Jay Rayner also rates the restaurant that can seemingly do no wrong in the critics’ eyes, likening Som Saa in London’s Shoreditch to the ‘friendliest slap around the chops’. Jan naem is ‘one of the best things ever done to the minced end of a pig’, duck soup is the ‘flavour of Technicolor, all hot and sour loveliness’, and a salad of pork and prawn is ‘like a breath of cool air… bright and fresh’.
Offshoot of their mother site in Haggerston, no-reservations Berber & Q Shawarma Bar on Exmouth Market presented an ‘about right’ 45-minute wait for a table for Giles Coren. Shawarma lamb is ‘raucous’ and rostisserie chicken is ‘throbbing with juice and heat’, while blackened aubergine is ‘chocolaty and smooth’ and the range of pickles ‘wonderful’.
Fay Maschler finds the selling points lie in the ‘sweetness of the greeting and the service generally’ at Samarkand on Charlotte Street. The two stars awarded are for ‘the cooking’, as Maschler and her guests sample a lunch of ‘clunky and drab’ beef and lamb dumplings and ‘polite’ ribs with an ‘absence of much garlic, chilli or spices’. More positive is calves’ liver shashlik: ‘the highlight of all items tried’.
After opening to ‘bubbling praise, Blandford Comptoir had ‘distinctly lost its fizz’ by the time Grace Dent visits. Service is ‘upbeat and helpful’, and the first course is ‘outstanding’: a ‘remarkable’ courgette flower with goat’s curd. Though the meal ‘takes a turn’: lamb lacking in ‘oomph’ is joined by unseasoned, ‘wallpaper paste’ polenta, and frangipane tart is ‘cold, dry and separating’.
Perched on a ‘minute brick-walled roof’, AA Gill concludes ‘comfort isn’t high on the to-do list at Casita Andina. Pulled pork and liver croquetas are ‘mouthfuls of unctuous, intensely meaty pig’, violet potatoes are ‘perfectly nice’, and a ‘decent effort’ is made to ‘resuscitate interest in a cauliflower’. In short this is an ‘interesting and unusual’ menu, and with 2 dishes for £10, ‘probably the best value for different, well-made food… in Soho’.
Where some of our favourite bloggers have been eating recently:
— Kian Lee (@genuiness) September 22, 2016
— Lucy Pinkstone (@DeterminedDiner) September 19, 2016