JIM AINSWORTH RECOMMENDS

Click to follow
HIGHLANDS

At the traffic lights (there is only one set) turn up the hill, then left and down the drive to find The Cross, Tweed Mill Brae, Ardbroilach Road, Kingussie (01540-661166). Tony and Ruth Hadley occupy this converted mill by a stream, and comfortable bedrooms take the strain of those who succumb to the exceptional wine list. Ruth's cooking makes a virtue of simplicity in Gigha goat's cheese with onion confit, salmon and spinach tart, or classic venison Francatelli: pink fillet with a sauce of redcurrants and port. Five-course meals (the second of which is soup) end with cheese or maybe rich chocolate whisky laird. Show even a flicker of interest in wine and Tony will find something you have never tasted before but always wanted to. Don't hesitate to take his advice. Open Wed to Mon dinner only, 7-9, pounds 35 plus wine. Access, Visa

LONDON

Hilaire, 68 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 (0171-584 8993), is an old stager, and Bryan Webb must have been here for the best part of a decade, during which he has combined consistency with high quality. Webb's Welshness crops up in Lady Llanover's salt duck with chutney, and in laverbread that might be teamed with oysters or sea bass. But the food ranges into curried aubergine and crab soup, roast cod with haricot beans, or calf sweetbreads with potato and olive cake. Thai dips, onion chutney, horseradish cream, and ginger and lime butter all add to the lively feel, yet the food is carefully produced, not experimental. Finish with steamed ginger pudding, or white and dark chocolate terrine. Service and wines are both extremely good and the menu changes daily. Open Mon to Fri lunch, 12.30- 2.30, Mon to Sat dinner, 6.30-11.30. Set lunch and supper pounds 16.50 (2 courses). Set dinner pounds 32.50 (4 courses), or allow around pounds 30 from the carte. Major credit cards

CAMBRIDGESHIRE

The thatched, beamed and informal Pheasant Inn, Keyston (01832-710241) is halfway between a pub and a restaurant: eat the same food perched at the bar, or sitting at a proper table in the Red Room. Martin Lee, who trained under Raymond Blanc, turns out terrine of chicken livers with shitake mushrooms and a spiced onion confit; home- cured gravadlax; fillet of cod with a toasted herb crust; roast loin of lamb with ratatouille and basil pasta; as well as a long line of puddings from rich dark chocolate tart to pancakes with coconut ice cream and maple syrup. Adnams or Flowers may be on tap, but Huntsbridge (which owns a few other pub-restaurants in the area) takes its wines very seriously, arranging the list by style, and offering really exciting bottles at very fair prices. Open all week 12-2, 6-10 (Sun 7-10). Around pounds 20 for three courses, or you can snack for under pounds 10. Major credit cards

LONDON

Brian Turner is a chef who can't resist the limelight. Watch a food programme on television, go to a cookery demonstration or pop into Turner's, 87- 89 Walton Street, London SW3 (0171-584 6711) and sooner or later you are bound to come across the genial Yorkshireman in his chef's whites. He is sharp rather than blunt, and his food is very French: foie gras and artichoke, roast pigeon with cabbage, pink calf kidney. Even desserts lean in that direction, including white chocolate and raspberry ripple and tarte tatin with pears. If you don't mind a limited choice, go for the exceptionally good value lunch (two courses for pounds 9.95, three for pounds 13.50) and feast off a salad of confit of duck, then brill and scallops with spinach, and lemon and chocolate tart. Open Sun to Fri lunch, 12-2.30, all week dinner, 7.30-11.15 (Sun 6.30-9.30). Set lunch as above (Sun pounds 19.50), set dinner from pounds 23.50 to pounds 32 (two courses), to pounds 26.50 or pounds 38.75 (three courses). Major credit cards

is a far cry from the touristy norm, and

along the lines of John Dory

Comments