Euphorium, 203 Upper Street, N1 (0171-704 6909) sounds the inspiration of someone on laughing gas, and the name is writ so large across the tiny frontage that the letters are stacked three in a row, eye-chart style. Inside, above a tiny dining room, a stairway leading to the loos has a section of glass flooring, meaning guests in the banquette below can see up the skirts of women diners. The loos themselves have such large stainless steel designer sinks that it is a rather tight squeeze around them. Downstairs, decorations include fake fur and metal panels etched with absurdities, to the effect of "itchy itchy scratch". The service can be woefully slack, too Groucho Clubby for its own good, and the prices are too high for a restaurant determined to turn over tables twice, even three times, in an evening.
But the food is fantastic, wonderful, fab 'n' gear. For my money, it is among the best in London. The chef is Jeremy Lee, a madcap 31-year- old Scot from Dundee who trained with Simon Hopkinson at Bibendum, then spent many years with Alastair Little's kitchen in Soho. This is the big- flavour brigade, a circle of chefs who see no point in eating unless the flavours, textures and impact are distinct and lip-smacking. So one might find a potato salad to end all potato salads, studded with gherkins, given a salty edge by a touch of anchovy, and topped with crisply fried rashers of Italian smoked bacon. Or brill might be served crisp without, moist within, on rich mash with a crab and saffron sauce. Or a dark, boozy chocolate mousse. Open lunch Tue-Sun, dinner Tue-Sat. Lunch approx £20, dinner £30. Access, Visa
A restaurant in Shepherd's Bush named after its road, The Brackenbury, spawned this newish place named after its neighbourhood, The Chiswick, 131 Chiswick High Road, W4 (0181-994 6887). It sounds like a Thames-side place for noisy punters to park their posh canoes. Or a pub. Or a BBC espionage serial. But not a modern restaurant with a serious talent named Ian Bates in the kitchen. The dining room, with its hard acoustics and strange lavender colour scheme, is not to my taste. However, the food, particularly the grilled mackerel with potatoes and a bacon-studded mustard sauce, is worth killing for. Killing the mackerel, that is. Approx £30- £40. Open lunch daily, dinner Mon-Sat. Major credit cards
A Paris restaurant named "Bath Oliver" would, no doubt, sound chic. Likewise, the French get away with highly floral absurdity here. Take Interlude de Chavot, 5 Charlotte Street, W1 (0171-637 0222). Interlude de what? De who, actually. The Chavot refers to the young French chef, Eric Chavot. And while it is hard to construe a meal here as an interlude de him, it will probably be a very good meal, served in a delightfully pretty room by owners so thrilled to have a protg of Marco Pierre White in their kitchen that they practically purr to customers. Foodwise, think of dinky scallops with a dice of tomatoes, cunningly flavoured and for some reason called chutney. Think of a light smoked haddie and leek soup. Think of foie gras parfait with brioche. Approx £30-£40. Open lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat. Major credit cards
At the age of 30, Bruce Poole is such a very good chef that he is entirely deserving of having a restaurant named after him. Consider the options (The Poole Room, Bruce's Bistro, The Restaurant Bruce Poole) and one can see why he and partners settled for Chez Bruce, 2 Bellevue Road, SW17 (0181-672 0114). The decorators, unsure of the importance of being Bruce, went in for some queer fittings that bring a Mexican prison to mind. Not quite the setting for great, salt-and-pepper bistro cooking. Never mind, the food is great. Brill might come with herb-rich roast courgettes, a leek tart will have crisp pastry and a loose, luxurious filling. There are 65 wines by the glass, and the veteran French manager Maurice Bernard is the graceful face of professionalism. Open lunch Tue-Fri, dinner Mon- Sat. Two-course set-price lunch £12.50, three-course £15; two-course dinner £15, three-course £18.50. Major credit cardsReuse content