Restaurant digest

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Indy Lifestyle Online
LONDON

If restaurants, like books and movies, remained unchanged from the time I first reviewed them, then there would be no need for the following apology. A fortnight ago in this column I repeated lavish praise for the cooking of Ian Bates at the Chiswick, 131 Chiswick High Road, W4 (0181-994 6887) but muttered darkly about the furnishings and service. Having returned to the place since writing that, I should add that the rackety room has now been carpeted and the service has gone from chaotic to utterly welcoming and smooth. The food is still good. Open lunch Sun-Fri, 12.30-2.45pm; dinner Mon-Sat, 7-11.30pm. Two-course lunch and supper, from 7-8pm, pounds 8.50. About pounds 20-pounds 25. Visa, Access, Switch

There is less room for confusion at The Cook House, 56 Lower Richmond Road, SW15 (0181-785 2300). This tiny, unlicensed restaurant is bare bones: painted tables and chairs; one owner cooks, the other carries. It is the standard of food that surprises. Grilled tuna steak may come with wasabi, or fresh fried chicken livers with rosemary. Puddings are variable, but the chocolate ice-cream with a caramel tang is super. It merits bringing a good wine. Corkage pounds 1.45 per head. About pounds 22-pounds 25 for food, mineral water and service. Open Tue-Sat, dinner 7-11pm. Visa, Access, Switch. Vegetarian meals to order

SUFFOLK

Unlike the equivalents in France or Italy, the owners of country restaurants are usually amateurs, and it shows. Martha's Vineyard, 18 High Street, Nayland, Suffolk (01206-262 888) is a cottage restaurant with a difference: it has a sort of country chic, a Shaker Shop meets Liberty look. Its owners, a husband-and-wife team, are high-calibre professionals. Both worked at Gidleigh Park (the hotel in Devon, as opposed to the character in Rik Mayall's New Statesman). The cooking, by Larkin Rogers, does gutsy things with local produce, be they sauteed herring roe salad with bacon dressing, or duck rillettes with cornichons. The wine list, by Christopher Warren, is one of the best written and most keenly priced around. One may find Guigal's 1990 Rhone for pounds 16.50. Open dinner Thur-Sat, 7.30-9.30pm, lunch Sun, 12.30-2pm. Two courses, pounds 16.50, three pounds 20, average spend with wine, about pounds 25-pounds 30. No smoking. Visa, Access

WARWICKSHIRE

The best kleftico in the land may well be served at Simpson's, 101-103 Warwick Road Kenilworth, Warwickshire (01926-864567). If it is not on the menu, then the art to eating well here may well depend on selecting the Greek-sounding dishes, say, the grilled halloumi salad. The owner, Andreas Antona, is of Cypriot extraction. He trained in big London hotels before settling in the Midlands. The hotel background shows in various highly wrought, French-style dishes - which may be fine, but are no match for a braised shoulder of lamb, perfectly cooked and served with green beans and mash. Open lunch Mon-Fri, 12.30-2pm, dinner Mon-Sat, 7-10pm. Set price two-course meal pounds 18.95, three pounds 21.95. About pounds 30-pounds 40 all in. Vegetarian meals. Major credit and debit cards

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