Restaurants: Where shall we meet in SW11?

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It's a happy day when something good gets even better. The Drawing Room has been a much-loved south London secret for a number of years, having gradually worked itself up from being an antique shop that did snacks to a fully-fledged restaurant and bar, and helped Lavender Hill to go from being a spooky area with a single fried chicken shop to a place with a buzzing social scene. The likes of Bjork and Helen Mirren have been known to patronise the place, apparently.

And not surprisingly, for this is one of London's more beautiful - and camper - venues, being decked out in the shop's old stock and the products of the owners' obsession with car boot sales, flea markets and the like: the Moroccan-coloured turquoise-and-terracotta walls, hand-painted with gold friezes, are hung with a crazed assortment of deco clocks, all, like those on a Maltese church, telling different times. Tables are dressed with grand old curtains, one eats off a wonderful assortment of junk shop finds and the bar is filled with a collection of sofas. This has always been a special place: eccentric, occasionally chaotic, but always friendly above and beyond the call of duty.

And now they've got a splendid chef as well, in the form of Simon Rules, a Canadian who a couple of months ago forsook the mega-brasserie anonymity of Bank for the joy of presiding over his own kitchen. Simon is one of those people who you know could open your fridge, find a carrot, some old cous cous and half a carton of cranberry juice and produce a three- course meal. His home-made breads are practically meals in themselves. I had a seafood pastry from his hands recently, sweetly perfumed with star anise, light and buttery, that had me boring people for weeks, and he flips out, with jokey ease, those puds that have you slapping your friends' hands when they reach out for a taste. I'd happily have crossed the river for this place before: I'm thinking of moving in, now.

The Drawing Room, 103 Lavender Hill, London SW11 (0171-350 2564)

LAVENDER LIST

Nancy Lam's Enak Enak

56 Lavender Hill, SW11 (0171-924 3148)

Wonderful Far Eastern food

The Lavender 171 Lavender Hill, SW11 (0171-978 5242)

Yuppie bar, ambitious food

Old School Thai 147 Lavender Hill, SW11 (0171-228 2345)

Naff name, classy Thai

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