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Food & drink | The Guardian

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Mario Batali taking leave from restaurant empire after claims of sexual misconduct

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:50:27 GMT

The celebrity chef said ‘I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain I have caused’ after at least four women reported incidents

The chef Mario Batali has surrendered oversight of daily operations at his restaurant empire following reports of sexual misconduct over a period of at least 20 years.

The online site Eater New York, part of Vox Media, reported on Monday that the incidents involve at least four women, three of whom worked for Batali. One of the women said Batali groped her chest after wine had spilled on her shirt. Another said he grabbed her from behind and held her tightly against his body.

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Romy’s Kitchen, Thornbury, Bristol: ‘Not too hip, not too laboured, but welcoming’ – restaurant review

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 13:00:05 GMT

Modern but faithful Punjabi-Bengali cooking is the secret to Romy Gill’s welcoming neighbourhood stop-off

Having dipped in and out of Bristol for the past 30 years, I’ve always thought the place a glorious home to rebels and refuseniks. Early 90s visits for 6am loiters around the Spiral Tribe sound system have shifted, over many moons, to trips south-west to check out Avon’s vibrant food scene. I love Bristol more than most of the UK’s large hubs, mainly because, in the face of homogeny, it remains distinctly, well, Bristol-ish: a landscape of makers and doers, a yurt-dining, renegade-beekeeping, bespoke-small-batch-cider-brewing hotspot. It seems as if there’s time and space here to follow one’s dream in a way that you might not enjoy in, say, Islington.

But this also means that things can get ignored. You’ve possibly not heard of Romy Gill, for instance, chef/proprietor of Romy’s Kitchen. Romy’s Kitchen is 14 miles from Bristol town centre in Thornbury, a delightfully Hot Fuzzy market town. I won’t say quaint: as Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright expressed in their cop film spoof, no British towns are quaint below their veneer. Still, pre-dinner on a Friday night, after I’d bought a round of drinks in The Swan on the main street for £4.85, massaged the pub’s resident German shepherd’s ears and watched a Gary Numan covers band tune up, the place felt oddly perfect. I like a pub that greets my request for wine with a moment’s pause, before a fumble with a fuzzy-rimmed bottle.

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Thomasina Miers’ recipe for mujadara with spiced chicken livers

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 14:00:06 GMT

This Middle Eastern classic transforms humble rice and lentils into a thing of luxury

Middle Easterners can give Italians a run for their money when it comes to comfort food, with endless bowls of warming dips, mouthwatering flatbreads and wonderful stews. Today’s recipe, mujadara, is one of my desert-island dishes: a resplendent pile of steaming rice and tender lentils topped with crisp, caramelised onions. The core ingredients may be humble, but the combination is pure luxury, especially when dressed with creamy yoghurt and sweet pomegranate. Add spiced chicken livers to the mix, and you have a quick meal that’s fit for a king.

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St Patrick's day cocktail: Irish goodbye

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 13:00:05 GMT

The combination of the nation’s stout and creme de cassis makes for a fancier Guinness and black, taken up a notch further with whiskey

Serves 1

An ode to the craftsmanship of the Emerald Isle, and a play on that old pub favourite, Guinness and black. The weight of the whiskey is alleviated by the fruity cassis; throw the velvety mouthfeel of Guinness into the mix, and this makes a perfect St Patrick’s Day aperitif.

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s noodle recipes

Sat, 10 Mar 2018 09:00:14 GMT

From udon with orange to sea spaghetti with tahini, these dishes show off the spectrum of textures and flavours offered up by the versatile noodle

I’m often asked what my guilty food pleasure is, and my reply is usually: “I don’t mix guilt with pleasure.” But if pressed, I’ll come up with another answer: “Pot Noodles.” I know several chefs who are more than happy to pour boiling water into a plastic cup for their dinner, especially after many hours of “proper” cooking. The real attraction, though, lies in the nature of the noodles themselves: slurpy, satisfying and not at all challenging. Today’s recipes are strong on all these qualities, yet still require a certain level of commitment, so your conscience stays clear.

