Barrafina
The new Barrafina Adelaide Street is a fabulously good place to have a vivacious, ambrosial and, incidentally, healthy meal. The Evening Standard's Fay Maschler urges diners to queue patiently.

"The crushed tomatoes and the seasoning of them exhibit the perfect simplicity -- or deceptive simplicity -- that underpins the whole meal. It is a rare and rousing quality seldom experienced in big city restaurants, more often furnishing the stuff of holiday nostalgia. Tranche of turbot occupies the minute window of opportunity between too rare to bow to a knife and too done to capitalise on its opalescent imperviousness. A slug of ajillo (olive oil, garlic, flat-leaf parsley) given a kick with chillies coats but doesn't muffle the bold burnished piece, plenty  for two to share -- although I did slightly regret not taking the "big half" for £24.80."

Time Out's Guy Dimond also heads over to Barrafina Adelaide Street where the list of sherries, cavas and other wines by the glass are as much of a draw as the food, and perfect for experimenting with as you nibble. 

"Escalavida con pan de coca combines a firm Mallorcan bread base (the 'pan de coca' bit, like a flatter, chewy ciabatta) with a topping of chargrilled aubergine, peppers, onion and garlic, the smoke from the grill permeating the vegetables. The grill is still a core part of the Barrafina formula, for example in pintxos morunos, little pork kebabs which were tender and very moist," he comments. "These little snacks are tempting and delightful, but watch out if you're properly hungry, as the bill adds up fast. A solitary courgette flower, stuffed with soft white cheese and drizzled with honey, was a seasonal treat and winning combination of savoury and sweet, but is no bargain at £7.80."  


Ham Yard
Tim and Kit Kemp's Ham Yard hotel in Soho might be "a pleasure palace complete with roof garden, theatre, screening rooms and even an original Fifties bowling alley" but it's restaurant doesn't impress the Independent's Tracey Macleod. 

The menu features "distinctly clean food, short on carbs and long on salad", with mains that were "subtle to the point of being forgettable", though a starter of minestrone "was a fine thing, the broth slick with grassy basil oil".
Kurobuta
Ex-Nobu chef Scott Hallsworth might take liberties with classic Nipponese ingredients, says John Walsh in The Independent, but the result served at his Kurobuta concept in London is "an exciting new fusion cuisine". 

Each of Walsh's six sharing dishes was "a blissful discovery". The yellowtail sashimi with wasabi salsa were "miracles of lepping freshness", while tuna sashimi pizza with truffle ponzu, red onions and green chillies offered four big mouthfuls ablaze with warring flavours; the tuna was soft and substantial, sublime against the crunch of corn and the attack of onions. Trace elements of spongy green stuff turned out to be flying-fish wasabi, a foodie treat".

Reviews: City Social just the ticket for City types

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City Social
The mains may be a "masterclass" and dessert "faultless" at Jason Atherton's City Social in Old Broad Street, but according to The Observer's Jay Rayner, the restaurant isn't for people like him.

"At his best Jason Atherton, who oversees the kitchen here for the consultants Restaurant Associates, which actually runs the venue, can be very good indeed. Witness his seafood linguine: a coil of silky pasta lies in a bowl surrounded by curls of crisped squid, steamed mussels and cockles and a dice of razor clam on the shell. On to this is poured a seafood velouté that is heavy with the cooking juices. Aside from the irritation of wrestling the sauce boat off the waiter so you can have more, it is about as good a seafood pasta dish as you could hope to find in London. As it should be for £14."

Meanwhile writing in the Evening Standard, David Sexton said his meal at City Social resembled top-notch in-flight service in first class, while the room could have been an airport's luxury lounge - but if you work in the City and need to entertain, it will do you proud.

"City Social at Tower 42 is a wholly corporate place. It's another of those restaurants within those big, professionally-run groups that aims to deliver carefully pitched, expertly executed fine dining, offering an impressive level of complexity, on-trend ingredients and obvious luxury on the plate, while guaranteeing a big name somewhere in the vicinity and ostentatiously attentive service, to a market that craves all those reassurances when eating out. Atherton is probably the best at delivering this package at the moment, Gordon having gone a bit funny, Marcus Wareing never quite having cracked the diffusion line gig."
Adam Byatt
Always wanted the chance to learn from a Claridges-trained, three AA-rosette, TV chef? You're in luck.

Adam Byatt, Great British Menu contestant and chef-owner of London's Trinity, has teamed up with new Surrey cookery school, the Abinger, to teach a public class on Entertaining Made Easy.

