John Walsh reviews

Source - 12/15

Friday, December 13, 2013 - The menu is short, tersely phrased and businesslike; the chef is James Adams, a West London star at Kensington Place and the River Café, and he displays a wonderfully light touch. Crab toast with lemon aioli was fresh as daisies, every white flake seething with the briny, the garlicky sauce cool and subtle, garnish slices of ruby-red chard both bitter and sweet. Angie’s slaw of broccoli, almond and cranberries was “sweet and salady and crunchy, all at the same time”.

Olympic Cafe & Dining Room - 7/15

Saturday, November 30, 2013 - Angie's roast cod with brown shrimp butter was frankly undercooked. Can there be a fashion for fish cooked rare-to-medium? If so I'm not joining it. "I like cod when it's white and flaky, not when it's grey and slimy," she told the waiter, who took it away...It was a rather underwhelming dinner in an establishment that offers a lot to those hungry for audio-visual spectacle and perhaps not enough to those just hungry for a good dinner.

Meza - 9/15

Saturday, November 16, 2013 - I've had kibbeh a thousand times, but the ones in Meza – fat teardrops of minced lamb, crushed wheat, onion and pine nuts – were yummy. Soujouk is familiar from a hundred Greek dinners; the Lebanese version is the same garlicky lamb sausage, but with more chilli. A you-must-try-this dish of Bemieh Bil Zeit turned out to be Egyptian okra with tomato and coriander, the okra pan-fried in chunks to de-slime it...I couldn't eat a thing after it, only finish the white wine and call for fresh mint tea. I hope Tooting enjoys its new incarnation as a gastro-district.

PipsDish - 9/15

Saturday, November 02, 2013 - The game terrine, of venison, rabbit and pork sausage, made on the premises and served with half a slice of toasted sourdough (steady on) was supple and pungently flavoursome, given bite and sweetness by pink beetroot batons in cider vinegar. Angie's minestrone seethed with fresh vegetables, including tiny chanterelle mushrooms, and threatened, with the toasted cheese and French mustard, to be a one-course meal.

Union Street Cafe - 11/15

Saturday, October 05, 2013 - From the antipasti, calamari fritti offered a handsome selection of battered squid, arrayed in a teetering pile on a single hefty slice of beef tomato. The shellfish was tasty and the batter (made with polenta flour) just right. Sardinian artichokes were cooked to a perfect al dente texture and whacked with flavour by Ligurian olives surmounted by shaved pecorino: dead simple but delicious...I'm not sure Gordon Ramsay has pulled off the Brooklyn-comes-to-London effect he may have wanted, but he's certainly established a terrific new Italian in drab SE1.

Gymkhana - 12/15

Saturday, September 21, 2013 - We shared lasooni wild tiger prawns, marinated for hours, astonishingly soft, tomatoey, garlicky and fiery, calmed down by red-pepper chutney. Main-course-sized lamb nalli barra meant best-end chops and lamb shank chops, marinated in turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper, that were falling-apart tender and tasty. In a side order of spiced okra, the often-slimy ladies' fingers were chopped up small and extremely yummy...I predict a great future for the brilliant Mr Sethi's new venture.

Shoryu Ramen (Soho) - 9/15

Saturday, August 24, 2013 - Angie had the house signature dish, Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu, featuring all the above with added spinach and garlic. "The broth is both milky and buttery," she said. "If I could imagine myself as a Japanese truck driver, I'd enjoy it." My Hokkaido curry ramen was more pork broth, an un-milky version, and tasted fine...The management at Shoryu insist that their food is 100 per cent authentic, prepared by a chap born and raised in Hakata. I'm sure for the south Japan locals, it's the last word in ramen paradise. For some of us, I'm afraid it remains an acquired taste.

Paesan - 12/15

Saturday, August 10, 2013 - These were dishes from a canteen or from an Italian mamma's kitchen, doled out to her weary peasant family after a hard day plying the zappa in a vineyard. If you want more from a restaurant – more drama, more elegance, more artifice, more of a climax – maybe Paesan isn't for you. I liked it a lot, however. I liked the buzz of the place, and the wine list (which offers several vintages in half-litres).

Casa Negra - 10/15

Saturday, July 27, 2013 - The charming waiting staff ferried small plate after small plate of things to fight over. Beef tartare on a tostado with lemon, chilli and onion, lifted by slivers of avocado. Chihuahua and Monterey Jack cheese smokily delicious like a sexy mozzarella, served with homemade chorizo. Cochinita pibil, a traditional Mexican dish of pork marinated in orange juice, given colour and flavour by the achiote flower, and slow-braised in a banana leaf, was earthy and unctuous, served with black beans.

