Bites: Venues with castle connections

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The Independent Online

The restaurant inside this handsome town-centre hotel is a champion of British food, albeit served by French staff.

The Castle Hotel

The restaurant inside this handsome town-centre hotel is a champion of British food, albeit served by French staff. Proprietor Kit Chapman works describes Richard Guest as "the most imaginative and energetic" chef he's ever had. With predecessors such as Gary Rhodes that's some boast. Guest elevates the British ingredients and traditions to the highest level of restaurant cooking, with dishes such as pigeon pie with quince jelly and herb salad as a starter; sea bass on warm truffles; and main courses of turbot, venison or duck. Set lunch is £16.95 for two courses, £19.95 for three; dinner is £29 for two courses, £35 for three.

Castle Green, Taunton, Somerset (01823 272671). Mon-Sat lunch and dinner, Sun lunch.

Castle House

The cooking at La Rive -- the restaurant in this grand, stuccoed hotel -- is elaborate, summoning a panoply of techniques and showing them off on a different fancy plate for each course. The price isn't bad either, considering the effort involved. Lunch is £18.95 for three courses; set dinner is £29.95 and includes canapés, amuse bouche and pre-dessert, so you could call it six. Even the lunch doesn't stint on technical prowess and luxury: "pressing" of duck and foie gras, aubergine chutney and sherry jelly for starters; fillet of Hereford (naturally) beef, braised celeriac, crushed root vegetables and oxtail won ton; plum parfait, star anise ice, ginger shortbread and citrus syrup for pudding.

Castle Street, Hereford (01432 365909). Daily lunch and dinner.

Crown & Castle Hotel

The hotel and pub taken over by food writer Ruth Watson and her husband has become a hit with media-ish metropolitans retreating to the Suffolk marshes. Informal and easy on the eye, it offers uncomplicated fare and some of the area's best attractions -- Adnams ale and Orford oysters, for instance. Dogs are welcome in the hotel; children are too and have their own menu. Lunch is top-quality pubby: Parma ham and melon, omelette, oysters, crab cake; top whack £14.50 for a steak. Dinner in the Trinity Restaurant is robust and gratifying: Morecambe Bay potted shrimps; belly of pork with Spanish sausage, green beans, piquillo peppers and rouille. £20-£25 without wines.

Orford, Suffolk (01394 450205). Mon-Sat lunch and dinner, Sun lunch.

Windsor Castle

This is one of the homeliest, least spoilt pubs anywhere. One big break with tradition, though: there's no ploughman's. Instead, you get bangers and mash, chicken Caesar salad, and yes, salmon steak with pak-choi, at around £7. Drinks include London Pride, Adnams ale, draught Hoegaarden, Caffrey's and Guinness.

114 Campden Hill Road, London W8 (020-7243 9551). Mon-Sat midday-11pm, Sun midday-10.30pm.

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