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Cooking with attitude: A taste of things to come

1997 witnessed the continuing obsession with cookery, and food in general. London became still hipper, embracing an even broader range of culinary influences. But what are the necessary ingredients for success in 1998? Mick and Nick gaze into their crystal ball

What we want to know is will we eat and drink better next year? We hope so, for London is still the hippest city on the planet and getting better all the time.

Eating out in London is fab but travel out of the 0171- area and life gets harder. Travel outside 0181- and you'll show symptoms of malnutrition within hours. What we all hope for is that people out of London will start to demand better food and by so doing, the offering will improve. Soon, even life north of Watford will seem promising.

So what will the new trend be for eating out? We have seen the success of North African food, sushi, noodle bars and of course, the never-ending string of those dreadful themed eateries like the Rainforest Cafe, Fashion Cafe (do me a favour), Cheers and all the rest... To be avoided at all costs.

We have always fancied Nordic foods from Scandinavia as the brave new world to plunder inspiration from - so stay tuned.

In time, Sir Terence Conran will probably open another 10 or 12 2,000- seat restaurants and soon there will be a restaurant seat for every single person in London. That's about 15 million, so TC, get a move on - we are relying on you.

Visitors to London with a decent budget and a top guide will always get to eat well at the famous establishments, but local residents, traditionally, the poor relations, who normally rough it out in the suburbs, should be in for a better deal.

General levels of restaurant quality and service are improving all the time - so whether you live in Clapham, Islington or Notting Hill you're less likely to get a crap meal - and have to stay in next time with pizza and plonk (although supermarket wines are getting better value for money, with more choice on offer).

The missing factor? Service with a smile. For too long, diners have put up with inept waiting staff, normally students who moonlight and couldn't give a toss whether you get good service or not. What we need next is trained professional staff - then we really can stick two fingers up at the French!

`Winter Nosh', The Nosh Brothers new television series, will be transmitted on Carlton Food Network from 8 January