Emily Green suggests Six hosts with the most welcoming manners

The people who greet us may have as much to do with the enjoyment of a meal as those in the kitchen. Here we highlight six hosts with the most.

FITZROVIA Elena Salvoni, a petite Clerkenwell Italian, will go down in history as the restaurant host of post-war Britain. She spent 30 years at the Soho restaurant Bianci's, which she refers to as "the birthplace of television". By 1981, a young restaurateur named Nick Lander (now restaurant critic of the Financial Times), had the wit to lure her to L'Escargot, where her persuasive charm reigned for a decade. When the place abruptly changed management several years ago, she left and the rumours flew that "Elena's friends" were to set her up in a new restaurant. One friend appears to have been industry player, television chef and owner of chain restaurants, Roy Ackerman. Alas, to judge by a recent meal, this gentleman's company, The Restaurant Partnership, may be using her fine name, and charm, to shift food that is rather too high in price and low in quality at the seven-week-old Elena's Etoile, 30 Charlotte Street, W1 (071-636 7189). After consuming two courses that involved tough bean salads, poor quality tournedos, mealy chips and thin bearnaise, and consuming two glasses of house wine (white warm, red oxidised), two of us managed to spend £53.90. Open lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat. Major credit cards.

COVENT GARDEN Since Terence Conran opened Neal Street, 26 Neal Street, WC2 (071-836 8368) in 1971, there have been two legendary managers. First was Charles Campbell, an eccentric whose boozy bonhomie attracted the likes of Francis Bacon. The second (nowowner) was Antonio Carluccio (left), a bear-like Italian whose enthusiasm for fungi hunting has been documented by television programmes and books. Carluccio, however, is less a cook, even a "foodie", than greeter par excellence, whose enthusiasms are palpable, be they for honey mushrooms, malt whisky or his friend Paolozzi, whose artwork so suits the classic modernism of the place. Open lunch and dinner Mon-Sat. Approx £40-£50. Major credit cards.

MAYFAIR The difference between fleet hospitality and smarmy schtick becomes obvious when one witnesses the nimble grace of Silvano Giraldin at work. For 23 years, he has been maitre d'hotel at Le Gavroche, 43 Upper Brook Street, W1 (071-408 0881). This man, it seems, never forgets a face. If you order a certain red burgundy, he might gently enquire, "And would you like that very lightly chilled?" - a clue, but not a snotty declaration, that this improves the drinking. His customers will never feel mean opting for the bargain set-price lunch (3 courses, half bottle of wine, coffee, petit fours, service, for £37) because there is a choice of three items for each course; it is some of the best food anywhere; and Mr Giraldin is proud of the value. Open lunch and dinner Mon-Fri. Major credit cards.

PICCADILLY Sandra Feeham has been unmissable at Bentley's Oyster Bar, 15 Swallow Street (071-734 4756) for 20 years. This marvellous Ulsterwoman (above) is the one who might insist to a rather sozzled customer: "It's 3pm. You asked me to get you back to your office, and your office is where I'm getting you back to!" And the oysters are something special: a half-dozen Irish native number ones £14.75, number twos £13.25, half-dozen rock oysters £8.50. Oyster bar open noon-10pm Mon-Sat, with hot meals served between noon-2.30pm and 5.30-10pm. Major credit cards.

NOTTING HILL Everyone is special at Costa's Grill, 14 Hillgate Street, W8 (071-229 3794) but this praise is for Louis Papadopoulos, who for 20 years has treated poets, punks and old colonels with the same quiet hospitality. Hummus, grilled chicken and the Greek salad is one of my favourite meals. Note that it is called "grill" for a reason; baked dishes tend to be less satisfying. Open lunch and dinner Mon-Sat. Cash and cheques only. Approx £10-£15.

WANDSWORTH There is more than the best-tasting ribs this side of Chicago at a scruffy caff called Smokey Joe's, 131 Wandsworth High Street, SW18 (081-871 1785) ... there is the man himself. This remarkable Jamaican runs his place with just the right measure of pride and bonhomie. But his watchful (and strikingly blue) eyes tell the story. He might be amused, or wondering how to tell you he is saving the last portion of jerk chicken for a bus driver who is just about to come off his shift, or how to handlea troublemaker.

Ribs to take away £3.90; ribs dinner £4.80. Open noon-3pm, 6-11pm Mon-Fri; noon-11.30pm Sat; 2-10.30pm Sun. Cash and cheques only.

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor