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What Happens When a Beloved London Restaurant Gets Its Hero Dish Wrong?

Some honest critique stands out from Instagram’s breathless scroll of hype

Brat restaurant in Shoreditch’s Michelin star doesn’t make its turbot perfect every time Ben McMahon/Eater London

Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is Michelin-worthy.

News of the week

A week in which the Champions League Final coincided with the start of the UK’s first Cricket World Cup for twenty years saw sport trickle into the domain of food Instagram for a fleeting visit. Brits abroad in Madrid, restaurants embracing national teams, restaurant critics and food writers getting involved — the carnival spirit felt genuinely spontaneous, rather than the work of bandwagon-jumping cynics. Could the happy vibes continue all the way up to a first-ever England victory in the cricket final at Lord’s? Oh, maybe not.

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Madrileño breakfast.

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We’ve got suckling pig. And Alli.

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Honest caption of the week

Instagram’s reputation as a place for wall-to-wall positivity does have at least one downside: it can sometimes be hard to discern genuine quality in the midst of so much breathless hype. So there’s something noteworthy in an influential figure using a post to call attention to imperfections as well as highlights in a meal: after all, it is only through open and honest communication like this that restaurants can learn and improve. And if, as Danny Meyer has argued, a great restaurant doesn’t distinguish itself by how few mistakes it makes but by how well it handles the ones it does make, then instances like this are also an opportunity to demonstrate professionalism and class. A win-win for Instagram users and the restaurant affected? It’ll never catch on.

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Brat, May 2019. 1.6kg Cornish turbot. I like Brat, everything here is generally good and priced well, except for one problem - the cooking of their star product is very inconsistent. I’ve been here 4 times, always for turbot, and only really had it cooked perfectly once by @isobelittle. swipe 1.6kg isn’t all that big for wild turbot and imho isn’t as difficult to cook whole as something double its weight. This was a very heathy fish, let down by the cooking, heat travelling to the middle of the bones, all but turned white and opaque, its flesh losing nearly all moisture. While it is premium gear, it is not however impervious to temperature, when it is overdone, the texture is mushy, dry, tough as a tennis ball, as opposed to gelatinous, pearlescent flakes. It negates the entire experience, because you come for product quality and grilling expertise. There’s nothing else for the fish to hide behind. We did let the restaurant know, and they did agree it was over. To the restaurant’s credit, they took the turbot off our bill. We paid for everything else of course. Generous of them and excellent service, handling our complaint professionally. I don’t think I’m the first to note the inconsistencies , and I feel that others in town are better at grilling turbot over charcoal. Their pil-pil is good even though you have to whip the emulsion yourself, if they get it right more often, they would live up to the reputation they’ve garnered for themselves. Saying this, I’d still come back here for everything else such as the aged Dexter (with sauce on the side) and lobster. @bratrestaurant #londonrestaurant #londoneats #turbot #fish #grill

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Themed week of the week

Props to all involved at Max’s Sandwich Shop: this is how you commit to a bit. Although it is somewhat disappointing not to see the signature products being served on a special edition Jeffrey Goldbloomer.

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Just sayin’.....

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Too Much?

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Pâté en croûte of the week

Learn how to make this and other recipes like it in the forthcoming cookbook Salt, Fat, Acieed, Heat.

Gravity-defying storage solution of the week

F**king magnets, how do they work.

Staycation of the week

Hereby proving it is possible to Reagan not just for 24 hours but a full seven days.

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I should do a PhD in staycations. And aioli.

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My ideal tasting menu.

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Predictably perfect lunch at the ever-lovely @lyleslondon, with Saturday sunshine streaming in through the huge windows out from bustling Shoreditch into the calm, oasis of a dining hall, featuring plump Jersey rock oysters with the most refreshing sorrel granita; the crispest, most flavoursome Keats Farm leaves and peppery nasturtiums with creamy Spenwood cheese; gloriously buttery lamb sweetbreads with a supremely moppuppable summer stew of radishes, courgettes and broad beans (cue a second plate of @anna.atthetable's srsly sexy sourdough and silky homemade butter); potted Guinea fowl and pickled artichokes on fried toast (think the best foie gras you could ever put in your mouth, with a perfectly tangy foil, plus CRUNCH); fat asparagus with crispy fried pheasant eggs and wafer-thin flecks of salty cured goose; a rich and oozy Suffolk hogget and ramson crumpet (because who doesn't bloody ruddy love a crump? ); Lyle's' famous (for a damn good reason) smoked eel with Russian kale and dulse, plus the most stolen butter knives in London, according to @eveningstandardmagazine. (Ours remained within the building's four walls, don't panic.) A glorious feast from clever @christrundle1989 and his gang, with absolutely smashing wines to match after terrific advice and a few quick tastings from the fabulous front-of-house team, which perfectly set us up for Pudding Fest 2019 from @anna.atthetable....

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My favourite kind of Thai food at the family-run @singburi_e11 in Leytonstone this evening with @rangoonsisters and their beautiful families: big, punchy, authentic, colourful flavours, each dish completely unique and bursting with exciting combinations of fresh herbs and chillies and aromats, all sharp and sour and sweet and fragrant and lip-tingling and moreish, and cooked with heartfelt passion, generosity and flair. . We chose nothing from the regular menu (where you'll find your crowdpleasing pad thais, your spring rolls and your fish cakes), and absolutely everything from the daily specials blackboard, a glorious chalked collection of the even more exciting flavours of Thailand. . Goong pad bai cha plu (giant prawns in a wonderfully creamy, coconutty, Southern curry with betel leaves); gloriously refreshing and bold lamb nam tok neck fillet salad with mint, coriander, lemongrass, fish sauce, shallots, and lots of sharp lime (my favourite); moo krob crispy pork belly with chilli and garlic (crack crackling, on crack, essentially); the most fabulous chicken liver curry that all five of us went completely cuckoo over; a beautifully balanced mangosteen salad with prawn floss; an enormous bubbling cauldron of shellfish soup, all gingery and lemongrassy and packed with fat mussels and prawns the size of my upper thigh (post-staycation, too); chopped, dry-fried rabbit, a chopped quail and rocket jungle curry, a cold noodle salad in a spicy fish sauce; five rounds of lovely silky durian ice cream for the grown-ups and one busy little paw . I've been meaning to visit Singburi for SUCH an age; it is completely brilliant. I certainly won't leave it another 36 years before my next visit.

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Incongruous geotag of the week

Fans of chef and vermouth enthusiast Anthony Demetre have started to descend on [checks notes] the Sofitel St James, as he revives his much-loved Wild Honey in the hotel’s dining room.

Dish of the week

Elaborate plating: a defence.

Shot of the week

Elaborate plating: a rebuttal.

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