Manchester Malmaison Hotel Piccadilly, Manchester (0161-278 1000). Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner. The latest place to stay and eat in Manchester has a chef from Mash & Air in its brasserie. The menu doesn't strive for originality, with moules marinieres, fishcakes (pounds 9.50), liver and bacon (pounds 10.50), creme brulee or citron tart. But such confident simplicity makes it a popular port of call for business diners as well as residents of the hip hotel in a converted warehouse. pounds 20 or so for three courses without drink.
London The Room at The Halcyon Halcyon Hotel, 129 Holland Park Avenue, London W11 (0171-221 5411). Mon-Fri, Sun lunch, dinner daily. Discreet showbiz billet and lunch escape route for BBCniks has a restaurant beside a sunken patio - one of the hottest spots for alfresco lunching and brunching. Dinner at pounds 35 for two courses, pounds 43 for three, is not what the licence payers want to hear; lunch for pounds 18.50, pounds 23.50 should distress us less. Deceptively simple dishes such as grilled John Dory with tapenade and tomato fondu from Nico Ladenis-trained Martin Hadden, who also keeps a vegetarian clientele happy with their own menu, but not with lower prices.
Stefano Cavallini Restaurant The Halkin, 5 Halkin Street, London SW1 (0171-333 1234). Mon-Fri lunch, dinner daily. The chef earns top billing at this Belgravia hotel. Waiters wear Armani, and though neither the building nor the cooking are flashy, the combination suits the fashion sorority and a Euro crowd. Plates come dressed with Italian cooking at its most haute and modern (perfect risotto spread thinly). pounds 55 for a five-course set menu, pounds 60 from the carte, although lunch, topped and tailed, is pounds 25. Puddings such as pear poached in black pepper with Parmesan are refreshing; espresso is the strongest in London.
Edinburgh Hadrian's The Balmoral Hotel, 2 North Bridge, Edinburgh (0131- 557 5000). Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner. In contrast to the splendidly old-fashioned Balmoral, and in keeping with Sir Rocco Forte's philosophy that hotel restaurants should exert their own identity. The hotel is the first UK salvo in Forte's comeback, the restaurant is completely contemporary (wood floors, pistachio walls, sculpture) and updates the auld alliance with modern Scottish and French food (poached Tay salmon with sorrel and fromage frais; rump of Scottish lamb with Provencal garnish) that also cuts a dash. A la carte, with three courses just over pounds 20.
Cheltenham Le Petit Blanc The Queen's Hotel, The Promenade, Cheltenham (01242 266800). Daily noon- 11pm. Separate from the early Victorian hotel (although residents can get in through a back corridor), this Raymond Blanc diffusion brasserie is contrastingly modern. From a long, appetising and accessible menu, the Mediterranean is a common thread (roast lamb Provencale with fondant potato, pounds 12.75) with forays
in many other directions: duck breast with honey, five-spice and duck confit spring roll, pounds 12.75. Two-course lunch or early evening dinner is pounds 12, pounds 14 for three. Children are actively encouraged