Toby Young reviews
Roux at Parliament Square - 17/20
Sunday, May 30, 2010 - I go for Berkshire Black pork belly accompanied by heritage carrots, Pommery mousseline and some creamed potato. This is perfectly executed and the pork has a deep, pungent flavour. I particularly like the little metal jug of jus that is set beside my plate, enabling me to create little pools of deliciousness in my creamed potato. My neighbour, who has plumped for sea trout, is equally happy judging from her little moans of pleasure...Will Roux at Parliament Square overcome the various challenges ranged against it? My conclusion is that it will, thanks to the talent of newcomer Daniel Cox.
Osteria Dell'Angolo - 12/20
Sunday, April 18, 2010 - The interior looks expensive, as befits a bolthole for Britain's political elite. It's all dark wood and soft lighting, with plenty of booths tucked out of sight...My beef is perfectly cooked, but the reduction accompanying it is a little metallic, and the timbale is wafer-thin. Rachel praises her scallops - 'delicious' - and James declares his risotto 'spot-on', but all three of us are not quite as blown away as we'd been expecting. I have to confess to being a little disappointed, given the size of Pulze's reputation.
Yoshi Sushi - 17/20
Sunday, March 28, 2010 - We always order the same: two lots of prawn tempura to start, some yaki buta niku (fried belly pork with vegetables in a spicy sauce) to tide us over, and, for our mains, a soft-shell crab roll, a salmon-skin roll and a California roll, and a selection of nigiri, including tuna, salmon, yellowtail and flying-fish roe. It's always good. The tempura is succulent and not too greasy, the fried pork combines with the vegetables and the spicy sauce to produce something irresistibly moreish, and the maki and nigiri are full of rich, fishy flavours. This is freshly prepared, well-balanced food made by an experienced chef.
The Gay Hussar - 11/20
Sunday, March 14, 2010 - For mains, I have the Dutch calves' liver sauteed with onions, bacon and paprika, while Caroline goes for the vegetarian goulash with galuska and Charlie has pork medallions with bacon, onions, potatoes and paprika. Again, they've no complaints, but my dish is a shocker. Instead of the delicately fried liver I'm expecting, I receive a pile of dark brown slop. It has the texture of mashed potatoes...I remember the food being a lot better than this. What has happened?
Pearl Liang - 14/20
Sunday, February 28, 2010 - At 9.80, the set lunch looks a real bargain. It consists of a selection of items: prawn dumpling, zucchini with celery prawn dumpling, pork-and-radish dumpling, honey-roasted pork bun, monk's vegetable dumpling, pork shu mai, spinach dumpling and glutinous rice with meat seaweed wrap. The prawn dumplings are nothing to write home about but the pork bun, shu mai and glutinous rice are all very tasty. Best of all are the barbecued pork puffs, which are sweet and rich, with just a hint of spice.
More - 10/20
Sunday, February 14, 2010 - I start with hare and pork rillette, followed by slow-cooked lamb shoulder with flageolet beans, almonds, prunes, saffron, cumin and coriander. The rillette has a suitably coarse texture, without too much fat, but the flavour is a little bland, requiring some mustard to bring it to life. The lamb is similarly unexciting, a bog-standard Mediterranean dish. At over 20 quid for two courses, I was expecting them to be better...Conceptually confused, and with an unremarkable kitchen offering mediocre fare, More is unlikely to be coming to a high street near you soon.
Vijay Indian Restaurant - 17/20
Sunday, January 03, 2010 - From the first bite of the dosai, I realise why my friends have been raving about this place. It's light and crispy with a lovely buttery flavour, even better than the dosai at Sagar on King Street in Hammersmith, which is saying something. My main course is a knock-out, made with large chunks of freshly cooked chicken, and Caroline is so pleased with her vegetable dishes she lapses into a series of moans and groans. When she recovers the power of speech, she singles out the freshness of the ingredients and the fact the chef is able to use spices quite liberally without masking any of the individual vegetable flavours.
