Bistros and brasseries - relaxed and robust - complement today's grand, flagship restaurants.

Marco Pierre White, youngest chef ever to gain three stars (for The Restaurant at the Hyde Park Hotel), has worked (and since fallen out) with Michael Caine at the Canteen in Chelsea, and worked with Rocco Forte at The Criterion Brasserie Marco Pierre White (0171-930 0488), 224 Piccadilly, W1. Its location in the heart of touristland belies its Byzantine interior. This is truly a great date restaurant. The kitchen is good, too, churning out faultless dishes. To start, try mussel soup with saffron, or spaghetti of langoustine with rocket. Top-notch fish - roast cod with piperade and sauce rouille, poached haddock with bubble and squeak and bearnaise - and robust dishes such as roast suckling pig with black pudding; and of course, the famous MPW lemon tart. Open lunch midday-2.30pm, dinner 5.30- 12pm. All major credit cards

Steven Bull's restaurants have always had a eye for detail and design. His first, off Marylebone High Street, drew many admirers; he has since gained a Michelin star for Fulham Road. Steven Bull's Bistro (0171-490 1750), 71 St John Street, EC1 is a bold, minimalist establishment serving city workers and refugees from the Barbican. The menu, which changes regularly, concentrates on fish: peppered swordfish carpaccio with lemon, crab salad with shallot dressing; seared salmon with pousse and watercress salad. Choose carefully and eat well. Good desserts. Open Mon-Fri, lunch midday- 2.15pm, Mon-Sat, dinner 6.30-11pm. Access, Amex, Visa

Bruno Loubet opened Bistro Bruno (0171-734 4545), 63 Frith Street, W1 while head chef at the Michelin-starred Four Seasons Hotel. Here, too, the decor is minimalist and there is a short, varied menu. Cooking is packed with flavour - seared tuna and marinated anchovy salad; roast saddle of lamb stuffed with liver. Bruno's latest place is L'Odeon in Regent Street. Open Mon-Fri,12.30-2.30,pm, Mon-Sat dinner 6.15-11.30pm. Major credit cards