Emily Green suggests Five cuisines in five parts of town from 80p to £15 a meal

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ITALIAN IN CHELSEA

Italians know better than to sneer at a man in a brand new leather jacket, which is why it makes sense to buy one in King's Road, then celebrate the purchase over a pizza at La Delizia (above), 63-65 Chelsea Manor Street, London SW3 (071-376 4111). Pies good, wine OK, waiters wonderful. Approx £10. Open daily 12noon-12midnight. It has two sister restaurants, one at 246 Old Brompton Road, SW5, the other in the Chelsea Farmer's Market in Sydney Street, SW3

FRENCH IN COVENT GARDEN

At the onset of the recession, the owner of that quaintest of French bistros, Mon Plaisir, 21 Monmouth Street, WC2 (071-836 7243) sounded perilously like the psychotic in Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle: "It will wash all the scum away," said Philippe Lhermitte. This is actually the voice of a Covent Garden old-timer, distressed by the crass commercialisation of the southern half of the quarter that followed the abolition of the GLC. This 51-year- old restaurant remains one of the great pleasures of the once-bohemian district. I have never strayed from the steak and frites formula (the frites are the thin, salty matchstick variety) and have never been disappointed. It's the sort of place one dreams of stumbling into, but it's best to book. Set-price three-course lunch £13.95; pre-theatre three-course dinner with coffee and wine £13.95. Open lunch Mon-Fri and dinner Mon-Sat. Access, Visa, Switch and Diner's

TURKISH IN DALSTON

The Mangal, 10 Arcola Street, off Stoke Newington Road, London E8 (071- 275 8981) is a Turkish "ocakbasi" restaurant, meaning grill. The place is small and smoky, its walls painted and tiled in blue. Ranks of freshly cubed and skewered liver, chicken and lamb sit in a glass case by the entrance. There will also be a lamb mince, spiced with what looks like onions, chillies and paprika. Look more closely, and the first sign that this is no kebab parlour is the tray of lamb sweetbreads and another filled with plucked and gutted quail.

Down one wall is a row of small laminated tables attended by two young, immaculate waiters in matching blue silk and brocade waistcoats. Opposite is the grill, attended by the owner, Ali Dirik. At one end he grills food, at the other is what looks like a charcoal-making operation. Out back is a baker turning out fresh, spongy flat loaves that will accompany each dish, firstly soup. Sheep's brain soup, to be exact, topped with chilli oil: a profoundly warming dish. The grills are remarkable for their freshness. To counter these spicy seared meats and roast peppers come bread, freshly grated carrot, sprigs of refreshing flat-leafed parsley and that sadly rare item, properly ripe tomatoes. Approx £4-£6. Unlicensed. Open 9am- 12midnight daily

EASTERN EUROPEAN IN HACKNEY

A photograph of Anita Dobson used to hang over the till of Beigel Bake, 159 Brick Lane, E1 (071-729 0616) but it was stolen. The motive is simple: the goddess of EastEnders was bound to go walkies in the most popular food shop in Hackney. Suspects? Very difficult: Beigel Bake (right) is open 24 hours a day, almost every day. And, for most of that time, the counter is lined with potential Dobson-snatchers. The beigels (spelled "bagels" west of Commercial Street) are made from heavy, Eastern European- style dough, which is boiled then baked. The bakers are an extraordinary bunch, including over the years Muslims and Jews working side by side. One I met was a defrocked rabbi who used to dance through his shift to disco music from his Walkman. The owner, Sammy Shalom, keeps prices low: 10p for plain beigels, 85p for one filled with salmon and cream cheese and (the best) 40p for one laden with chopped herring salad

PASTRY IN WATERLOO

It's small, it's purple, it's a bakery. And just now, Konditor & Cook, 22 Cornwall Road, London SE1 (071-261 0456) is the most attractive shop in London's gateway to Europe (aka Waterloo). It took a German, Gerhard Jenne, formerly of Justin de Blank in Knightsbridge, and his Irish colleague, Brian Mulcahy, to attack inner-city decay with doilys, lemon tarts and madeira cakes. From a fine brick-tiled, Manchester-built baker's oven they also produce quiches, Cornish pasties, pizzas, fruit pies and cakes. Takeaway "lunchboxes" have various stuff, say Greek salad, rice salad or guacamole. The chocolate sable biscuits that look like Bridget Riley paintings and taste delicious may be familiar from Aroma coffee shops; they are baked here and cost 35p each or £1.45 for six. Breads are from Sally Clarke and Justin de Blank. Quiches £1.80/slice. Morning coffee to take away 50-75p. Open Mon-Fri 7.30am-6pm

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