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Margot Henderson’s recipe for braised fennel sausages with tomato sauce

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 11:28:00 GMT

Serve this family-friendly dinner on a platter with soft polenta and salad to turn a midweek meal into a feast

This is one of our family staples. An ordinary dinner becomes a feast; a large platter oozing with polenta and sauce, topped by a pile of sausages. Italian sausages can be found in most Italian delis and some butcher’s shops. They work well roasted and grilled, but slowly, so they relax and soften.

(Serves 5)
4 red onions, cut into wedges
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
½ bottle red wine
125ml olive oil
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 bulbs of fennel, cut into wedges
10 Italian pork and fennel sausages
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
A bundle of fresh herbs, tied together eg thyme, parsley, rosemary and bay leaf

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Can I cook like ... Donald Trump?

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 08:00:28 GMT

Minced meat for every meal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Donald Trump is an angry guy, and I think I know why: his diet is terrible. His favourite food is meatloaf, which I agreed to cook because I thought that “meatloaf” was what Americans called beef wellington.

Beef wellington, in case you don’t know, is a delicious dish of fillet steak, covered in a mixture of paté, mushrooms and herbs, wrapped in puff pastry and then baked. It’s delightful, but I don’t know how to cook it myself, and thought that cooking à la Trump (or, more realistically, à la Trump’s chef) would be a good excuse.

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Let's raise a glass to female winemakers

Thu, 08 Mar 2018 10:00:01 GMT

Like female chefs, women winemakers operate in a largely male world, but they produce excellent wines

When I mentioned on Twitter recently that I wanted to talk to women winemakers for a feature in the run-up to International Women’s Day, I was overwhelmed by the response. Of course I knew there were a good number (many of them have been on the scene for some time) but not quite how many, or how much they wanted a voice.

Like women chefs, female winemakers operate in a largely male world and have encountered discrimination and casual sexism, “from being dismissed as the marketing girl to overtly lewd behaviour”, as one told me. More surprisingly, that discrimination comes from customers, too: “When one female guest at a festival was told I was appointed to be her host, she asked if I could send over a male colleague instead,” another told me.

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Tamal Ray’s recipe for lemon and ginger friands

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 06:00:31 GMT

These lovely, light cakes are enriched with browned butter and spiked with the kick of stem ginger

There’s something liberating about the simplicity of a friand. To take a bite of one is to be reminded of the very reason we love cake. Key to its beauty is the browned butter. Take care when doing this, however: perfect brown is achieved only a few seconds short of unappetising, charred black. If you are worried it might burn, pour the butter into a heatproof dish right away.

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Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for peanut and broccoli pad thai

Sat, 10 Mar 2018 09:30:14 GMT

A vegan twist on Thailand’s national dish

In the late 1930s, Thailand’s prime minister held a public competition to find a new national noodle dish. The winning entry was a dish that combined rice noodles, vegetables, peanuts, shrimp and egg, and it was named “pad Thai” in a bid to promote Thai-ness. This vegan interpretation of that classic dish celebrates the brilliance of the original, while also bringing in something new in the form of purple sprouting broccoli. I’m not sure the former Thai PM would approve, but I hope you do.

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The Red Lion, Soham | Grace Dent’s restaurant review

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 13:00:38 GMT

This refurbished pub in deepest Cambridgeshire will satisfy locals and unpretentious day-trippers alike

Heading to the Red Lion (closest station Ely) on a Saturday lunchtime, the train falls utterly silent once we are rid of the Cambridge day-trippers. It’s a ferociously pretty morning in the Fens. Spring is vying to spring, but no one is travelling farther east with me towards Wicken, Soham or Fordham. On arrival at the Red Lion, I’m the only customer. By the end of lunch, there are five.

If, for you, Brexit’s impetus was to “take our country back”, then here are some green shoots of abandonment to go with your smashing blue passport. In recent years, this area has been home to thousands of Lithuanians and Portuguese, who have impudently turned up to pick fruit, care for our elderly or, in Soham, open Portuguese coffee and tapas joints such as Dominika’s and A Tasca. Recent headlines, however, say the days of free-flowing foreigners to the region are over. They’re giving us a swerve, apparently, and the cheeky bastards are instead flitting off to warmer places with stronger currencies and where the locals didn’t expres s a preference that they do one.

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The perfect Irish barmbrack recipe | Felicity Cloake

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 06:00:26 GMT

A recipe for a rich fruit loaf that’s apt for a cuppa on Ireland’s patron saint’s day – or indeed with a little nightcap of whiskey ...

