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The Independent Culture
The philosophy is simple: proper food in a pub atmosphere, with real ales, a come-as-you-are approach and cooking which does not rely on a deep fat fryer and a microwave.

The Havelock Tavern, 57 Masbro Road, W14 (0171-603 5374), is the latest pub to forsake chicken- in-a-basket for cod with salsa verde and lentils. It has had a coat of paint: thick gloss in a plummy, sloe-gin sort of brown. A neighbourhood mix of bankers in coloured jumpers and girls with bare midriffs congregate around wooden, schoolhouse-style tables. Food is big and beautifully cooked: chef Johnny Houghton did time at 192 and Boyd's Restaurant; sous-chef Jim Garven is from The Brackenbury. Chicken liver parfait with toast and chutney; steamed cockles and clams in a white wine, parsley and garlic sauce. Come here before everyone else does. Annie Bell

Lunch 12.30-2.30pm, dinner 7-10pm, Bar 11am-11pm. 3 courses, pounds 11-17. No credit cards

City refugees after a country pub with a sophisticated, London feel should try Sir Charles Napier, Spriggs Alley, near Chinnor, Oxfordshire (01494-483011). The menu is determinedly metropolitan, the decor idiosyncratic. Marble backs and bottoms crouch in the shrubberies alongside dreadlocked figures made of rusty wire. Eat on the vine-entwined terrace, or in a civilised dining room. Fashionable fare includes aubergine polenta cake with tomato and mozzarella, crostini of pigeon with truffle oil, char-grilled sea bream with lemon grass. Fine, extensive wine list. Caroline Stacey

Open Tue-Sat 12.30-2.30pm, 7-10pm, Sun 12.30-3.30pm. 3 courses excl. wine, pounds 20-25. Major credit cards, except Diner's

Tucked away in the beautiful, rolling hills of the South Downs, The White Horse Inn, High Street, Chilgrove, West Sussex (01243-535219), works in timeless English country fashion. Eat formally in the restaurant or lightly at the bar, or picnic at tables on the lawn. The cooking has an old-fashioned quality: local wood pigeon in port wine sauce; salad of quails' eggs and asparagus. Emily Green Lunch and dinner Tue-Sat, 12noon-2pm and 7-9.30pm. Set Lunch pounds 17.50, set Dinner pounds 23. Individual dishes may be chosen from the menu. Major credit cards, except Amex

The Three Horseshoes, Madingley (01954-210221), is set in a picturesque thatched village two miles or so outside Cambridge. The menu has a fierce, modern, Mediterranean accent: marinated Italian vegetables with mozzarella, spinach and ricotta torte, grilled lamb with polenta. This works, more often than not, resulting in vivid, cohesive dishes shot through with generosity and enthusiasm. Top-drawer puddings. David Mabey 3 courses, about pounds 44 for two incl. wine. Open for lunch 12noon-2pm, dinner 6.30-10pm (Sun 7-9.30pm). All major credit cards

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