Restaurants: Bites - That's entertainment
From Wilma the singing waitress to the `deadly duo': more musical accompaniments
Saturday 05 December 1998
The Griffin Inn Fletching, Uckfield, East Sussex (01825 722890). Lunch and dinner daily. This 16th-century inn is energetically family-run, with accommodation, restaurant, great bar food, real ales, reasonable wines and jazz in the bar on riday nights and Sunday lunchtime. The family duo or trio of pianist, saxophonist and drummer plays jazzed-up familiar songs. Sunday lunch in the restaurant is pounds 17.50 for adults; a la carte dinner is around pounds 20 for three courses such as crab ravioli or Slipcote goat's cheese mousse with beetroot chutney, then fritto misto or pheasant with bacon, shallots and cider - cooking which combines local produce (fish from the Sussex coast) and wider influences with flair.
Maroush 21 Edgware Road, London W2 (0171-723 0773). Lunch and dinner daily. Those seduced into staying on after 11pm to watch the Arabic singers and belly dancer perform on the lower floor of this top-class Lebanese restaurant have to pay a minimum of pounds 48. The entertainment begins around 9pm, hence this premium on Thursday-Saturday nights to stop oglers sitting tight at their table until gone midnight for the price of a kebab; the rest of the week the post-11pm charge is pounds 35. Eat and leave before then and you just pay a la carte prices - the meze are pounds 4 to pounds 8 each, main- course grills pounds 12. Prices are the same on the entertainment-free but no less glitzy ground floor.
Pizza on the Park 11 Knightsbridge, London SW1 (0171-235 5273). Lunch and dinner daily. Owned by Peter Boizot, the jazz-loving originator of Pizza Express, this remains faithful to the Express formula, and to a programme of mainstream jazz - nothing too indigestible. The music takes place downstairs, with an admission of pounds 18 on the door, pounds 16 beforehand - unless someone such as Cleo Laine (7-12 December, pounds 30) is performing. You don't have to eat at the cabaret but can have the familiar pizzas, cannelloni, salads and so on for around pounds 15. The ground-floor restaurant also has a string quartet playing at Sunday lunchtime.
Tafarn Newydd Rosebush, Pembrokeshire, Wales (01437 532542). Mon, Wed- Sat lunch and dinner, Sun lunch. On Monday night, the "deadly duo" is a rolling pairing of semi-professional blues, folk and jazz musicians. Depending on the din in the bar, the jam session may permeate even to the non-smoking farthest of the three dining rooms of this respected pub-restaurant. Flagstone floors, attractive old furniture and candles are the setting for imaginative homely cooking by Diana Richards. The menu is generous in its range: duck leg with orange and cardamom, lamb shank, or cassoulet of venison, plus outstanding vegetables (and veggie main courses) and bread. Around pounds 20 all in.
The Walls Welsh Walls, Oswestry, Shropshire (01691 670970). Lunch and dinner daily. A local institution as much as a place to eat, this converted Victorian schoolhouse is decorated with theatrical eclecticism to appeal to all ages for all sorts of occasions. There are live music evenings (Hinge and Bracket in the past, Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band in the future - New Year's Eve 1999), usually on Friday nights, although less so during the party season; the next is Mike Sanchez and his Big Town Playboys on 21 December. Food in the dining room has lofty ambitions and prices for dishes that are exotic for a Borders market town. Whiskey- cured smoked salmon with chilli jam and sour cream, followed by roast halibut with a lime-leaf crust and pan-fried fennel comes to pounds 24 before anything else is added. The cheaper wine-bar menu plays safer, with pastas, pies, casseroles - mostly for less than pounds 10. Caroline Stacey
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