This Irish fruit loaf was once reserved for high days and holidays, particularly Halloween, but, like many seasonal treats, it’s now increasingly available year round, and especially in the run-up to St Patrick’s Day – my own local bakery has been producing them since mid-February. As its Irish language name bairín breac (speckled bread) suggests, barmbrack has much in common with the Welsh bara brith: a plain, yet richly fruited bread that’s well suited to a generous topping of butter, and an excellent accompaniment to a pot of tea.

That’s not the end of its attractions, however: barmbrack can also tell your fortune, as James Joyce’s short story Clay describes. Traditionally, barmbrack was stuffed with charms before baking, with significance for those who found them in their slice: the ring meant you’d be married within the year, the pea the opposite; the stick foretold dispute, the silver coin good fortune and a piece of cloth suggested you’d be better off hiding under the duvet for the foreseeable future. Not bad going for a mere fruitcake.

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Meera Sodha’s recipe for squash coconut fry with seed and peel chutney

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:00:05 GMT

This dish uses the whole butternut squash – skin, seeds, pulp and all – to make a no-waste dinner that scores on all fronts

My friend Aditya comes from Someshwar, a village in the foothills of the Western Ghats in Karnataka. There, snake gods are worshipped, everyone has the same surname (Bhakta) and they never knowingly waste any edible part of a vegetable. Today’s recipe is based on one he taught me using plantains. I was so transfixed by the idea that the peel, something I would ordinarily chuck away, could be transformed into such a heavenly chutney that I tried it with squash, too. Luckily, it worked.

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Rachel Roddy’s classic Neapolitan puttanesca sauce recipe

Tue, 13 Mar 2018 12:00:39 GMT

Regardless of its etymology, puttanesca’s allure lies in its complex, salty-sweet, umami flavours made from the humblest of ingredients – just tomato, garlic, chilli, anchovy, capers and olives

There are various stories about the origins of spaghetti alla puttanesca; various translations, too: whore’s spaghetti, tart’s spaghetti; I have even heard it called lady-of-the-night spaghetti.

As much as I like Neapolitan tales of seductively coloured clothes, satisfied customers and meals cooked between clients, the story that always comes into my mind is the hungry group rolling up to a trattoria late and demanding the owner “faccia una puttanata qualsiasi”. Now, in this context, puttanata translates as “a rubbish thing”, so you could translate this – clumsily maybe – as “make me whatever rubbish you have”. Now this is Naples and, as we all know, no one ever eats rubbish in Naples – especially in the stories recounted by English food writers in Rome. The puttanesca rumbled up in that kitchen was a thing of sapid beauty, a tangle of spaghetti with a deeply flavoured sauce of tomato, garlic, chilli and the inimitable three: anchovy, capers, olives. Such a thing of beauty that it became a much-requested dish known as puttanesca.

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Go big or go alone: how to bag a table at the hottest restaurants

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 16:40:34 GMT

The Lost Kitchen, a vastly oversubscribed restaurant in Maine, is taking only handwritten postal bookings this year. But not every in-demand eaterie requires you to put pen to paper – here are eight ways to get a seat at the toughest tables

Would you send a restaurant a hand-written note to secure a table? You’ll need to if you want to eat at Erin French’s the Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine. No reservations by phone, email, text or WhatsApp – just requests sent by post, with lucky diners chosen at random. French had to do something to deal with the demand: her restaurant seats just 40, and there were 10,000 phone calls when reservations for 2018 opened last April.

Fortunately, few places to eat are quite as oversubscribed as the Lost Kitchen. But with long waits to get into the most popular, and the irresistible rise of no-reservation restaurants, here are a few tips for getting the table you really want.

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Felicity Cloake’s hot cross buns recipe | Felicity Cloake’s masterclass

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 16:04:11 GMT

Felicity Cloake’s step-by-step approach to the quintessential Easter treat

These may have been available in shops since February (and it seems to get earlier every year), but it does spoil the fun of making your own. They may take some time to prep but are all part of the pre-Easter ritual.