AdamByatt3.jpg
Set for 11 July, the class will give just 16 people the chance to cook a four-course meal. The dishes will include: 

  • Herb-crusted razor clams with fennel, lemon thyme, chilli and lim
  • Warm salad of wood pigeon, deep-fried Clarence court egg, endive and sherry vinegar
  • Salt-baked sea bass, salad of fennel, orange and dill
  • Summer berry and Champagne jelly with red fruits and Chantilly cream
Fera
AA Gill enjoys a dinner of "finely mixed messages" at Simon Rogan's new London outpost at Claridge's, Fera, thanks to the prevailing restaurant aesthetic of "decluttering, unstuffing, deformalising dinner" and the chef's complicated menu.

"This started with little mouthfuls of stuffed puffed barley, smoked eel and watercress; mackerel, seawater cream and caviar; stewed rabbit and lovage; potato and duck heart, all of which were pretty sublime. Then came raw beef with smoked broccoli cream, scallop roe and apple juice. Then on to prawns from Gairloch, brill flavoured with hogweed and blewits. Then duck with bean purée, leek, hyssop and chickweed; pineapple weed, butterscotch and celery; iced beech leaf, nitro sweet cheese and sorrel," he writes in the Sunday Times.

"You get to the end and understand that Rogan can certainly cook: this is immaculately made, immensely complicated and fiddly food, almost all of it very small, the flavours intense but fleeting, and I might say lacking in breadth."

The Times' Giles Coren also writes up his visit of Fera this week and describes a food experience that starts off very strong.

"My memory, a couple of days on, is of brightly coloured flower petals and tiny leaves framed by perfect levels of crunch and salt, great physical beauty and freshness, purées in a delicious range of greens, swift and efficient service, tight focus, the best canapés imaginable," he says. "then a gradual decline of focus (mine or theirs, I'm not sure) through the mains but a delicious bit of lemon sole literally braised in nettle butter and not (as I feared it might be) bathed in it overnight at low temperature, sweet hogget fillet served with a musty corner of the shoulder and slices of pickled tongue from way beyond my ken, and then four desserts which were a bit of a mess."
Beast
AA Gill is distinctly unimpressed by T-bone steak and Norwegian crab restaurant Beast in London W1, berating its by-numbers approach to the restaurant business. 

"Beast is a high-concept restaurant. It is a dining room that has held its licked finger up to the prevailing zeitgeist, read the menu runes, stared into the entrails of dinner, done the gastronomic maths and come up with the algorithm of what we really, really want. Hold on to your hats, because all the data points to a kitchen that serves big steaks and huge crabs for a set £75 a head," he writes in the Sunday Times.

The Evening Standard's Grace Dent also visits Beast, just off Oxford Street, roars about its exclusivity but raves about the Goodman-owned restaurant nonetheless. 

"Dinner began with a quarter wheel of parmesan accompanied with pickled onions, olives, artichokes and aged balsamic. It's a gesture brimming with joy and largesse, although the cheese wasn't enormously moreish. Next, a grand platter of Nebraskan ribeye steak appeared, sliced, with a generous terrine of smoked heritage tomatoes, excellent green leaves and some good truffle sauce. 'The maximum we cook it is medium rare,' we'd been informed. I wonder if anyone argues, states the price paid and demands it presented cremated?"
Steak tartare
Patrick Hanna, head chef at L'Entrepot, a neighbourhood restaurant and wine bar in the heart of Hackney Downs, demonstrates his take on the classic, steak tartare (see video below). 

Hanna, who previously worked at Rochelle Canteen and Duck Soup, starts by seasoning his chopping board with a halved bulb of garlic and a handful of fresh rosemary - "the best herb on earth". 
Rotorino
Giles Coren expects another well-designed dive for skinny hipsters to drink gin out of jam jars when he visits Rotorino, the latest offering from club and bar operator Jonathan Downey. Instead he finds an "actual restaurant, and a very good one at that".

"The widely adored Stevie Parle of Dock Kitchen (and formerly the River Café) has put together a tight, edgy Italian menu of what Jonathan calls "small plates that aren't for sharing"," he writes in the Times. "The idea, in short, is to eat old-fashioned consecutive Italian courses of food - and drink from an excellent wine list curated by Street Vin's Ruth Spivey."
Hartnett Holder & Co
John Walsh stretched the limitations of the musical metaphor with his review of Hartnett Holder & Co, a name and concept that he likens to a 1970s pop supergroup.

"Hartnett Holder & Co may have one or two musical differences (like about how many accessories you need on a main-course plate) but they're a supergroup who've produced a real winner in the heart of the New Forest. I hope it's a long-player," he writes in the Independent.

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