Review of the reviews… what the critics say about L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon and others

01 November 2006
Review of the reviews… what the critics say about L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon and others

The Times, 28 October
Giles Coren has only a few complaints at the L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, London WC2

There was an amuse (of course) of foie gras in a shot glass sealed with a port reduction and topped with a pale, eggy foam. And it wasn't just the crappy slug of goose gack I'm used to. There was aubergine mash - they call it a caviar, I'd call it a baba ganoush - that sat in a little moat of perfect gazpacho with deep-fried courgette cross-sections studded into it, which were perhaps a little daft. If anything, some of the presentation here is a teensy bit puerile - as if it has been done for dollies by a precocious seven-year-old girl. (Rating: 7.67/10. Meal for two, £150)

The Observer, 29 October
Jay Rayner feasts at the Rivington Grill, London EC2

The culinary credo here is easily understood: it's lack of adornment. If it's part of the dish it's there for a reason. They don't garnish. They don't present. They plate. So I had those devilled kidneys, in a deep, sticky meaty sauce which was sweet and salty and spicy all at the same time and which provided a solid platform for the offal tang. They sat lined up, on a long oval of toast, in the middle of a white expanse of plate, like passengers on a boat sailing for shore. They never got there. I ate them. We tried a green herb salad, full of leaves so baby they hadn't even teethed, with the farmyard punch of goats' cheese and the crunch of walnuts. We had soft suckling pig with crisp crackling and apple sauce, and a roast red-leg partridge presented whole, with spears of honey-roast parsnips and a landslide of thick, clove-rich bread sauce. (Meal for two, including wine and service, £90)

The Sunday Times, 29 October
AA Gill visits the Wallace Collection and Oliver Peyton's restaurant in London W1

For a main course, the Blonde has cod with cocoa bean, tomato confit and ham. Cod now being officially extinct, I had lamb , and our friend Grant went for a pork chop with gherkin and onion sauce. Pork chops have become an endangered-menu species, their habitat taken over by global Italianisation and the ubiquitous veal chop. This food is old-fashioned, provincial French bistro. It has been organised by the estimable Oliver Peyton, who seems to have found his niche in museums. I must say, it's really very, very good indeed, reasonably priced and daintily served. If the gallery were open, the Wallace Collection would be the best first-date venue in London. As it is, go for lunch - or on a weekend evening, with a sure shag. (Rating: 4/5)

The Independent on Sunday, 29 October
Terry Durack eats at another pan-Asian "skinny" restaurant, Atami, London SW1

When I am served some spanking super-fresh fish - a new-style sashimi of very fine, paper-thin slices of sea bass (£9.75) - it is thrown off course by a shiso vinaigrette that is unbalanced and oily. Next, two pieces of sweet potato tempura (£2.40) are so thickly battered they could have come from the nearest chippy. The best thing of the night is a hot starter of marble beef (£13.50); thin raw slices of beautifully aged, thinly sliced, and meltingly tender meat dressed in hot oil and lemon soy. But it's tiny. Eveything is tiny. At this rate, I will be tiny, too. And drunk, for I have ceased to take into account the minuscule food portions and have been tossing back a well-priced, sushi-friendly New Zealand St Clair Sauvignon Blanc (£24) fragrant with gooseberry, lime and passion fruit. (Rating: 12/20. Meal for two, £120, including drinks and service)

Time Out, 1 November
Guy Dimond visits the new revitalised Odette's in Primrose Hill, London, now under the direction of music and nightclub impresario Vince Power and chef Bryn Williams

The new Odette's is in safe hands, if our meal was anything to go by. We tried the pan-fried turbot, as served at the Queen's banquet. Lucky her. Turbot and bacon is a classic French combination, but bacon had to be substituted as many of the banquet guests would not eat pork. Its replacement is a piece of oxtail, which elevates the dish to sublime: the turbot is robust enough to cope with the rich and intensely flavoured oxtail, and pairing them is a stroke of genius. Add a light sauce of cockles and their juice plus a little crème fraîche, and voilà, you have a new classic dish. (Rating: 5/6. Meal for two with drinks, £99)

Metro, 1 NovemberMarina O'Loughlin can't get enough of Odette's on Regents Park Road, NW1

I love the new look, sort of expensive rent-boy boudoir. And while Hill-ites might mourn the mirrors, they can only celebrate the demise of Odette's previous menu of smug incompetence. Bryn Williams is a first-rate cook with a real flair for gutsy memorable dishes. I loved my venison: scarlet velvety collops with a cake made from crisped-up shoulder, all bathed in a meat juice cleverly va-voomed with just the right amount of dark chocolate. (4/5 stars)

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