Prep 3 hr (inc proving)
Bake 25 min
Makes 16

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Thomasina Miers’ recipe for fish cakes with wild garlic messine

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 14:00:05 GMT

As wild garlic comes into season, use it to create the perfect sauce to accompany all sorts of springtime dishes, such as these cod and salmon fishcakes

The deliciously silky, buttery and piquant sauce messine is from an Elizabeth David classic, created in postwar Britain when ingredients such as cream and butter became available to the public again. It is a wonderful foil for the new season’s wild garlic, now sprouting up in woodlands across the country and in most farmers’ markets. If you can’t find any, substitute with watercress leaves and a plump garlic clove.

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2017's best restaurant – Pidgin, east London

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 10:00:28 GMT

Their menu changes weekly and no dish is repeated – the winner, as voted by OFM readers, is a small restaurant that’s big on creativity

When the public ballot opened for this year’s Best Restaurant, James Ramsden sent a tweet to his then near-17,000 followers: “If you vote for Pidgin in the #ofmawards I’ll personally empty your dishwasher.” Now the east London restaurant he co-owns has won – by some margin, as it happens – does he not regret making that offer?

The 31-year-old Ramsden laughs. “Yeah, it was actually a fairly clumsily written tweet, but I’m glad it was, because it was meant to say ‘…for a year’. As far as is practical, though, I will honour the offer. I mean, it’s a bit of a weird thing to do, to call me up and say …”

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If you want to eat out, you should fork out

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 12:00:35 GMT

Don’t moan about the cost of a restaurant meal – unless you don’t care about paying the chef and the waiter properly

How much are you willing to pay for someone else to cook your dinner, bring it to you in a nice room and then do the washing up? If recent news from the restaurant industry is anything to go by the answer is: nowhere near enough. Jamie Oliver is to close a dozen branches of his Italian chain, and flog his upmarket Barbecoa grills. Bang go a bunch of Stradas, bang go 20 Byrons, bang go 100 Prezzos. And alongside the chains there are myriad independents calling it a day. The ice buckets are overflowing with blood.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. Us modern Brits were meant to have become like the French and Italians; a cosmopolitan, gastronomically literate nation who understood the difference between polenta and couscous; for whom restaurant going had become an ingrained habit. Report after report said so. They talked about “long-term demographic and consumer trends”. And yet the economics tell another, more brutal story. We aren’t prepared to pay enough for it. We aren’t prepared to pay enough for the people cooking the food to be paid a decent wage for working reasonable hours.

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for tinned pulses

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 09:00:29 GMT

It takes little time and effort to transform a forgotten can of chickpeas or butterbeans into a winning salad, main course or side dish

A can of pulses is the best pantry friend you can have. Yes, there are other serious contenders for that title, but, for me, there is no other bagged, jarred or tinned food that offers such a headstart in creating a quick meal that tastes as if it has been cooked slowly, carefully and thoughtfully from 100% raw ingredients. So, next time you see an old tin of chickpeas lurking at the back the cupboard, bring it out, say hello and get it to do its wonderful thing for you.

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Adam Liaw: I've finally got my makeup down to the core essentials

Tue, 28 Nov 2017 23:59:55 GMT

For our series Beauty and the books, the cook discusses the nostalgia of fragrance and the thesaurus he can’t put down

A former lawyer turned MasterChef winner, Adam Liaw is known for his Asian fusion recipes and hosting SBS’s Destination Flavour. He talks about finally getting his TV makeup down to the bare essentials, the nostalgia of fragrance and how a Japanese manga series taught him more than he expected.

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Forget fruitcake: Harry and Meghan aren’t the only ones to prefer a slice of something springlike

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 16:30:11 GMT

The royal couple have broken with tradition to choose a lemon and elderflower wedding cake. From pineapple and banana to lavender, there are plenty of other great flavours this season

Not content with all the other nuptial traditions that they are happily smashing down to plight their troths, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have gone for the big one: they are not having a fruitcake.

Every royal wedding since that of Harry’s great-great-great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria has been celebrated with a slice of something solid enough to prop up the entire dynasty. The maverick couple, though, have announced they will be cutting into an organic lemon and elderflower cake decorated with buttercream and fresh flowers: “the bright flavours of spring”.

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Pairing wine with Asian food? Use your noodle

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 15:00:39 GMT

Sake, pinot gris and some light lagers partner nearly as well with various Asian dishes as jasmine tea

What do you drink with noodles? Two answers come to most people’s minds, I’m guessing: “lager” or “you don’t”.

