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

Welcome to Oliver Thring’s monthly round-up of national critics’ restaurant reviews.

Bubbledogs Fitzrovia

Bubbledogs, W1

Tracey Macleod went to Bubbledogs: ‘it’s a wine bar – or, more specifically, a champagne bar – with some rather nice hot dogs attached’. The India-inspired ‘Trishna’ hot dog ‘provoked an involuntary shudder’ but the New Yorker (which comes with sauerkraut) is ‘more appealing’. [link]

‘The dogs are good’, says AA Gill at Bubbledogs, but sweet potato fries were ‘inedible’. ‘Take away the innuendo and it’s a wine bar with sausages.’ [link]

Gill also went to Chrysan: ‘the best Japanese food in London’. Beef with leeks and yuzu egg-yolk sauce was ‘the most original and divine way to eat a steak … The kitchen skills, in particular the knife work, were exemplary and a pleasure to chew.’ [link]

The ‘two quid carrot soup’ is ‘excellent,’ says Giles Coren at Brasserie Zédel; the frites are ‘undeniably first-rate’. It’s all ‘‘big, sprauncy, cheap, accessible West End fun’. [link]

Giles also loves the ‘faultlessly juicy birds’ at Chicken Shop, Kentish Town. Chips and corn on the cobs are ‘quite wonderful… I basically live down there.’ [link]

Lisa Markwell was another critic to visit what she called ‘Hipster Nando’s’. The main product is ‘sticky and tender, skin slathered in salty, herby juices’. ‘I’m struggling to find much fault … except the frequent interruptions by staff.’ [link]

She also visited The Ledbury. Heritage tomato salad was ‘so ripe and rich in flavour it makes me giddy’ and ‘the salmon is simply perfect’. ‘Nothing extraneous, nothing missing.’ [link]

Amol Rajan: Caravan is ‘warehouse chic with a touch of class’. Jalapeño cornbread with chipotle butter was ‘wonderful’, as was chorizo and butternut squash croquettes with saffron aioli. ‘Most of the other plates are … much better than OK, but they’re so small that you have to spend a lot of money to fill an empty belly.’ [link]

‘This is an airy, uncluttered, relaxing space,’ says Matthew Norman at Drake’s in Ripley, Surrey. Sea bass with oxtail was a ‘triumph’. [link]

Norman also visited Gregg’s Table and, like everyone, hated it. ‘Any prospective MasterChef contestant is advised to visit Gregg’s Table beforehand – and on the off-chance that he has the insolence to belittle your work, store away a Greggorian “Mate, have you eaten at your own bleeding restaurant?” for later use.’ [link]

‘The cuisine is anything but Michelin-pretentious,’ says Norman at Agaric in Newton Abbot. Venison with chanterelles and pork belly was ‘an inventive medley’, beef fillet ‘unspeakably delicious’. [link]

‘The mains are steeply priced,’ says David Sexton at Bibigo, a new Korean on Great Marlborough Street. Red chicken with shishito peppers was ‘a bit Chicken Cottage’, black cod a ‘straightforward Nobu knock-off’. [link]

‘Service, though smiling, is incredibly slow,’ says Guy Dimond at Lucky Chip (aka Slider Bar). But ‘we were impressed by … the high quality of the juicy fatty beef burgers’ and ‘the pulled pork slider was exemplary’. [link]

‘Kitchens facilities are rudimentary,’ says Emma Sturgess at Friends of Ham in Leeds. Chicken liver pate is ‘robust’ and tapenade ‘fine, light [and] billowy’. ‘Mayfield, a rich Emmental-style cheese, was a great discovery.’ [link]

‘The mood is mellow and familial,’ says Zoe Williams at the Glasshouse in Kew. Rabbit pasta ‘worked beautifully’ and fried cod with miso and pak choi was ‘very fresh and attractive’. Those who eat here will be ‘suffused with a deep contentment’. [link]

She also went to Petersham Nurseries, ‘a world of high-walled privacy’. Burrata with shaved courgettes, purple basil and grana padano was ‘extremely beautiful’ and ‘amazing’ beef fillet came with ‘exquisite’ girolles. [link]

‘The killer dish is a starter of tempura borage,’ says Marina O’Loughlin at Wapping Food, with its ‘monolothic and vaguely ruined’ aesthetic. She loved the chicken broth: ‘a murky rockpool of gorgeousness’. [link]

Marina also visited AG Hendy & Co Home Store Kitchen, Hastings, ‘a labour of almost maniacal love’ by its eponymous owner. Dressed crab was ‘sweet and pungent’, courgette tart ‘subtle and soothingly bland’. ‘I leave a total convert.’ [link]

Jay Rayner went to The Heliot, the ‘solidly restored’ restaurant in the Hippodrome casino by Leicester Square. Sea bass with cucumber salad and roasted rice was ‘OK but in no way lived up to its billing’. [link]

‘Dabbous really does walk on water,’ says Andy Lynes, ‘in a culinary sense at least.’ Veal rump with yellow courgette and chrysanthemum ‘looks unassuming but tastes outstanding’, and ‘ripe peach in its own juice’ was ‘a revelation’. ‘The floor is staffed by what appear to be public schoolboys and male models.’ [link]

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