to limit his menu choices as he samples the impressive offer at Mayfields in London's Wilton Way, E8](http://metro.co.uk/2013/06/13/mayfields-is-proof-that-good-things-come-in-tiny-packages-3838456/)
They might have a tiny kitchen but on the evidence of these half dozen dishes it's one that's firing on all culinary cylinders. This is skilled, thoughtful and inventive stuff with not an ingredient too many or surfeit of needlessly flashy technique. It's cooking that runs the gamut from delicate and elegant to gutsy and robust with finesse. This might be an affordable, unpretentious sort of place (a joint venture between former Shackleton Nights supper club supremo Claire Robertson and Borough Wines) but presentation is as striking as in any three-Michelin-starred restaurant. A tartare of sirloin steak with morel mushrooms, capers and tarragon is hidden under a duvet of cold aerated potato foam (‘Smash milkshake' quips my guest) and a ‘main course' slab of pink-roasted duck with its colourful accompaniments of pickled rhubarb, carrot and hazelnut quenelles and sliced radish is laid out on the plate with artistic élan. It's one of those ‘I don't know whether to eat it or frame it' moments.
Price: £85 (meal for two with wine, water and service)
The Telegraph
[Brassierie Chavot lacks some of the glitz of other London brasseries, but marvellous food makes it a cut above its competitors, says Matthew Norman](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/restaurants/10103966/Restaurant-review-Brasserie-Chavot-London.html)
![Brasserie Chavot](http://blogs.catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk/blogs/guide-girl/2013/05/26/Brasserie-Chavot.jpg)
The problem is the quartet of brassy, cheap-looking chandeliers that run domineeringly down its centre. "It's a slightly mixed metaphor with the decor," observed the doctor, "but without the chandeliers it would be OK. They make it look like a cosmetics concession at Harrods."
Having got that off his thoracic region, and without a care for the cholesterol, the doctor kicked off with deep-fried soft shell crab, served with a nod to ironic nationalistic wit on the pages of a French newspaper atop a wooden board, alongside a bowl of whipped aioli. "This is excellent," he said. "The crab is crunchy and greaseless, and I love the intensity of the aioli with it." I will not degrade the memory of my chicken liver parfait, accompanied by a luscious fig chutney, by giving it the stock epithet of velvety. Far smoother than that, it was a poignant reminder of a time when I could almost afford to feed our resident infestation of moths on finest cashmere - and it had the delicacy of flavour to match without being remotely effete.
Rating: 4/5
Price: about £55 per head for three courses with wine and coffee
The Guardian
[Tony Naylor believes themed hotels rarely work, but finds that the Craven Heifer in Addingham, West Yorkshire, has pulled it off in style](http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2013/jun/14/craven-heifer-west-yorkshire-hotel-review)
Its seven rooms pay homage to famous Yorkshire folk - and they do it with flair and conviction. In de Havilland, named after pioneering pilot Amy Johnson's Gipsy Moth, the mirrors are rivet-edged, the chair looks like it's been liberated from a cockpit and the "wardrobe" is an airbase-style metal locker. A reproduction wing hangs above the bed. Upstairs, in the dark, romantic Captain James Cook attic room, all oak floor, ancient beams and exposed stone, one wall is clad in driftwood, the ceiling in bespoke map wallpaper. A bottle of rum sits, ready, on a huge antique writing desk. Occasionally, design trumps function: in the Henry Moore room, a towering unit that acts as desk, tea station and clothes rail is clunky. But generally, these big rooms are comfortable, luxurious even.
Price: three courses for £23-37
The Daily Telegraph
[Fiona Duncan visits the newly refurbished Pembroke Arms in Wilton, Wiltshire and finds quirky décor, good service and great value rooms and food](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/hotel/109502/Pembroke-Arms-hotel-Wiltshire-review.html)
![Pembroke Arms](http://blogs.catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk/blogs/guide-girl/2013/06/16/Pembroke%20Arms.jpg)
Christoph Brooke of Hillbrooke Hotels, which runs hotels on private estates, including the Pembroke Arms, has undertaken the interior decoration himself, together with historic paint specialist Simon Willey. Together they have created a witty pastiche of Georgian and Victorian era rooms, full of delightful quirks and even - in the bedroom called Florence - plays on words. On our visit, service was swift and charming and the bedrooms were beautifully kept. The nine bedrooms are all different, all full of character and amusing touches, and all very comfortable, especially for their price…There are fancy bedheads, excellent new beds and day beds from India in alcoves. An imaginative array of snacks, ‘Midnight Munchies' are displayed in a basket and offered for sale. My mushroom risotto was excellent, as was my fresh-tasting starter of poached salmon, watercress, prawn muffin and crème fraîche. Puddings were equally good, especially the apple pie cooked to order, with cinnamon ice cream.
Rating 8/10 (location 7/10, style 8/10, service 8/10, rooms 9/10, food & drink 8/10, value 9/10)
Price double rooms from £90, including breakfast
The Times
[Tom Chesshyre describes Greywalls in Gullance, East Lothian, as "a gorgeaous hideaway with first-rate food"
(The bedrooms are) cosy, comfortable and stylish. Beds are wide, with high-quality linen and natty olive-green headboards. Smart tartan chairs sit beside ornate wooden wall-panels depicting oriental scenes. The bathrooms are small, muted in colour and come with Molton Brown toiletries. DVD players are provided on demand, and there's a library of films (including Braveheart, naturally). With Albert Roux as the consultant chef, expect a high standard; yet prices are reasonable, £29.50 for three courses. There's a French classical slant and polished service from friendly waiters. We started with asparagus with a crispy crumble-covered egg and chorizo, and chicken liver paté with apple and prune chutney, and toasted sour dough. The main of Angus beef with a red wine jus, mushrooms and a purée of carrots was packed with flavour. But the best was saved for last: shortbread with rhubarb and a superb ginger ice cream.
Rating: 8/10
Price: B&B doubles from £275; three courses from £29.50
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