Turl Street Kitchen, 16-17 Turl Street Oxford

At a scrubbed wooden table, a dapper, Rumpole-ish gentleman is taking lunch, in immaculate suit and wide red braces. Behind him, also eating alone, is a troll in human form – a small, wild-haired oldster wearing a plunging singlet and very short shorts, his abundantly furry chest and shoulders on proud display. Both of these unlikely fellow diners look perfectly at home.

Grain Store, Granary Square, 1-3 Stable Street, London

Lisa Markwell finds a new vegetable nirvana behind an old transport hub.

The Talbot Hotel, Yorkersgate, Malton, North Yorkshire

Following a deafening dinner at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen a few years ago, when twenty-somethings maintained a roundelay of "Happy Birthday" for much of the evening, I've steered clear of restaurants run by TV chefs. So it was with trepidation that I entered the refurbished mansion (Pevsner: "probably c.1840") that houses the Talbot Hotel in Malton, North Yorkshire, since the owners Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland and his son Tom have installed local boy James Martin, an ornament of Saturday Kitchen and other televisual bonbons, as executive chef.

The Shed, 122 Palace Gardens Terrace, London

Amol Rajan finds brotherly love at a new family-run restaurant in west London

Restaurant 1701, Bevis Marks Synagogue, London

Well, this is awkward. I've arranged to meet David Baddiel at Restaurant 1701, a smart new kosher restaurant in the grounds of Britain's oldest synagogue, but I'm having trouble finding it. David has phoned me to say he has arrived, and "it's much more Jewish than I was expecting".

The Fish & Chip Shop, 189 Upper Street, Islington, London

Des McDonald's name is legendary in the food business – the legends in question being Midas and Croesus. When Nick Lander published The Art of the Restaurateur last year, McDonald was one of its stars. An Irish baker's son, he opened two restaurants in the City of London by the age of 22 and become executive chef of Caprice Holdings, founded by Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, the chaps who triumphantly revamped The Ivy, Scotts of Mayfair, Le Caprice and J Sheekey.

Christopher's, 18 Wellington Street London WC2

How many restaurants which survive for more than 10 years are actually any good? In the restless churn of the London food scene, the answer is arguably: not very many. Chefs move on, managers are poached, the owner loses interest and that exciting new concept grows as stale as last week's leftovers. Inevitably, the sizzle subsides and the quality drops. At which point, it's only a matter of time before the nice chap from Cote, or Jamie's Italian, or Bill's comes knocking to ask about the lease.

Master & Servant, 8-9 Hoxton Square, London

Amol Rajan goes nose-to-tail in the heart of Hoxton

Oblix, Level 32, The Shard, London

"So, I go to London Bridge Station," I said to the Oblix phone lady. "Then what?"

Jamie Oliver's Diner, 23a Shaftesbury Avenue, London

Lisa Markwell checks out Jamie Oliver’s reinvention of the classic diner.

Kaspar's Seafood Bar & Grill, The Savoy, London

The scene opens with a man and woman, smart of suit and high of heel, sashaying through the marbled lobby of the Savoy. Giddy with fun on this special night, our golden couple trips past the winter garden gazebo, swerving around blocky Americans and gossamer-haired dowagers, to reach their destination, the famous riverside restaurant.

Heaton, Butler and Bayne, Floral Street, London

Could this former stained-glass factory become a theatreland favourite, asks Amol Rajan.

Red House, 2 Elystan Street, London

The American invasion of London continues. It seems only yesterday that Keith McNally opened a simulacrum of his New York brasserie Balthazar, to reviews that found the food pedestrian. The Shake Shack burger franchise will soon explode upon Covent Garden, along with the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co in the Trocadero, Piccadilly, while the hip New York hotelier André Balazs will open a new joint with a fancy grill in Marylebone. Soon you won't be able to move in London for luxuriantly-priced USDA steaks, seafood platters and ingenious deployments of quinoa.

The Potato Merchant, 55 Exmouth Market, London

What could go wrong with a restaurant dedicated to the humble potato, asks Lisa Markwell.

Restaurant Story, 201 Tooley Street, London SE1

Can you judge a book by its cover? Not in the case of Story, the white-hot new restaurant housed in what looks like a garden centre on a traffic island just south of the Thames in Bermondsey.

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