Food: Bites

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The Independent Culture
Looking for a venerable feed? A few restaurants rival Simpson's- in-the-Strand in age. Here are some of London's oldest, and one in Glasgow.

Rules, 35 Maiden Lane, London WC2 (0171-836 5314) Mon-Sat 12noon-11.15pm, Sun 12noon-10.15pm. Last year the oldest restaurant in London celebrated its bicentenary. Rules is Rules. Little altered over time, it has an enduring bonhomie. Rules specialises in game from its Pennines estate, and the Scotch beef is very fine. It's well run, and better than such a landmark might be expected to be. Graham Greene had every birthday dinner here. pounds 30-pounds 35 without wine; from 3pm to 6pm a starter and main course can be had for pounds 18.95.

Rogano, 11 Exchange Place, Glasgow (0141-248 4055) daily, lunch and dinner. Opened in 1935, the year the liner Queen Mary was built on the Clyde, and in the same Art Deco style. Behind porthole doors, Glasgow's oldest restaurant is a glorious chrome-and-mirrored classic, with mermaids etched on glass panels indicating the emphasis on seafood. Oysters or fish soup; sole grilled or meuniere, with main courses from pounds 17.50. Set- price lunch is pounds 16.50. Eat more cheaply in Cafe Rogano downstairs.

Criterion, 224 Piccadilly, London W1 (0171-930 0488) Mon-Sat lunch and dinner, Sun dinner. When Marco Pierre White took over this glorious neo- Byzantine restaurant, the marble walls and golden mosaic ceiling were enhanced by the wunderkind designer David Collins. Built with the Criterion Theatre in 1873, from the Blitz until the Eighties the interior was all but forgotten under false walls and ceilings while it was a Wimpy bar and all-night chemist. Classic French food now, for pounds 35 a head without drink. Set lunch and pre theatre meal costs pounds 14.95-pounds 17.95.

Quality Chop House, 94 Farringdon Road, London EC1 (0171-837 5093) Mon- Fri, Sun lunch and dinner, Sat dinner only. This original Victorian "Progressive Working Class Caterer" and purveyor of "London's noted cup of tea" had stayed in the same family until the chef Charles Fontaine took over nine years ago. He has faithfully extended what is now a noted diner for the chattering classes into the shop next door. Simple, classless and very good food extends from jellied eels to caviare, via smoked mackerel, salmon fishcake, Caesar salad, sausages and steak. pounds 25-odd.

Veeraswamy, mezzanine floor, Victory House, 101 Regent Street, London W1 (0171-734 1401) daily, lunch and dinner. After 72 years, new owners have expunged colonial associations with vibrant colours and clean, modern lines. The uniformed doorman is still there. The menu covers several Indian bases creditably, and prices are on a par with other West End restaurants - pounds 25 without drinks.

E Pellicci, 332 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 (0171-739 4873) Mon-Sat 6.30am-5pm. An East End caff that's been in the same Italian family for 90 years. The elaborate marquetry panelling, put up in 1944, has been featured in magazine photo shoots ever since. The menu's a period piece, too: home- made steak pie, lasagne or cannelloni for pounds 3.80; chops, escalope or steak for pounds 4-odd. For afters: crumbles, roly-polys, jelly, ice-cream.