BRUNO LOUBET and Pierre Condou, the partners behind Bistrot Bruno, have at last secured suitably spacious premises for the vast restaurant they have been planning for the past year. The Odeon, a 200-seater serving Bruno's idiosyncratic modern bistro cooking for about pounds 25 a head, will open this autumn in a first-floor location at the bottom of Regent Street.

Quite how a third enormous eatery in the area - the premises lie about halfway between Quaglino's and the Atlantic Bar & Grill - will affect business at the other two, the Gastropod would not care to speculate. But the Atlantic, described as 'Quaglino's for clubbers' in the current issue of the Face magazine, is capitalising on its enormous popularity by opening for Sunday brunch from tomorrow.

AS A trial run, or simply for the hell of it, Dick Bradsell of the Atlantic invited some of his bartending cronies to his bar last Sunday, where they held an informal Martini-making contest and discussed the fine art of mixing drinks, along with some dissolute drink writers and unabashed bar flys, the Gastropod included.

The old school was represented by Peter Dorelli of the Savoy American Bar and Salvatore Calabrese of the Lanesborough, both attired in sober blue blazers bearing the badge of the UK Bartenders' Guild. They waxed lyrical about the austere beauty of the gin Martini, which they compared to a diamond: so pure, yet so multi-faceted. They reckoned the only drink that comes close to being as hard to make well is a Manhattan.

Which reminds the Gastropod that the folks from Maker's Mark bourbon are looking for a more-than-competent cocktail shaker to promote their brand in foreign parts. Interested barmen and barwomen should ring Maker's Mark on 071-371 1939.

READERS may remember our series last year devoted to incomprehensible or poorly translated 'recepis' (sic). Susan Wynne, of Meopham, Kent, does. Brushing up on her Swahili recently, she came across the following gem.

First, the ingredients, such as: 'Ghee for six wnches, mild spickes and wild spickes if enthusiasm permits (and) an ordered assembly of season productions from the bush.'

Then, the preparation: 'Four onions course and grilled in a pan ful. Put in clean water boiled. Cook with length without any heat. Make an available bird put in without sharp bones. Keep more putting with soft vegetable. Eat well with manner of preferings.'

The bold Ms Wynne has actually tried the recipe. 'Strangely, it makes an excellent curry,' she says.

TO celebrate the nutritional virtues of home-grown new potatoes, now in full season, the Potato Marketing Board has been honouring those who promote healthy eating. Among the winners are the Community Dietetic Services of Portsmouth and Leicestershire (for their efforts to educate the public), and the Bath Local Organic Buyers network (perhaps for having a wacky acronym).

Individual winners include: Chris Blount, who caters heroically for the appetites of the 200 women students at Nottingham University's Florence Boot hall of residence; and Hilary Bower of Gannets Bistro, widely regarded as the best place to eat in Newark.

No doubt both have favourite ways of enjoying new potatoes, but for anyone short of ideas, the board has put out a recipe booklet, evocatively entitled Summer Ways with Potatoes. For a free copy, send a stamped addressed envelope, size A5 or bigger, to: 5 Castle Quay, Castle Boulevard, Nottingham NG7 1FW.

And, if you are particularly keen on potato salad, there will be a treat for you next Weekend: Sophie Grigson will be writing on the subject.