Review of the reviews – what the critics say about St Alban and others

06 December 2006
Review of the reviews – what the critics say about St Alban and others

Metro, 6 DecemberMarina O'Loughlin visits Jeremy King and Chris Corbin's St Alban in Rex House, London

Finally, after many, many years, I think I'm over my infatuation with Messrs Jeremy King and Chris Corbin. For a while I took to using The Wolseley like some people use Starbucks. Oh, it's not that St Alban is bad. Far from it. It's just that I am no longer interested in having to turn investigative journalist in order to find a telephone number. Naturally, our photographers weren't allowed inside. So you only have my description to go by: Stiff + Trevillion of Wagamama fame have whipped up a confection that's part first class airport lounge, part Los Angeles networking parlour and wholly a study in making you feel insignificant. Still, you want the food story? All right then, I'll tell you. It's Italian with Iberian flourishes. But really, so what? You won't be going there for dinner, you'll be going to see if you can rub metaphorical shoulders with Jude or Gwynnie. We had a laugh and a decent dinner. (A meal for two with einw, water and service costs about £120. Three out of five stars).

The Independent, 2 December
Thomas Sutcliffe enjoys the gothic decor as much as the food at Found, London

The menu offers a promising set lunch that includes English revival dishes such as smoked eel pie ‘n' mash, as well as tweaked brasserie standards, such as black truffle omelette. We started on the à la carte menu with a Castelluccio lentil salad and a Jerusalem artichoke soup. I suspect the soup dashed into the microwave to prepare for our encounter, but its flavour was good and the little scraps of fried foie gras floating on the surface a good match for the nutty flavour of the vegetable. I ordered my Galloway rump steak between rare and medium-rare, [and] it arrived in precisely the condition I'd wanted it. If I were quibbling I would have said the jus was a bit clumsily seasoned, but then I didn't feel like quibbling after tasting the excellent oyster beignets that came with the steak. (Lunch for two, with four glasses of wine, £95 including service)

The Observer, 3 DecemberJay Rayner finds food perfection in London at the former River Café head chef's new restaurant, Theo Randall at the InterContinental

This restaurant served me the best meal I have eaten all year. We knew we were in for a good time when a plate of antipasti arrived, starring pieces of grilled onion squash, which had the even texture of butter and the pure vegetal sweetness one seeks but so rarely finds. My lovely starter of tender curls of squid with anchovies, chopped parsley and fresh cannellini beans, cooked to retain their bite, was completely trumped by my companion's plate of warm vegetables - carrots and red peppers, Swiss chard, and artichokes, both Jerusalem and globe - draped with bagna caude, that intense, dark, savoury sauce of anchovies and garlic. (Meal for two, with wine, £140)

The Sunday Telegraph, 3 DecemberZoe Williams dines at Fig in north London, a restaurant converted from the front room of a Victorian semi

I had the "two serves of foie gras: smoked timbale, and pan-fried with chocolate and curry" (£7.50). The pan-fried one had a wonderful moussey interior and none of that stringiness which is about the only thing that can go wrong with seared foie gras. The chocolate and curry was decidedly understated, more of a colour reference than a taste. My Gressingham duck breast (£14.50) arrived a delicate pink, sliced lengthways, with walnuts, diced parsnips, chestnuts and a coffee-and-liquorice jus. The meat was tasty; the walnuts were young and self-effacing. The coffee and liquorice intensified the dish and made it more savoury. The puds were probably the most experimental of the dishes. Some bits were alarmingly good, such as a white chocolate jelly; other bits were just wilful, the "rye tuile" on the banana terrine (£4.80) just a really thinly sliced bit of rye bread. (Rating: seven and a half out of 10)

The Independent on Sunday, 3 DecemberTerry Durack likes the pork but not the puddings at Bumpkin, London

To begin, a wooden plank lands on every table, with a bowl of rough pork rillettes, apple chutney and rye bread. It's good, gutsy and generous, but had I known it was coming, I might not have ordered the roast pork with apple sauce to follow. Then again, I probably would have anyway. The full-flavoured pork comes with good lengths of crackling that actually crackle, and a dark brown gravy. Puds come, too, although both a sticky date pudding and a chocolate and macadamia brownie feel overcooked and heavy. (Dinner about £110 for two, including wine and service)

Time Out, 6 DecemberGuy Dimond goes to Acorn House, an eco-restaurant in London's King's Cross

The meat is supplied by top butcher Ginger Pig. A shame, then, that our pork chop was slightly underdone; we had to send it back. Main courses like this come with a choice of two or three salads. These salads are inventive: cabbage, raisin and cardamom could be paired with grilled leeks, salsify and chives. There can be a tendency for "worthy" food to be a bit stolid, but we found our dishes here appealing and varied in texture, taste and appearance. Pan-fried farmed salmon was luscious and perfectly moist, though the pearl barley broth was perhaps not the ideal accompaniment. (Meal for two, about £25)

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