Review of Reviews: 11 May 2006

11 May 2006
Review of Reviews: 11 May 2006

The Evening Standard, London, 3 May
Fay Maschler finds a piece of hot heaven at Bar Shu in London's West End

Sichuan (or Szechwan) food is not unknown in London, but this new Soho restaurant is in a different league from anything that has gone before. If you don't like chillies, you probably won't find Bar Shu a very rewarding place to eat, but heat is not really the point here. It is more about the layering of flavours and the alchemic effect that the consumption of one dish can have on the appreciation of another. Among the more flamboyant assemblies that are ankle-deep in Sichuan "facing-heaven" chillies, there are other dishes which have a mellow, melting effect summed up as "lychee flavour", and soothing items such as the soups. We tried two. One comprised beef balls in a delicate broth and the other was of chicken with silver ear fungus and medicinal milk vetch root. They were superb, the latter quite eerily delicious and managing to achieve a singular kind of liquescence. (Rating: four stars out of five)

The Daily Telegraph, 6 May
Jan Moir is disappointed with her lunch at Olga Polizzi's Hotel Endsleigh in Milton Abbot, Devon

There's [a] main course of saddle of lamb with chervil root, roast aubergine purée, braised lamb shoulder and boring old bulgur wheat. This turns out to be a clockface of elements on a messy plate that collapses and looks like a student chow-down dinner in seconds.

Sure, the slices of lamb shoulder are fine, but it all seems a bit desperate, as if it were cooked by someone wearing a bandanna and a faraway expression as he rifled through what was left in the store cupboard. The odd thing about our disappointing dinner is that an earlier Sunday lunch here was so good it made me wonder if the same chef (and accountant!) were responsible. (Lunch for two, excluding drinks and service, £52)

The Sunday Times, 7 MayRod Liddle would rather his sense of taste were blacked out along with the restaurant at Dans le Noir in London's Clerkenwell

What's the point of Dans le Noir, you may well be asking. The answer seems to be twofold: by depriving the diner of sight, it is hoped that his or her other senses will be heightened; it also enables sighted people to empathise with nonsighted people. But at Dans le Noir, you do not wish for your other senses to be heightened; you would quite like to be deprived of them, too. Especially your sense of taste.

My main course was fricassee of chicken and smoked mashed potato, one of the most unpleasant dishes I think I have ever eaten: a huge gloop of pulverised spud with the flavour of burnt rubber, underneath which resided some chunks of fried chicken and the occasional red pepper. (Rating: one star out of five)

The Independent on Sunday, 7 MayTerry Durack thinks that Beauberry House, with its Japanese-French fusion menu, in Dulwich, south London, should be better than it is

The journey from menu to table can be a rocky one. Nori-wrapped tuna spring rolls are done in the modern Jean-Georges Vongerichten style, but are served at blood temperature, the tuna itself being unattractively dark instead of pink and glistening. A structured main course of a plug of rare, round Charolais beef served with a beaker of sancho pepper sauce and a kindling pile of fat, soft "sumo" chips is fair but dull. What is the matter with this place? The menu grabs the eye, but turns out to be amateurish fusion food. (Rating: 10 out of 20. Dinner for two, including wine and service, about £120)

The Observer, 7 MayJay Rayner checks out the latest addition to the Paul Heathcote empire, the Winckley Square Chophouse in Preston, Lancashire

There is a whiff of corporate about the place. But the staff are friendly and the food is built on solid principles. A tranche of confit salmon, still just warm, came with a strident potato salad, cut with red onions and capers and nothing else. It didn't need anything else. For my main course I chose the mixed grill, a special, and it was splendid. First up was Heathcote's own black pudding, made with solid pieces of fibrous ham hock, to remind you of where the blood came from. There was a crisped piece of gammon, and some fine, flavourful pieces of steak. It was dense and chewy and spoke of life well lived on a grassy hill. (Meal for two £80, including wine and service)

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