Where shall we meet in SW3?

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The Independent Culture
Chances are, if you like to lunch, you also like to shop. Newly arrived on the King's Road, and going great guns with those lunching ladies, who, although there is little left among the chain stores on the main drag now to tempt them, still pop in and out of the handy boutiques on the Chelsea side streets, is Cafe Milan.

This long, cool venue - cafe at the front, more formal restaurant at the back - caters to the refined tastes of these ladies from morning pastries to late-night stickies throughout the week, and, in the spirit of added value, has also opened an little delicatessen selling all those Italian goodies that round off a dinner table beautifully.

There are biscotti, figs wrapped in chocolate, breads and pastries, oils and vinegars, all presented in those stylish boxes, jars and bottles that show the donor to be a person of refinement as well as taste. They also do a range of classy gelati for you to pop in a pot and take into the cinema over the road with you. I've got my Christmas list sorted out already, and it all comes from here.

The eatery, meanwhile, is a significant addition to an area that is surprisingly short on places to feed considering the per capita income of the local population. Modern in tone and casual in flavour, and with a hotline to the fattest queen olives in London, they do one of my favourite Italian things, stand-up antipasti, which you can have as a main course if you feel like skipping the pasta.

A lovely man stands behind a groaning smorgasbord and scoops little helpings of vitello tonnato, roasted fennel, cherry tomatoes with baby mozzarellas, giant prawns, salmon, a plethora of vegetables and salads, onto your plate.

We had it as a starter, and followed it with a scampi risotto that was generously stuffed with the fish ingredients. Definitely the place to stock up during a hard day's shopping.

Cafe Milan, 312 King's Rd, London SW3 (0171-351 0101)


The V&A Cromwell Rd, SW7 (0171-581 2159) Classy fare

Leith's at the Design Museum Shad Thames, SE1 (0171-357 8992) Fabulous food

Blubird Garage 350 King's Rd, SW3 (0171-559 1000) Yuppie delicacies

Revival Cafe at Hales Gallery 70 Deptford High St, SE8 (0181-694 1194) Eat in the courtyard