Monthly Round-up of National Critics’ Restaurant Reviews by Oliver Thring (November 2012)

The Table Cafe Southwark

The Table Cafe, Southwark

‘All the mod-Italian signifiers are present and correct,’ says Marina O’Loughlin at The Table Café in Southwark. Confit duck with lentils was ‘underseasoned’ with ‘flabby’ skin, but the place still has ‘a lot going for it’. [link]

‘I’m devastated to report that I don’t hate the cooking,’ she says from a noisy communal table at the South Place Hotel in EC2. Kashmiri lamb curry was ‘excellent’. [link]

And she finds the food ‘almost entirely terrific’ at the appallingly-named Ethicurean, outside Bristol. ‘There’s suitably gamey pigeon breast on a nutty, pearl barley orzotto, all rich with sauce bordelaise … The whole thing is almost too good to be true.’ [link]

‘We laboured to try everything we could find,’ says Zoe Williams at Georgina’s in Barnes, ‘but quite a lot of it tasted the same … The fish pâté was strangely thin’; crab linguine was a ‘joyless arrangement’. [link]

Melton’s in York is a ‘confident little place,’ she adds. Caponata was ‘a treat’, pig trotter and hock ‘exquisite’ and pear and almond cake ‘utterly lovely’. [link]

Finally, Zoe visited Obikà in South Ken. ‘The overall appearance is of a sassy, high-concept Strada.’ Classic mozzarella ‘tasted neither better nor worse than most I’ve had from a supermarket’. [link

‘This pizza was sensational,’ says Matthew Norman at Oliveto in Belgravia. The crust ‘puffed out into airy bubbles at the rim and had that gorgeous hint of borderline burntness at the base. The toppings were also outstanding.’ [link]

He also went to The Foxhunter in Abergavenny. Crab and herb risotto was ‘special’ and poached brill with octopus, smoked paprika and baby new potatoes was ‘beautiful’. ‘This meal was exceedingly difficult to fault.’ [link]

Lisa Markwell visited The Road Hole Restaurant at the Old Course Hotel in St Andrews. Loin of venison was ‘excellently pink and melting’ and baked alaska with strawberry and pepper cream was ‘pretty’. [link]

‘It’s serious industrial chic,’ says John Walsh at Beard to Tail in Shoreditch. ‘This is a male carnivore’s club.’ Pork chop was ‘lovingly cooked and nicely flavoured’; the place will be ‘lionised by east London trendsetters for months to come’. (That praise sounds rather tongue-in-cheek.) [link]

‘First impressions are slightly disappointing,’ Walsh says at Café Colbert on Sloane Square. ‘Most of the eight main courses are old favourites’, but a cassoulet’s presentation was ‘anaemic’. The place is ‘half-convincingly French’. [link]

Tracey Macleod visited Michael Nadra in Primrose Hill. Venison shank was ‘slow-cooked to fathomless richness’, but tarte tatin resembled ‘a giant yorkshire pudding filled with apple and ice cream’. ‘Michael – I shoulda loved ya. But I didn’t.’ [link]

Jay Rayner also went to Beard to Tail: ‘one long masterclass in disappointment’. Kidneys were ‘pure essence of NCP carpark stairwell’ and chips were ‘pieces of undercooked potato the size of sofa cushions’. [link]

‘There are several perplexing things about Assiette Anglaise,’ says Andy Lynes. ‘Braised pork belly comes with a crackling so crisp you could use it to slice through the spoonable flesh.’ [link]

‘Overdone lamb and date-stuffed vine leaves disappoint,’ says Joe Warwick at The Shed in W8. ‘Worst of all is a treacle tart that tastes more like a mediocre flapjack.’ [link]

‘It was beautifully done,’ says Giles Coren at Lima. ‘I recall now the vivid, geometric, almost Modernist beauty and colour of each plate.’ Braised lamb shoulder with coriander and pisco jus, black quinoa and white grapes was ‘perfectly timed, chocolatey and rude’. [link]

‘Bonnie Gull tries a bit strenuously to charm,’ says David Sexton in Fitzrovia. A Scottish langoustine came with ‘a fabulously good big chunk of soft fatty pork’, while a williams pear with mulled wine and clotted cream was ‘good but a bit cold’. [link]

A balanced review by AA Gill of Café Colbert. ‘There is no doubting its Frenchness … Colbert will definitely and effortlessly become a favourite of the local ladies who lunch.’ [link]

Guy Dimond likes small-plates Dishoom in Shoreditch: ‘our seekh kebabs arrived well spiced, the minced lamb juicy, served piping hot from the grill.’ The place is ‘great for atmosphere and its all-day opening hours’. [link]

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