As sprinkled on a really good cappuccino, which is made here with Illy coffee throughout the day and into the evening, when the café turns into a bistro. Soup, home-baked bread and veggie dishes during the day. In the evening, the à la carte menu could offer prawn and salmon skewer with Thai green curry sauce, chocolate truffle shortbread with apricot, or white chocolate and cinnamon ice cream for £20 or so. The chef/owner cooked at Peter Gabriel's nearby recording studio, so he should know his world flavas.

8 High Street, Corsham, Wiltshire (01249 701190)


Some of London's best and most luxurious Indian food in a basement made beautiful with a subtle sheen of gold and silver and lovely uplighting. Chef Alfred Prasad replaces Atul Kochhar, who made history by winning Tamarind a Michelin star. Unfussy yet fine cooking is essentially North Indian, with the tandoor oven at its heart. From £14.50 for the set lunch.

20 Queen Street, London W1 (020-7629 3561)


Pushing forward the culinary frontiers in the North-west, chef Paul Kitching's surburban restaurant is the toast of the region. Since building a larger kitchen and taking out more tables – there's dedication to more than just profit – it has gone from strength to strength. Exceptional, inventive dishes, such as roast lamb, crushed curried pinenuts, smoked salmon purée, sautéed salsify, peas, mint sauce and garlic beignets as a main course for £20. Or, for £95, try a surprise dinner of 20 courses – all tiny, mind. Lunch, at £15 for two courses and coffee, is a steal.

21 The Downs, Altrincham, Greater Manchester (0161 929 4008)


The word's Bengali for cumin, and Zeera, one of the stars of London's East End, has been here less than a year. You can't miss it – it's glass-fronted, orange, black and white inside and is underneath Piers Gough's footbridge. Cooked by Keralan chefs, dishes like xacuti (Goan prawn curry) and adrak ke panje (tandoori-baked lamb chops) show its ambitions are high.

554 Mile End Road, London E3 (020-8983 3111)