Food & Drink: Bites

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The Independent Culture
Had enough fusion? Here are five traditional French restaurants to satisfy the most jaded palate

La Petite Auberge, 107 High Street, Great Missenden, Bucks (01494 865370). Mon-Sat dinner. Family restaurant in a pristine arrangement where hospitality makes up for atmosphere. Cooking above bistro - or auberge - standard. Fish soup and caramelised lemon tart are faultlessly carried off. Saucing is light, to point up excellent ingredients: scallops come with coriander, lemon, olive oil and tomato, lamb with a light tarragon sauce. pounds 25-pounds 30 for three courses without wines.

Clos du Roy, 1 Seven Dails, Saw Close, Bath (01225 444450). Daily lunch and dinner.

The pounds 9.95 for two courses, pounds 13.95 for three, menu du jour is available for lunch and pre-theatre with choices such as chicken supreme Chasseur and chocolate bavarois. Set-price dinner is pounds 16.50 or pounds 19.50. More elaborate a la carte dishes might be red mullet on ratatouille with yellow pepper coulis; turbot and crab ballotine with blackcurrant sauce - adding up to pounds 30-odd without drink.

Michels, 13 High Street, Ripley, Surrey (01483 224777). Tue-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner, Sun lunch.

French and expensive, but the cooking is exceptional, with main courses such as quail wrapped in cabbage leaf with Madeira sauce. Desserts reach double figures, but the three course lunch menu for pounds 18 has floating island with custard and almonds or cherry clafoutis. Also nearly a bargain: the no-choice, four-course gourmet dinner with wines at pounds 30.

Renaissance, Bath Street, Bakewell, Derbyshire (01629 812687). Tue-Sat lunch and dinner, Sun lunch.

A spacious, beamed old barn in a Bakewell backstreet with a well-considered menu featuring, say lobster and chicken sausage with spring onion puree, noisettes of lamb with red pepper sabayon, potato galette and tarragon sauce, and saffron merinue millefeuille with lime mousse, is a good price at pounds 19.95 for lunch and dinner. You must reserve.

Restaurant Bosquet, 97A Warwick Road, Kenilworth, Warwickshire (01926 852463). Tue-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner.

After 17 years, Bernard and Jane Lignier are standard-bearers for classic dishes of south-west France. Local ingredients plus the usual luxuries like truffles and foie gras combine to produce, say, sweetbreads with asparagus in pastry with truffle sauce, and saddle of venison with game stock and juniper berry sauce. The set menu is pounds 25, eating a la carte is around pounds 30 for three courses, no drink. A fine restaurant offering a rare experience.

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