Critic & Blogger Review Roundup 6th January 2017

Jay Rayner

The Holy Birds

The Holy Birds
Image source: Sophia Evans for the Observer

‘It’s hard to hate’ chicken, says Jay Rayner, but at The Holy Birds in Shoreditch, they manage to serve ‘disappointment fashioned from calories’. Duck fat roast potatoes are ‘overcooked… drenched in the greasiest bit of the duck’, and the main-event chicken is ‘floppy’ and ‘tastes of salt’. Pork & goose terrine ‘tastes of almost nothing’ and pigeon pastille are ‘dry’ and ‘bland’. The fact that most of us know what ‘makes a good [roast chicken]… means there is nowhere to hide’.

Marina O’Loughlin

The Laughing Heart

The Laughing Heart
Image source: Sophia Evans for the Guardian

Marina O’Loughlin notes how the owner of Hackney Road’s The Laughing Heart, Charlie Mellor, is ‘here to show you the absolute best of times’. Part of the ‘new breed of wine bars’ having a ‘starry moment’, the place serves ‘proper cooking’ alongside its wines. She enjoys ‘silky’ chicken-liver paté that’s a ‘great, great thing’, Hereford sirloin with a ‘fine, dark crust’, and an ‘extraordinary, dense goo of chocolate & salted caramel’ for dessert.

David Sexton

Passione & Tradizione

Passione & Tradizione
Image source: Evening Standard

It’s 4 stars for Passione & Tradizione from David Sexton in the Evening Standard. This ‘little Italian gem’ in N15 served up ‘perfectly lemony’ veal scaloppine, ‘truly memorable’ almond and chocolate cake, and an ‘amazing… long-simmered’ lamb ragu pasta. The signature dish of tuna tartare, ‘perfection’.

Grace Dent

Anzu

Anzu
Image source: Evening Standard

In the distant past that was pre-Christmas, Grace Dent headed to Anzu: a spin-off of acclaimed ramen haven, Tonkotsu. Though scores of 1 and 2 out of 5 for ambience and food respectively showed this was not up to the same standards as the ‘bespoke noodle chain [she] loves dearly’. Though king-crab gyoza were ‘large, plump and delicious’, the tonkatsu curry was ‘over-fried, unflattened’ chicken in a ‘lacklustre mauve sauce’.

Tom Parker Bowles

Smokestak

Smokestak
Image source: Daily Mail

Another 4 stars for Smokestak from Tom Parker Bowles, a permanent-resident restaurant that started out as a Dalston-based street food stall. They ‘smoke some pretty mean brisket’, he says, and ‘better still’ are ‘nuggets of pigtail, lovingly braised’. Brisket buns inspire a ‘sweet Jesus’, and smoked ox cheeks have a ‘subtle’ smoke and ‘glorious’ texture.

Where some of our favourite bloggers have been eating out recently:

About Emma Starkie

Originally from Cumbria, Emma is always on the lookout for exciting new places to eat in London. Topping Emma's rankings at present are Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, Foxlow and Galvin La Chapelle. In her spare time, Emma enjoys trawling old bookshops, baking, and losing at pub quizzes.

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