National Critics’ Restaurant Review Round-up by Bookatable

From age-old institutions to new kids on the block, this week saw both rollicking successes and not so lovingly-embraced plates served to the nation’s favourite critics.

Zoe Williams

Almeida

Almeida

Zoe Williams headed north, to Almeida, just off Upper Street. It’s certainly easy on the eye: ‘Hollywood lighting’ makes ‘everybody [look] beautiful; the furniture… is extremely high spec’. Mackerel was ‘faultless’, gnocchi ‘hopelessly moreish’ and a pistachio soufflé that was ‘comically easy to eat’.

 

Fay Maschler

Tommy Tucker Image source: Evening Standard

Tommy Tucker
Image source: Evening Standard

Fay Maschler spots the new trend for ‘restaurants inspired by nursery rhymes’ in The Tommy Tucker: a brand-new pub renovation in Fulham. Fay et al try ‘beautifully cooked’ rabbit leg and champion a ‘bold’ mackerel, while her second visit sees a squash and goats’ cheese salad served ‘gastropub’ style, but ‘ratcheted up a few notches’, and a ‘finesse’-flaunting apple and quince pie.

 

Marina O’Loughlin

Mowgli Image Source: The Guardian

Mowgli
Image Source: The Guardian

According to Marina O’Loughlin, Mowgli in Liverpool didn’t have the spark of ‘vibrancy and just-made freshness’ that Indian street food should. Poor seasoning lets down a lamb curry that could be ‘a thing of beauty’, though there is a ‘pleasing… temple dahl’ and maa’s lamb chops with a ‘good crust’. O’Loughlin heads to ‘little cracker’ tapas joint Roja Pinchos instead.

 

Giles Coren

Pachamama Image source: Design My Night

Pachamama
Image source: Design My Night

Giles Coren headed to the sort of place ‘only a 24-year-old hipster would know about’ this week: Peruvian Pachamama in Marylebone. Though Coren heralds it as some of ‘London’s best food’ (and scores the cooking an impressive 9/10), the setting and service require fine tuning. Highlights include ‘sea bass… shimmering fresh, perfectly seasoned, dazzlingly spiced.’

 

Jay Rayner

Harry's Shack Image source: The Guardian

Harry’s Shack
Image source: The Guardian

The sheer beauty of the location of Harry’s Shack means all it would need to do to thrive is ‘not [screw] up’, says Jay Rayner, and thankfully it ‘does an awful lot more than not screw up’. The main plates are ‘[underpinned by] serious knowledge’: he enjoyed ‘pitch perfect’ spiced whitebait, ‘expertly cooked’ gurnard and a crème caramel that made him (pleasurably) ‘sigh’.

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