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LANCASHIRE

Heathcote's Brasserie, 23 Winckley Square (01772-252732) means to be the Kensington Place of the North: large, loud and glamorous. The owner, Paul Heathcote, is something of a local hero, and runs a Michelin two- star down the road. The grub is still good at this new place, if cheaper. Oysters and light meals are served downstairs, hearty Lancashire hotpots upstairs. Cooking is far better than the spelling on the menu might suggest. There are well-chosen wines, including good Alsatian whites. Open daily lunch, 12-2.15pm, and dinner, 6-10.30pm. Two-course set lunch pounds 8.50; 3-courses pounds 10.50. About pounds 20-25

LONDON

There are those who complain, myself among them, that too many acolytes of the great chefs emerge only able to ape their masters. Eric Chavot, chef and co-proprietor of Interlude de Chavot, 5 Charlotte Street, W1 (0171-637 0222) is a protege of Nico Ladenis and Marco Pierre White. Indeed, Mr White stood as godfather of this restaurant, and was consultant to the fashioning of the pretty mirrored rooms. His mark is also clearly on the menu. This is where I, myself, stop complaining, for why gripe when one finds the likes of wood pigeon on a warm beetroot compote, or baked cod with a lentil salad, or roast saddle of rabbit on a pearl barley risotto? Open lunch Mon-Fri, 12-2.30pm, 2-course set menu pounds 15; dinner Mon-Sat, 7-10.30. About pounds 30-40. Major credit cards

SUFFOLK

The Old Boot House at Shotley (01473 787755) sits in the marshy farmland just east of Ipswich. The small bar and quaintly-propped dining room might look a bit twee, but the hospitality is honest and graceful. As any local will tell you, the food is good: there may be a bouillabaisse- style fish stew, roast lamb or prune and brandy ice-cream. Do not be surprised to find touches of kitchen artifice, be it a tiny croissant in your soup, or sculpted vegetables. Silly to sophisticates, maybe; I suspect it is more a nod of respect from the kitchen to local customers who dine as a special occasion, not a nightly habit. Open lunch Tues-Sun, 12-1.30, set price Sunday lunch; dinner Tues-Sat 7-8.30 (9.30 Sat). About pounds 20-30. Access, Visa

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