La #Dordogne 5 Devonshire Road, London W4 (0181-747 1836). Mon-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat, Sun dinner. Long-standing west London favourite makes a faithful representation of being in the part of France that is middle England's home from home. The illusion is kept up by French staff and a glass of kir included in the cover charge of pounds 1. Wines, too, come mainly from south-west France. Start with terrine of vegetables with tomato coulis, fish soup or mushroom feuillete, proceed to fillet of beef and potato pancake with Bergerac sauce, duck breast with blackcurrant, or turbot in saffron sauce, all at ungreedy prices (pounds 3.20 to pounds 6.70 for starters, pounds 9.20 to pounds 12.30 for mains). Gratifying if hardly ground breaking for pounds 25 to pounds 30 a head.
Roussillon 16 St Barnabas Street, London SW1 (0171-730 5550). Mon-Sat lunch and dinner. The name might misdirect expectations further west than chef Alexis Gauthier's Avignon origins. He's the reason for seeking out this restaurant that changed its name from Marabel's and its# decor from staid to encourage a wider audience, although locals had already taken it to their hearts. Cooking has a strongly seasonal and south-of-France bias, although fantastic English produce is sourced closer to home. Both the a la carte (pounds 25 to pounds 30 without drink) and the autumn menu (pounds 35 for five courses) tempt, with the likes of pumpkin risotto or roast salt cod, mashed potato with herbs and anchovy dressing, sea bass with capers, parsley and chickpea beignets, roast venison with celery root and truffle puree. Puddings are divided into fruit (tatin of almond and figs) and chocolate (pyramid of dark chocolate). Unusually, the garden menu (pounds 24 for four courses) is reason enough for vegetarians to visit for, say, purple artichoke, carrot, salsify and leek cooked in Balsamic dressing, and Swiss chard ravioli with a poached egg. Lunch is a steal at pounds 13.50 for two courses, pounds 16 for three. Good service is another plus.
Le P'tit Normand 185 Merton Road, London SW18 (0181-871 0233). Mon-Fri, Sun lunch and dinner, Sat dinner. A bistro-by-the-book look, with the inevitable red gingham tablecloths and Edith Piaf soundtrack, is redeemed by better-than-you'd expect cooking with all the necessary cream, apples and Calvados to earn its Norman name. The permanent menu is short and to the point, with soupe de poisson, black pudding and apples, moules or crepes Dieppoises to start with, pork fillet with honey or cote de veau Normande and daily fish from the blackboard, where there are also changing specials that are always worth investigating. Starters are pounds 3.25 to pounds 4.50, mains, pounds 8.95 to pounds 9.50, come with potatoes. Two-course lunch is pounds 5, Sunday lunch pounds 11.95. Expect homely presentationReuse content