A matter of musical taste

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Providing one form of nocturnal entertainment has proved too confining for many club venues. Ever-increasing competition has forced them to broaden their entertainment horizons.

In the past, clubbers were grateful if they could buy an ice pole and a hot dog. Perhaps pioneering clubbers are maturing, as many venues are inviting us to spend an evening dining before burning off calories on adjoining dancefloors.

If you're interested in combining your culinary and clubbing itineraries, Legends (29 Old Burlington Street, W1; 0171-437 9933) is a good place to start. Dancefloor rhythms prevail in the basement, while the upper floor boasts a stylish bar and VIP dining area.

You don't have to be a celebrity to eat there - an advance booking will suffice. The food is excellent, and, unlike other nightspots which traditionally offer dining facilities (eg Cafe de Paris and Atlantic Bar), it remains within the price range of people who aren't television stars, do not have trust funds or work for Camelot.

"A lot of people want to eat before they go out," says functions manager Natasha Russell. "Why not eat first at the venue where you're going clubbing?

"Guests' tastes may not be as extravagant as if they were going to a conventional restaurant; ultimately they're coming through the door to go to a club, not necessarily to have a major gastronomic experience."

The menu ranges from Cumberland sausages and mash to fettucini; two courses costs pounds 17.50, three courses pounds 21.50.

Through the summer, there are few better clubs to eat in. The adjacent bar is just as bustling as the dancefloor downstairs, and when the nights get warm, the windows separating the terrace from the street are opened up.

With a swimming pool and a restaurant, Cafe del Aqua, to complement its dancefloors, The Aquarium (256-260 Old Street, EC1; 0171-729 9779) offers a full range of dancefloor distractions. Open 9pm-3am, these provide munchie food at its best: nachos, burgers, chips, baguettes and steak sandwiches, for around pounds 5 a dish. They are situated in an adjoining room, so you can eat surrounded by nightlife vibes and still be heard without shouting.

Emporium (62 Kingly Street, W1; 0171-734 3190) remains one of the best- looking clubs in London, and its restaurant is perfectly situated overlooking the main area of the club. The restaurant has a Moroccan flavour and a set weekend menu from pounds 25.

Lovers of Latin music have plenty of opportunity to sample corresponding cuisine. Little Havana (1 Leicester Place, WC2; 0171-287 0101), El Fuego (1a Pudding Lane, EC3; 0171-929 3366) and Bar Salsa (96 Charing Cross Road, WC2; 0171-379 3277) all combine South American rhythms with excellent Latin food.

When The End opened a couple of years ago, it raised the style stakes (musically and aesthetically) in a stagnant London club scene; their new restaurant/bar, AKA (18 West Central Street, WC1; 0171-419 9199, above), looks set to do the same in the gastronomic department.

Situated next door to the club, AKA has a split-level interior with exposed brickwork and a neo-industrial feel. A British bar menu is provided downstairs, while upstairs, on the mezzanine floor, an excellent a la carte menu is available. A three-course meal costs around pounds 20, and your only problem will be dragging yourself out of the comfortable leather chairs to get to the club below.

With a late licence (3am), ISDN link-ups, live music and cinema screenings, AKA. is already attracting a loyal and stylish following.