I get both points of view. Wet noodle dishes, such as pho, have their own liquid incorporated, and I never feel the need for more with it. With other spicy noodle dishes, such as Singapore noodles, lager ticks the box pretty well, for instance Tiger Asian lager, £1.89 for 640ml at Iceland, or £2.19 at the Co-op, was originally from Singapore, but is now brewed under licence in the UK by Heineken).

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Nigel Slater’s bubble and swede recipe

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:00:38 GMT

A vegetarian dish that’s perfect for a warming midweek supper

Peel 750g of swede then cut it into large chunks. Place the swede in a steamer basket over a pan of boiling water, then cook it for about 30 minutes until soft.

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Rachel Roddy’s recipe for hazelnut biscotti

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:00:38 GMT

These twice-baked snacks are a true taste of Italy

“Bis!” is what Italians shout insistently at the end of a concert in the hope of another song. “Bis”? is also what you might be asked by the person with the serving spoons if you have finished your lasagne and are seen eyeing up the dish hopefully. Bis means encore, again, more; and when put before cotto (cooked), bis means again, or twice, so biscotto means twice-cooked. The word comes from the Latin panis biscotus – bread cooked twice – which is the same root as the word biscuit. Would I like a biscuit? Yes please: a rich tea from a just-opened packet to have with my tea; the last two slightly bent and squidgy ginger nuts to have with my hot chocolate, or a three-inch hazelnut biscotti to have with my red wine.

These days, both biscotto and biscuit are all-embracing terms and not necessarily twice-cooked. The tradition, though, of baking twice, traditionally for conservation reasons, is still common in Italy. Different regions have different ways and names: the cantuccini and tozzetti, the baicoli veneziani, biscotti di Prato and countless others. What they all have in common is that they are hard, sometimes fiendishly so – I once lost a filling and a bit of tooth to tozzetti made with honey from a town called Velletri – and they follow more or less the same formula: a dough of sugar or honey and flour – possibly enriched with eggs, fat or alcohol – is flavoured with nuts, dried or candied fruit or fennel seeds, baked in loaves, cut, then baked again. It not uncommon for biscotti recipes in classic books to have few or no quantities; instead you will find the inimitable qb (quanto basta), or as much as is necessary, which assumes you know your ingredients and how you like your biscuits. One such recipe is in my book of Roman food and feels like a slightly ambiguous sketch, suggesting 1kg of nuts, another of honey, flour qb, plus any other flavours you fancy. You then cook them, twice, until they are done. I suppose it makes sense: unfussy biscotti of this sort easily become an exercise in qb, by eye rather than scale. But a template is helpful to start. Here is mine, based on a recipe by Ada Boni; treat it lightly and vary as you wish.

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Six of the best Irish recipes for St Patrick's Day

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 13:00:05 GMT

From a warming colcannon soup to juicy baked oysters, these traditional dishes showcase the best of the Emerald Isle

Prep 20 min
Cook 3-4 hr
Serves 4-6

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Sticky Fingers Bakery's beetroot and rose truffle cake recipe

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 21:35:50 GMT

Vegetables are not just for dinner as this self-taught baker discovered when she transformed her sweet treats with help from the garden

I love digging my hands into butter and sugar just as much as groping around in the earth. For me, baking and gardening are inseparable; but I took the long way home to make this connection.

I started Sticky Fingers Bakery when the cupcake craze hit the world. A self-taught baker, I threw myself in the deep end, baking tiny cakes full of punchy attitude and big flavours. Blending traditional baked goods with offbeat ingredients made my menus a bit of a hit around town and as my client list grew so did the scale and scope of my cakes.

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Masterclass: chow mein recipe | Felicity Cloake

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 12:00:35 GMT

These stir-fried noodles are a takeaway staple, but there’s still a technique to cooking them to crunchy-umami perfection

Chow mein, or stir-fried noodles, may not feature on many menus in the People’s Republic of China, but, authentic or not, it remains a staple of Chinese restaurants from Kolkata to Kentucky. Slick with soy and crunchy with veg, chow mein is quick, easy and infinitely more delicious hot from the wok than from a tepid takeaway box.

Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 2

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Beyond Guinness: what to drink this St Patrick’s Day

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 15:00:08 GMT

Make a change from the Guinness or Baileys, and widen your horizons with a smooth whiskey or apple port

lt’s easy to caricature the Irish drinks scene, especially on St Patrick’s Day, when you get the impression that the entire world is drinking Guinness. Or are they these days? I was so disappointed by the way Guinness tasted last time I was in Dublin – far, far too cold – that I won’t easily be persuaded again, let alone by its new offering, Guinness Golden Ale.

I’m not a Baileys kinda girl, either – particularly when I’m expected to pay £20 a bottle (at time of writing) for it. That’s likely to be down significantly by today, but even then I’d be surprised if it’s cheaper than Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Irish Cream Liqueur (£12.50 for one litre; 17%), which continues to be the best own brand I’ve tasted, and has a real kick of Irish whiskey to it.

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Tom Kitchin’s recipe for peppered fillet steaks

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 12:06:34 GMT

A genuine classic, above and beyond changing tastes and fads – this is perfect for those times when you’re looking to show off a little

This is a classic, a dish that will never go out of fashion. If you’re looking for a treat or to impress someone, this is at the top of my list. Whenever I make this recipe, I look forward to the moment when the steaks are returned to the pan to be covered in sauce. At that point, I just know how good it’s going to taste.

(Serves 4)

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Cocktail of the week: Thai sabai

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 16:00:53 GMT

A blend of Thai rum, Thai basil and fresh lime is the taste of Thailand in cocktail form

Sabai means “cosy” in Thai, which is an apt description for this fragrant, refreshing drink. The combination of authentic Thai rum, fresh lime and Thai basil is a taste of Thailand in cocktail form. Serves 1

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OFM Awards 2017: Best Sunday Lunch – the runners-up

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 10:00:28 GMT

OFM readers vote for their favourite roasts – from well-hung beef in Wales to whole suckling pig in Nottingham

Blacklock, Soho
This chophouse scooped this award last year for its superlative roasts. Joints are slow-roasted over coals, there’s a £20 all-in meat platter, and you can wash it all down with a breakfast martini.
24 Great Windmill St, W1D 7LG; 020 3441 6996

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Channel 4 hits sweet spot with Bake Off as it seeks new sponsor

Fri, 26 Jan 2018 18:06:10 GMT

Broadcaster raises cost to £5m making series most lucrative for broadcaster since Big Brother

Channel 4 is on the hunt for a new sponsor for The Great British Bake Off at a pumped up price, after the new-look show defied critics and proved to be the broadcaster’s biggest hit in decades.

Sponsors Lyle’s golden syrup and baking product maker Dr Oetker are understood not to be seeking to renew their one-year deal, which turned out to be a bargain given the huge success of Channel 4’s first series.

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Farm Girl Café, Chelsea: ‘We don't stay for dessert, because we have suffered enough’ – restaurant review | Jay Rayner

Sun, 11 Mar 2018 06:00:39 GMT

The food was so bad, a nearby Yorkshire terrier started to look more appetising

Farm Girl Café, 9 Park Walk, London SW10 0AJ (020 3674 7359). Meal for two, including drinks and service £110

The menu at the Farm Girl Café features lots of initials. There’s V for Vegan. There’s GF for Gluten Free. There’s DF for Dairy Free. I think they’re missing a few. There should be TF for Taste Free and JF for Joy Free and AAHYWEH for Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here. If you examine the company’s website, and I would only advise doing so if you have strong teeth that can cope with a good grinding, you will learn that the Farm Girl group offers: “A holistic and healthy yet comfortingly simple approach to Australian Café culture.” Nope, me neither. Apparently, they like to use “nutritionally nurturing ingredients”, which sounds rather nice. I could have done with a bit of nurture, rather than the dishes that came our way.

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Anna Jones’s recipes for leeks and spring onions

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 12:00:05 GMT

Whether you’re looking for sweet butteriness or a more intense bite, these alliums have a versatility and depth of flavour that is highlighted in these two dishes

Now is the moment for the year’s first sweet leeks and spring onions. Spring onions cook so quickly that, often, if I want something on the table quickly with the depth that only an allium can bring, I’ll use them instead of regular yellow onions of onions . I also like to char them whole, chop them through a salsa verde and Mexican tomato salsa, and roast them whole in a tray of roasted roots. Leeks are different; I love to cook them slowly with a little oil or butter and a pinch of salt to add natural sweetness this way and an almost buttery texture to dishes. So, this week’s recipes are based on I give you two tricksI use all the time in the kitchen: one to bring out the sweetness of leeks, the other to take the sting out of spring onions’ tails.

