Food For Thought: DINING OUT OF TOWN

Orange Balloon various branches

The restaurants are particularly popular with families at weekends when they have a magician who entertains at the table.

Branches at:

249 High Street, Berkhampstead, Herts (01442 878978); 83 Fore Street, Hertford (01992 535666); 150-152 High Street, Tonbridge, Kent (01732 368008); 58-62 The Green, Twickenham (0181-893 8998)

New branches are opening in the autumn at 2 Bromley Road, Beckenham (0181- 650 0999) and 50 High Street, Cranleigh, Surrey (01483 271555)

Pukkabar and Curry Hall 42 Sydenham Road, SE26 (0181-778 4629)

This new Indian bar and restaurant is open seven days a week for batch- cooked curries, as well as a variety of more traditional dishes.

The Firestation Rotisserie 12 Bank Street, Sevenoaks (01732 779022), above

This newly opened restaurant, set in a 19th-century former Gothic chapel, is the second Firestation (the first is in Bath). Its owner, Richard Fenton, is a former Hollywood chef to the stars (he has cooked for the likes of Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Burt Bacarach), and says he plans to bring a bit of Californian sunshine to the Kent town.

Chapter One New Fantail Building, Farnborough Common, Locksbottom, Kent (01689 854 848)

The old Fantail Restaurant, which had been going for 60 years and was more like a local club, has been newly transformed into what is known in the business as a "destination restaurant", ie one that people want to come to. It makes much of the fact that, unlike most of its central London competitors, it has car-parking right outside. Chapter Two was due to open in Blackheath (where it is not quite so easy to park) this summer, but it now looks like it will not be ready until the end of the year.

Belair House Gallery Road, Dulwich (0181-299 9788)

This beautifully located restaurant (the terraces overlook parkland) is a blessing for local business types and ladies who lunch as they no longer have to schlep into town for posh nosh. Belair House is also popular with families at weekends.

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