Bites

Calais Crossover
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Best booze bargains aren't in the centre of town , nor are acres of parking space. But the restaurants are - as much a reason for crossing the Channel. It's best to book; it's a long way to go just to shop at Sainsbury's on the outskirts.

Best booze bargains aren't in the centre of town , nor are acres of parking space. But the restaurants are - as much a reason for crossing the Channel. It's best to book; it's a long way to go just to shop at Sainsbury's on the outskirts.

La Pleiade, 32 Rue Jean-Quehen, Calais (00 33 3 21 34 03 70). Tue lunch and dinner, Wed lunch, Thur, Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner, Sun lunch and dinner. Close to the touristy Place d'Armes , but an exception to the mediocre rule. Food is superior bistro and excellent value. Set-price menus range from 95Fr to 165Fr, and the cheapest may offer half a dozen native oysters or tomato and goat's cheese tart to start, and slow-roast rabbit as a main course. Costing less than £20 (with wine), this fare is the reason it's worth crossing the Channel for lunch. The wine list is also good value, with gems such as half a bottle of Trimbach Riesling for 80Fr.

Histoire Ancienne, 20 Rue Royale, Calais (00 33 3 21 34 11 20). Mon lunch, Tue-Sat lunch and dinner. An art deco air gives this 50-seater town-centre brasserie more than average style, and the cooking marks it out. They describe it as a bistro à la Parisienne, but it's more ambitious than we Brits are used to (poached skate with grapefruit cream sauce) and has some earthy, offally Lyonnais dishes, such as pig's trotter or lamb's brains with sauce gribiche. There's a basic two-course deal for 63Fr, kids' menu for 45Fr, but the interest starts at 99Ff, with more luxury for 130Fr and 158Fr.

L'Aquar'aile, Plage de Calais, 255 Rue Jean Moulin, Calais (00 33 3 21 34 00 00). Tue-Sat lunch and dinner, Sun lunch. On the fourth floor of an apartment block on the beach, and with stunning views, this is top-flight, serving serious food with the emphasis on the sea. Local oysters are a speciality, but also fricassée of lamb's sweetbreads and wild boar stew on the prix fixe for 160Fr; menu gourmand is 230Fr. The wine list is extensive.

La Mer, 32 Rue de la Mer, Calais (00 33 3 21 96 17 72). Mon, Wed-Sun noon-midnight. Unusually for France, La Mer is open right through the day and evening offering a fine meal comprising superb seafood. Mussels are a speciality and feature in the formule express for 64.90Fr with a drink, and in the formule complet for 94.90Fr, where there's a choice of crab, escargots or terrine to start, moules, coq à la biÿre or salmon with bearnaise sauce and potatoes as a main, plus a drink. Eating à la carte won't top 200Fr.

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