Bites: Bistros

Caroline Stacey picks four new-wave French restaurants
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Le Chardon d'Or

Ex-Le Gavroche chef Brian Maule cooks modern classical French, inspired by his Roux-brothers background. Opened four months ago, the Victorian setting is soothingly comfortable and damask-napped, and the prices are very reasonable for such skill. The six-course tasting menu – a succession of precise little dishes including scallops with lardons and light pesto sauce, roast chump of lamb with aubergine caviar, and two desserts – is £35. Eating three courses from the regular menu won't be more than £30. Lunch is £12 for two courses, £15 for three.
176 West Regent St, Glasgow (0141 248 3801). Mon-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner.

The French Table

A stunning summer opening in the riverside 'burb that's more charmant than its name suggests. Eric and Sarah Guignard came from the other end of London – Islington – where they ran the White Onion. Eric is from France, and his cooking captures, distils and advances the spirit of French cuisine at its best. Examples: roast quail in honey and pepper with figs and celeriac for starters, caramelised pork belly with confit cabbage, crisp bacon and girolle craquelin, chocolate moeulleax with apricot sorbet. All this for around £25.
85 Maple Road, Surbiton, Surrey (020-8399 2365). Tue-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner, Sun lunch.

Les Trois Garçons

Serious French cooking at prices a little too serious for those who take the place at face value – and the face could be that of a stuffed giraffe wearing a paste tiara. Décor's big on taxidermy and diamanté. This high Victorian pub, converted into a high camp restaurant, opened a year ago and has gained a reputation for cheek and chic in a shabby part of the East End. But the food is quite something: duck liver with black truffles, apricots and roast figs; lobster bisque with scallop corals; halibut with baby vegetables; tournedos Rossini; chocolate fondant for pudding. For all this, you're looking at paying £40 without wine.
1 Club Row, London E1 (020-7613 1924). Mon-Sat dinner.

La Trouvaille

A pearl just off the oyster of Carnaby Street. They answer the phone in French, take orders in French, the chef's from Perigord, there's tripe, cardoon and potato soup, and pig's trotters for lunch. It's generally regional, leaning to the south west, invariably hearty but inventive, too. Pork belly with cream quenelle and preserved plums represents Gascony on a plate. Lunch £16.75, £19.50; dinner £30-£40 including wine. Downstairs there's a large table, for parties or sharing with strangers, where lunch is £20, dinner £25 for all you can eat from the food of a particular region – Burgundy, Normandy, Alsace and so on – and half a bottle of wine.
12A Newburgh St, London W1 (020-7287 8488). Mon-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner.

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