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March proved an interesting month on the London dining scene. Although small plates continue their reign, with two worthy additions in the form of 10 Greek Street and Ceviche, it’s the restaurants doing something different that have caused a stir. First up, Dabbous' dishes (pictured) have been universally lauded by critics for their fresh flavours and simplicity. Elsewhere, Gregg Wallace’s cack-handed 1970s' nostalgia trip took a pasting from the capital’s critics.
They said: What an unusual treat to eat in the kitchen at No 10 – so warm and homely, so charming and friendly, the food so serenely, unflappingly cooked, plated and served
up. I doubt if the inhabitants of the other, more famous Number 10 have eaten better dinners than ours in ages, and I urge them (and you) to try it as soon as possible.
John Walsh, The Independent
We said: Newcomer 10 Greek Street’s black facade lacks a name, but this signals quiet confidence rather than an attempt to infiltrate the hipster ‘underground’. Chef Cameron Emirali’s menu features bright combinations of interesting seasonal ingredients – from al-dente wild garlic and goats’ cheese tortellini in a light leek butter to fall-apart braised goat with white beans and chorizo. Wines are another source of contentment, with big-hitting Antipodean names topping the bill.
They said: The
instant winner is the pisco sour, the signature cocktail (£5.50), made from Peru’s clear grape brandy with lime, egg white, sugar syrup and Amargo Chuncho bitters — sour, sweet, smooth, yet with a
raw bite, it’s a fantastic aperitif, with maybe some cancha, roasted Peruvian corn, nutty and mealy, crunchy but not hard, on the side. This is a drink that’s an addition to life, I’d say, well
worth coming here for alone.
David Sexton, Evening Standard
We said: Ceviche draws diners into its colourful world, plying them with sultry-looking staff, wildly folksy peñas beats and doctored pop art. The menu is wisely focused on the country’s most bankable foodie exports: guinea pig is out, but seven varieties of the restaurant’s namesake healthy, high-protein marinated fish are very much to the fore… the animated dining room is an elbow-to-elbow affair, but the pisco bar wins as the place to perch: sink a spot-on sour or three, polishing off tempting plates as you go.
They said: A 'coddled hen egg' starter was served in its cut shell, in a nest of hay. The egg yolk was cooked long and low, a favourite method of both the Japanese and molecular
gastronomers such as Andoni Aduriz of Mugaritz; but it was also mixed in with woodland mushrooms and smoked butter. The result was rich and complex, evocative of bonfires and autumn.
Guy Dimond, Time Out
We said: Dabbous and his team deliver impressive value in the shape of dazzling small plates such as crisp, gooey pork belly paired with nutty, caramel-like ‘acorn’ praline, balanced by bitter turnip tops and lively apple vinegar, part of a remarkably priced tasting menu (eight courses for £49). But, for every ‘hot’ ingredient or quirky ‘new Nordic’ combo, the kitchen also applies lashings of accomplished classical French technique.
They said: Where do I start with this travesty of a restaurant? Let’s set the scene with something as simple as the chips: some of the saddest I’ve ever seen. Pallid and greasy as a
bedroom-bound teenager, they bend over the fork, exhausted by their attempts to look edible. Or how about the menu? Here it comes, laaahvly stuff: mulligatawny soup that tastes like Vesta curry.
Chicken Kiev: a worryingly vast, pappy chicken breast, viciously deep-fried in a crumb coffin and stuffed with raw-tasting garlic… And veg? Surely Greengrocer Gregg can ace the veg? If ‘roast crown
prince squash with sage’ is anything to go by, overcooked, mushy and entirely unseasoned, no he can’t.
Marina O’Loughlin, Metro
We said: Top marks for detail, but on a recent visit the food was depressingly humdrum: ‘Spam’ fritters (actually ham hock) were greasy and unmemorable, beef stroganoff provided an unexpected school-dinner flashback, while the puddings – fruit crumble, Black Forest gateau – were embarrassingly inept.
They said: The gentle,
restrained side of Jeremy Lee is represented by a crisp salad of fennel, slightly bitter puntarelle and soft curls of squid, which come dressed with a spectacular olive oil. The butch side of the
equation comes in hunks of seared pigs' liver wrapped in salty bacon and sage leaves, served pink, the pan deglazed with sprightly vinegar… anybody who ever ate Lee's food at the Blueprint Café
will recognise that, in the trip from Docklands to Soho, he has felt no need to go on some journey of personal discovery. He has changed nothing. Which is just as we would wish it.
Jay Rayner, The Observer
We said: Top billing goes to a daily menu of pared-down dishes bristling with seasonal ingredients and palate-tingling flavours, such as juicy Middle White pork accompanied by show-stealing butter beans in a herb dressing… Lee’s flamboyant personality extends to an embarrassment of freshly cut flowers in the smart, tasteful dining room – although the contented buzz and assured service are pure Hart brothers.