St John

Inside, the whiter-than-white dining-room is filled with serious foodsters salivating over a menu that reads like a shopping list (rabbit and mustard; teal and lentils; chitterlings, kale and mustard). Out in the bar in the covered courtyard, the locals gather for an Old Spot bacon sarnie and a bit of fun. But avoid Friday nights, unless you like being squished from all sides by some very loud people in suits.

26 St John Street, London EC1, tel: 020 7251 0848


At the front, Baltic looks like your formulaic, modern, groovy, moody bar with copious quantities of flavoured vodka, and a cool crowd that knows enough not to daintily sip their chilled bisongrass Zubrowka. At the back is a vast, barn-like dining-room dispensing generous helpings of homely, honest Russian and Polish food, including marinated herrings, roast duck with red cabbage and apple, and chicken à la Kiev.

74 Blackfriars Road, London SE1, tel: 020 7928 1111

Metro Bar & Grill

This long-popular Brum eatery/ drinkery is a magnet for parched city types and upwardly mobiles, while the dining area at the back continues to be a friendly, well-serviced space in which to segue post-Negroni. The modern European food runs from spiced squid and tempura sardines, to spit-roasted lamb and stuffed guinea fowl with spiced lentils, with plates that can be as busy as the bartender.

73 Cornwall Street, Birmingham, tel: 0121 200 1911