‘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 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.
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’.
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
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:
— Heroine In Heels (@LauraJHyatt) January 6, 2017
— Emma (@LondonKiwiEmma) January 5, 2017
— TheFoodaholic (@garyjberry) January 5, 2017
— Em Catch52 (@Catchfiftytwo) January 3, 2017