Red House - 9/15

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - This was like no vongole dish I'd ever seen; to charge £21 for it bordered on insult. The manager, Jack, was charming, offered to replace it, and fast-tracked Scottish salmon with spring vegetables to our table. It was OK, but the moment of gustatory bliss had passed. My onglette steak was nicely done, tender and soft, sliced in the Tuscan tagliata style, drizzled with pesto and served with shaved fennel and fries: fine, though hardly demonstrating much cuisinal skill.

Vintage Salt (Upper St) - 12/15

Saturday, June 15, 2013 - The cooking (the chef is Lee Bull, formerly at Le Caprice) isn't exactly adventurous but it's very high quality, full of forethought and care. The personnel were chatty, friendly and knowledgable. Even the coffee was terrific, sourced from a special roast café in Old Street. Mr McDonald's choice of a Victorian retro fish'n'chip joint was an eccentric one for a first casting, but he's reeled in an undoubted success.

Oblix at The Shard - 12/15

Saturday, June 01, 2013 - The view from the 32nd floor is terrific (what's that cruise liner doing beside HMS Belfast?) but the room is lovely, the décor light and airy...Angie's rotisseried rosemary chicken scented with skordalia – bread sauce with aioli – packed a double punch. Tenderstem broccoli with chilli lemon rind, and a terrific dish of cauliflower roasted with almonds and caper berries, both lifted the proceedings. We were eating steak, chicken, broccoli and cauliflower; it was amazing how interesting they made it.

Mozzarella & More - 8/15

Saturday, April 20, 2013 - Two of us tried the evening's special dish, chicken stuffed with pancetta, breadcrumbs and herbs. It was the last word in Italian home cooking – rather short on presentation, a little pale and as-made-by-your-grandmama, but amazingly rich and toothsome. Sea bream was beautifully cooked and presented, but a little boring...This was a perfectly OK, simple, down-home Italian supper, but the bill (£260 for five people) seemed to have strayed in from another establishment. Made in Italy seems to be suffering from a touch of Made in Chelsea.

Little Social - 13/15

Saturday, April 06, 2013 - It's not every day you can give a restaurant five stars for design and atmosphere, but Little Social's intimate room is irresistible. The food nearly gets five stars for invention, polish and presentation; and the sausage-and-beefburger heartiness that robs it of top billing is, paradoxically, one of its great attractions. Hats off to the brilliant Mr Atherton.

Allium Brasserie - 10/15

Saturday, March 23, 2013 - Atlantic haddock was surrounded by tugboats of Cornish mussels and (excellent idea) chorizo with butternut squash – a very orange plateful, but intensely satisfying. Slow-cooked belly of pork was soft but al dente, given a blood-and-ashes kick by salty black pudding, the piggy earthiness of both balanced by crispy carrots and curly kale...Not all of it worked, but I hope you get to experience Staines's liberality and boldness of ambition when you're next in the badlands of Bath. He's a chef in a million.

Naamyaa Cafe - 7/15

Saturday, March 09, 2013 - It was a weird meal. The first half was so promising, the second so disastrous – as if the chap who understands about cooking simply took off at 2pm. There's something slapdash about the food that's at odds with the smartness of the décor and the service. There'll soon be a Naamyaa Café in a street near you, apparently. Try it by all means, for the spectacle – but it might be wise to leave soon after the ribs.

Cafe Also - 10/15

Saturday, February 09, 2013 - There's something rather lived-in and bashed-around about both Café Also and Joseph's Bookstore that won't appeal to everyone. The menu is small, and the wine list not madly interesting. But goodness, what a find in the gastro-wasteland of north London. The cooking is a series of small revelations from a chef with utter confidence in his seasoning and display. And the restaurant is as cosy as opening an old leather-bound volume of Dombey and Son. It's a one-off. Do try it.

Manuka Kitchen - 8/15

Saturday, January 26, 2013 - Bone marrow and saffron arancini are a beautiful sight, the risotto rice subtly flavourful, the crumb-coating miraculously light. Crispy squid came with nam jim sauce, a name that's fatally redolent of pyjamas but tastes delicious – a blend of soy and Thai nam pla with lime, chilli, garlic and ginger, that floods the squid flesh and legs with Pacific rim flavours. Steamed mussels with tomato and sweet potato were handsomely presented in a dramatic black iron skillet; a nice change from the usual mountain of shells, and the liquid's good enough to dip your bread in.

Goode & Wright - 11/15

Saturday, January 12, 2013 - The food, prepared by Finlay Logan, is remarkable. Mr Logan is a Scot of precision and flair. He's a whizz with oysters. A buttermilk-fried-then-grilled oyster served with spinach on a sourdough bun to resemble a 'slider' was a delightful miniature. My duck tartare with oysters was served with raw egg yolk to mix in – it was slimy and slithery in texture but tasted delicious cut with cornichons, capers, parsley and pickled chilli, the whole assembly offset by the crunch of sourdough toast.

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