Your usual table? Who eats where: Joan Bakewell, broadcaster
Sunday 15 November 1998
I loathe themed restaurants with their forced atmospheres, or anywhere obsessively foodie. It's all too precious and chokes me. Restaurants should be welcoming, not sycophantic, and full of quiet, interesting conversations. I like to combine eating with lots of talk. The best meal is one where good company is combined with a good welcome; these things underpin the warmth of the evening.
Living near the restaurant mecca of Regent's Park Road, I don't need to travel far for good food. The idea of crossing London to eat takes more energy than I've got. Many different cuisines are represented on this stretch of road, so you can ring the changes according to your mood. Limonia (89 Regent's Park Road, NW1, 0171 586 7454), in particular, does superb Greek food and is a restaurant full of jollity.
I love Indian food, although not lager-lout tandoori. I go to India quite a lot, a country not famous for its restaurants, despite its wonderful cuisine. One of the best meals I've ever had there was at the Usha Kiram Palace in Gwalior. Their delicious curried aubergine is gently spiced and just disintegrates on the plate.
Indian street food is also good, although you're not supposed to eat it because of tummy bugs. It's sold from stalls which are half bicycle, half ice-cream van. The food is hideous when they pander to European tastes, but wonderful when it's authentic. Eating curried potato after you've looked at a thousand monuments and you can't feel your feet any more, is a real pick-me-up. Railway stations are a great place to eat in India. All human life is there, bustling past, providing a great view to go with the food.
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