Bites

Modern classics
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Looking for good food without frills or silly prices? Cosy needn't mean cluttered, gems don't have to dazzle. As at Ibla, dark-red or green walls, wood panelling and not too much daylight - the opposite of minimalist - lend all these a timeless appeal and earn them a place in my heart. I recommend them.

Looking for good food without frills or silly prices? Cosy needn't mean cluttered, gems don't have to dazzle. As at Ibla, dark-red or green walls, wood panelling and not too much daylight - the opposite of minimalist - lend all these a timeless appeal and earn them a place in my heart. I recommend them.

Andrew Edmunds, 46 Lexington St, London W1 (020-7437 5708). Daily lunch and dinner. Dark, conspiratorial spot for literary lunching and dining. Has some space on the ground floor, more in the basement. Updated bistro food, along the lines of pork terrine with chutney, daube of venison or red mullet, comes to £20-£25 for three courses. It's cramped, clubby, the food's variable - not everyone's glass of claret. But the wines are extraordinary, mark-ups low and the goodwill's infectious.

Prospect Grill, 4-6 Garrick St, London WC2 (020-7379 0412). Mon-Sat lunch and dinner. The Prospect has an unobtrusive appeal, with reddish walls, tobacco leather banquettes, dark wood booths and table lamps creating a studious intimacy. Anglo-American food marries the best of both worlds - Morecambe Bay potted shrimps for starters, a very fine burger (all meat's organic), calf's liver or grilled swordfish; chocolate brownie for afters. £20-£30 a head with drinks; £15 for two pre-theatre courses.

French House Dining Room, 49 Dean St, London W1 (020-7437 2477). Mon-Sat lunch and dinner. Above a famously louche pub, this mottled, lacquered-red room exudes an old boho-Soho conviviality. Robust English-ish food such as pork belly and lentils with green sauce, or lemon sole with tartar sauce and treacle tart to finish, from a short, daily-changing menu, is priced keenly. £25-£30 a head.

The Goose, Britwell Salome, near Watlington, Oxfordshire (01491 612304). Tue-Sat lunch and dinner, Sun lunch. Village pub in the Chilterns where the emphasis is on eating and quality shines through, though without too much fuss. Grilled turbot with spinach and rosti; saddle of lamb with potato purée and winter vegetable ragout are typical of the straightforward treatment of superb ingredients. Kelims, dark-green walls in the dining-room and a pinky-red hue to the bar echo the bold simplicity. Set-price lunch is only £10; dinner's £20 for two, £25 for three courses.

Three Tuns, Bishops Castle, Shropshire (01588 638797). Mon-Sat lunch and dinner, Sun lunch. Best known for beers such as Three Tuns XXX, Offa and Old Scrooge, brewed in the Victorian brewhouse out the back, this also serves good food without going so far as to be a gastropub: rabbit, leek and cider casserole, beef in ale and venison sausages for less than £10. Book to eat in the handsome, panelled room given over to dining, with sturdy tables and settles to sit on.

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