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Classic Mary Berry review – who needs Mel’n’Sue when you have a Swedish caveman?

Mon, 26 Feb 2018 21:00:26 GMT

Our host enjoyed a spot of outdoor cooking – and a sprinkle of outrageous flirting – with Michelin-starred chef Niklas Ekstedt

If you had to guess what Mary Berry would cook in a show called Classic Mary Berry (BBC One), I think you might get one dish – possibly more – correct. Perhaps not her eggs benedict florentine, since it is an amalgamation (“Why have one when you can have both together?” she asks, reasonably). But you might guess that her breakfast would involve bacon, toasted muffins (English ones, naturally) and poached eggs.

Mmm, it does looks good. She makes the hollandaise look like a breeze. But I have an issue with the whirlpool system of poaching: how can you do that if you are poaching more than one egg, which you almost certainly would be if you were doing eggs benedict florentine? You can’t make lots of vortices in one pan, can you? Staggered breakfast?

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Bubbling up: why ‘craft’ sparkling water is being toasted by soft drink lovers

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:10:47 GMT

Carbonated water is making a splash as sugary drinks are ditched for healthier options with Instagram-ready packaging. But do we really need water sommeliers?

It’s getting to the point where buying a plastic bottle of still water marks you out as some kind of environmental vandal. But sparkling water? Somehow that’s different. That says you have good taste and care about “clean” drinking. Sparkling water in a can? You’re obviously health-conscious, fashionable and environmentally aware.

The sparkling water wars are upon us, or are at least kicking off in the US and could be heading our way. Last month, PepsiCo launched Bubly, a range of flavoured sparkling waters, packaged in cute, brightly coloured cans. It is going up against the market leader, a brand called La Croix, which has become a hit despite eschewing traditional advertising.

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Six of the best pho recipes

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 06:00:44 GMT

From the traditional beef soup to a dry vegan version, these Vietnamese noodle dishes bring deep and rich flavours enlivened by the brightness of fresh, crisp garnishes

Prep 30 min
Cook 1 hr 10 min
Serves 6

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United Chip, London: ‘Brilliant sauces and rather good chips’ – restaurant review

Sun, 18 Mar 2018 06:00:01 GMT

Opening a fully sustainable chippy could so easily come a cropper. But this place is spot on

United Chip, 5 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5PE (020 7490 0069). Meal for two, excluding drinks: £25 (at most)

United Chip may be the bravest restaurant opening in years. Sure, you can open an izakaya or a ceviche place, something niche with a dreadful concept, and a few people will have an opinion on that. Some will consider themselves experts. But open a chippy? Suddenly, the ranks of those standing in judgment upon you will stretch away to the vanishing point, like the court in A Matter of Life and Death. (You haven’t seen it? You really must.) We all have an opinion on what makes a good chippy. We are all of us alert to pretentiousness or, worse still, to a belief that the wheel has been reinvented. The wheel is perfectly fine as it is, thanks.

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Salt, Stratford-upon-Avon: ‘I want this restaurant to be great’ | Jay Rayner

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 05:00:21 GMT

Paul Foster won top awards as a young chef, now he’s got his own place in the Midlands. And Jay feels fully vindicated

Salt, 8 Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6HB (01789 263 566). Meal for two, including drinks and service: £70-£110

Paul Foster is living other chefs’ fantasies. He has the thing they all want: the small but perfectly formed restaurant where he can be himself. From a distance he has made this look effortless. I’m sure it wasn’t. I first ate his food at a hotel in Suffolk I had never heard of back in 2011, where he was ravaging the river banks for ingredients, pairing roasted chicken wings with brown shrimps and laying pieces of hake on swollen beads of bright green tapioca, flavoured with fiery wild watercress so it looked like frogspawn. There was a poise and balance to his cooking that won him a bunch of awards, including the Observer Food Monthly young chef of the year award. Which is obviously The Only Award Worth Winning.

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