LONDON

Greek Valley, 130 Boundary Road, NW8 (0171-624 3217). On a crowded night, this somewhat dark but comfortable Greek Cypriot taverna in St John's Wood can positively glow with merriment. Even when empty, the welcome you receive here from the charming woman owner will always be warm. The food is well-prepared and generously portioned, but don't expect any "creative" culinary innovations. Open Mon-Sat, 6pm-midnight. Midweek special, Mon-Thurs, 3-courses, pounds 7.95; children's special, 2-courses, plus drink, pounds 5; for groups of 8 or more, 4-course, pounds 10, any day. About pounds 30 for two

Rodos, 59 St Giles High Street, WC2 (0171-836 3177). A Greek-Cypriot taverna standing in the shadow of the hideous Centre Point tower that offers a kind of spartan "island" authenticity along with one of the best fixed-price meal deals in London. If you order their pounds 15.95 mezedes menu, you will be brought course after course of delicious taverna specialities - hot and cold mezedes, various grills and vegetables, fruit or dessert - and accompany it with bottle after bottle of decent retsina. Open Mon- Sat, 12-2.30pm and 5.30-11pm. About pounds 25 for two a la carte

Lemonia, 89 Regents Park Road, NW1 (0171-586 7454). Booking is essential in the evenings for this large, rather bourgeois Greek-Cypriot restaurant in Primrose Hill. When it moved across the street a few years ago, it lost most of its intimate taverna atmosphere, but the consistent quality of its cooking and the bouyant atmosphere of dozens of north London professionals reliving their holidays makes for a fairly pleasant evening out. Open 12-3, Sun-Fri, 6-11.30 Mon-Sat. Three-course set lunch, Mon-Fri, pounds 7.95. A la carte for two will cost about pounds 40

MANCHESTER

Greek restaurants a cut above the rest outside London are few and far between, but the Good Food Guide recommends Kosmos Taverna, 248 Wilmslow Road, Manchester (0161-225 9106), which excels at some of the staples on its long menu of Cypriot standards, including grilled baby squid. The usual desserts are boosted with chocolate fudge cake and galatoboureko, a filo pastry roll of custard and honey. Open Mon-Thur, 6.30-11.30pm, Fri and Sat 6.30-midnight, Sun 1-11pm. About pounds 30 for two a la carte

LEEDS

The lively bouzouki music competing with traffic on the Leeds outer ring road on Tuesday nights emanates from the Olive Tree, 55 Rodley Road, Leeds (0113-256 9283). The AA/Abbeywell Best Restaurants in Britain guide recommends kleftiko (lamb cooked slowly in the oven with olive oil and oregano, or barbouna (red mullet with garlic sauce). Home-made desserts include the completely self-indulgent stafidhopitta - a crisp filo pastry filled with sultanas, orange liqueur and a hint of cinnamon. Open daily, lunch 12- 2.30pm, dinner 6-11.30pm. Three-course lunch and dinner, pounds 9.50, house wine pounds 7.95. About pounds 40 for two

Emily Green is away

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