Dean Street Townhouse - 15/20
Sunday, December 20, 2009 - As soon as you enter, there is no doubt about its parentage. Like the Ivy, Scott's and J Sheekey, it has the appearance of a luxurious gentlemen's club, with lots of dark wood and brass rails...My first course is excellent - a firm, rich souffle with lots of deep, fishy flavour - but the mince is a little on the utilitarian side. This is supposed to be the Townhouse's signature dish but because it consists of just mince with a couple of boiled potatoes on top it looks as if something's missing. The flavour is good, particularly if you're a fan of Worcester Sauce, but it would work better as a pie.
Mennula - 15/20
Sunday, December 06, 2009 - Both first courses are a great success, particularly the squid. For my main course, I have calf's liver served with mashed potato, spinach, onion marmalade and speck, while my friend has pork belly with polenta, black cabbage and apple chutney. The calf's liver is perfectly cooked and full of rich, earthy flavours, but the presentation is a little too fussy...I can't see it ever becoming a destination restaurant but if you're after simple Sicilian food, lovingly prepared by a talented chef, this is the place to come.
Polpo - 16/20
Sunday, October 25, 2009 - I ordered a selection of dishes, including a potato and Parmesan croquette, chopped chicken liver, pizzetta Bianca, pork belly, radicchio and hazelnuts and, to finish, ciambella and chocolate. The croquette was a little bit ordinaire, but the chicken liver on crostini was excellent, as was the pork belly and the ciambella (ring cake), which was drenched in chocolate sauce. But surely the most impressive thing was how quickly all the plates came out of the kitchen. I arrived at 12.45pm and was wiping the final crumb of ciambella off my lips at 1.25pm.
Sunday, September 27, 2009 - Quirinale was opened in 2002 by Nadine Gourgey. A lawyer with a lifelong love of food, Gourgey decided that the House of Commons could do with a decent Italian less than two minutes' walk away and recruited Stefano Savio as head chef...I start with a timbale of crab with broccoli and crushed olives, while Caroline has a rocket salad. Both are nice and light - a good opener to a five-course meal. The next course is better - a fillet of Scottish beef on a bed of wild mushrooms...
Cote (Soho) - 13/20
Sunday, August 30, 2009 - The menu might be described as French lite, with nothing likely to gross out mainstream customers, such as snails or frog's legs. It also includes a couple of non-French additions, such as risotto and seafood linguini. This is an upmarket chain restaurant, not a temple to haute cuisine...Given what Cote charges, I had been hoping for slightly better - this is a little too close to Cafe Rouge for comfort. If you're looking for value for money, my recommendation is to come between noon and 6pm at the weekend, when you can get the two-course steak frites special for 11.95.
Clarke's Restaurant - 18/20
Sunday, August 16, 2009 - I opt for a salad of Aylesbury duck breast with pine nut and sultana cous cous, followed by chicken Kiev in a sauce of rosemary, fava beans and cream, while my companion has goujons of lemon sole and red mullet and, for his main course, thinly sliced beef salad with Italian peppers, black olives and cress. The highlight is the duck, but everything is light and summery, bursting with fresh, herby flavours...Clarke's isn't cheap. But if you have something to celebrate, I can't recommend it highly enough.
Cafe Ginkgo - 15/20
Sunday, July 19, 2009 - The most mouthwatering things on view are the salads. I opt for a slice of ham, spinach, mushroom and cheddar quiche accompanied by a salad of golden beetroot, plum tomato and onion and another of broad beans and radish, while my wife goes for the three-salad option, adding a third salad of runner beans, sun-blushed tomatoes and artichoke...But perhaps the best thing about Cafe Ginkgo is the space. The main dining-room looks like the interior of a Norwegian log cabin, with plain wooden surfaces and simple wooden furniture. The front is made up largely of glass and the back opens on to the garden centre, giving the restaurant a wonderfully airy, al fresco feel.