Bites: Tucked away above pubs and behind unprepossessing doors, Caroline Stacey discovers dining rooms of quality and style

Ard Ri Dining Room 88 Marylebone Lane, London W1 (0171-935 9311). Mon-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner. Large windows give the restaurant above the O'Conor Don - a superior, family-run Irish pub - appropriately grand proportions, slightly shabby furnishings add to the uncontrived effect of faded country house dining room. Tables are set with stiff white linen and heavy cutlery, plates come well laden with good Irish-influenced cooking: salmon souffle with mussel and dill cream sauce or jellied ham shank. There is also monkfish with colcannon, lamb shank with root vegetables and champ, pot-roast pheasant, and, of course, Irish stew. And oysters. It's pounds 25 for three courses without wine from a world-wide list.

The Cow Dining Room 89 Westbourne Park Road, London W11 (0171-221 0021). Dinner daily, Sun brunch. The restaurant above Tom (son of) Conran's Notting Hill Irish bar serves some of the best pub food around at prices that correspondingly raise it way above pub dining levels, although the setting is simply rustic. Main courses start at pounds 12.90 for an open lasagne of wild mushrooms and courgettes, up to pounds 15-odd for seared tuna with chargrilled polenta, baked tomato, olive and parsley salad or John Dory with roast Jerusalem artichokes, which illustrate the emphasis on seafood echoing the bar downstairs where Guinness chases fruits de mer. On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings there's a menu for pounds 18.95, the rest of the week three courses cost around pounds 25.

French House Dining Room 49 Dean Street, London W1 (0171-437 2477). Mon-Sat lunch and dinner. An intimate, smoky, slightly raffish air wafts up from the French House pub to the boxy, mottled-walled, first-floor dining room. It makes a comfortingly familiar habitat for a more genuinely old boho Soho crowd than slicker neighbours, and drawbacks such as the basement lavatories shared with the pub keep it that way. Which is not to say this isn't a tight little ship, with its splendidly to-the-point, generally English and offal-rich food at relatively keen prices. There might be sweetbread fritters with green sauce, smoked eel with beetroot and horseradish, then rabbit with chicory and mustard or baked plaice with samphire and parsley, with chunky veg priced separately. Puddings such as chocolate pot bring the bill up to pounds 20 for food.

The Dining Room 59A High Street, Reigate, Surrey (01737 226650). Mon- Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner. Anthony Tobin (from Ready Steady Cook) is executive chef at this Surrey restaurant that doesn't advertise itself with a flashy exterior - it's upstairs on the first floor, which gives an impression of exclusivity. The cooking has gone from strength to strength in a menu that fashionably and exuberantly mixes influences and bold flavours. Spicy marinated salmon with crisp popadoms, turmeric and caviare dressing, seared beef with mustard leaves and horseradish dressing or Moroccan spiced chicken with courgette and squash tagine. On the a la carte, starters are pounds 7.50, mains pounds 16.50, or there's a two-course menu for pounds 16.95 during the week, pounds 18.95 at weekends. Lunch is pounds 10 for two courses, pounds 13.50 for three.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
businessHow bosses are inventing unusual ways of making us work harder
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
news
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

    £40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

    C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

    £45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

    Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

    £55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

    Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

    Day In a Page

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?