Bites: Spice routes

The nation's best exotic cuisine
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Indy Lifestyle Online

L'Anis, 1 Kensington High Street, London W8 (020-7795 6533). Mon-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner, Sun lunch. Classically based but thoroughly modern, cooking at the converted bank is deft and delicious. Lunch and dinner is £25.50 for three courses, or there's a lighter, seasonal menu for around £20 for three courses. Current temptations include crab and salmon ravioli in crab bisque, with spring peas, and roast pork with confit pork belly, choucroute and ceps.

Ginger, 271 Ormeau Road, Belfast (02890 493143). Tue-Sat lunch and dinner, Sun brunch 12-4pm. Belfast's hottest new arrival doesn't have menus or a wine list. Go for the food, bring your own wine, and book early, as word is out. Simon McCance is armed with enough ideas to change the menu daily. Expect warm salad of black pudding or Thai salmon cakes, then halibut and parmesan risotto, chorizo and basil. Around £20 for three courses.

Juniper, 21 The Downs, Altrincham, Greater Manchester (0161-929 4008). Tue-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner. Chef Paul Kitching works to exacting standards in a small kitchen, producing lovingly crafted dishes. His technique is delicate, his dishes innovative and distinctive (curried cod, sauteed scallop, haggis beignet, crispy herbs with melon sauce as a starter; calves sweetbreads, duck foie gras, saffron, watercress and peanut sauce, pineapple syrup as a showcase main). Result: one of Greater Manchester's finest restaurants, as its Michelin star testifies. Lunch is a snip at £18 for three courses; dinner around £35, without drinks.

Tamarind, 20 Queen Street, London W1 (020-7629 3561). Mon-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner, Sun lunch and dinner. One of the two Indian restaurants recently beatified with one star (three stars = sanctified!) by Michelin, Atul Kochhar's North Indian but frontier-defying cooking is indeed exquisite. Go for tandoor-cooked kebabs, or curries ranging from rogan josh to salmon with crispy spinach. The bread is renowned. Gold leaf and lovely lighting distinguish the smart but restrained basement. Top-class prices, too: £30 without drinks.

Zafferano, 16 Lowndes Street, London SW1 (020-7235 5800). Daily lunch and dinner. Disarmingly simple, seasonal, utterly enjoyable, Zafferano is true to the essence of Italian cooking. Seafood salads, carpaccio, buckwheat pasta with Savoy cabbage, ravioli filled with oxtail are all memorable. And with bare brick walls, and lunch at £23.50 for three courses, dinner from £29.50 to £39.50, it's not quite as inaccessible as its Belgravia address and reputation suggest. Giorgio Locatelli, recently honoured as Outstanding Chef in the London Restaurant Awards, has moved on to Cecconi's but remains part-owner.