Restaurants: Bites - Money-spinners

Elegant spaces and upmarket locations: leading restaurants in former banks
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Bank 1 Kingsway, London WC2 (0171-379 9797). Daily lunch and dinner. Poised between the West End and the City, the name - rather than the ceiling of suspended sheets of glass and murals of Coney Island - gives away the building's past. Assured cooking takes place in a long, open kitchen and a vast crowd-pleasing menu ranges from breakfasts, to terrine of foie gras with fig jam, through caviare, crustacea, very fine fish, and sausage and mash. Count on a meal costing pounds 25 to pounds 30 without wine.

Chez Gerard 84-86 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1 (0171-833 1515). Mon-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner, Sun lunch. The latest branch of the steak- frites set-up, a few minutes from Sadler's Wells, occupies the old DCO bank - Dominion, Colonial, Overseas, don't you know. On one side of the divide is a cafe, for omelettes, seafood salads and so on; on the other, the restaurant majors in grilled meat and fish. A can't-fail French formula, done well. Around pounds 25 in the restaurant; lunch and pre-theatre meal is pounds 12.50 for two courses, three-course dinner is pounds 15.

Leftbank 79 Broad Street, Birmingham (0121 643 4464). Mon-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner. Formerly a Barclays banking hall, with high ceiling and solid features softened by candlelight, making it a first choice for romantic young professionals - though not a cheap date, with main courses starting at pounds 11.50 for vegetarian cassoulet. Food is substantial-sounding modern European: pressed pork and sausage terrine with apple compote; lamb shank, onion sauce and bubble-and-squeak; sole with scallops, aubergine galette and anchovy dressing. Lunch is around pounds 15 for three courses, dinner pounds 25 without wine.

Metropolitan 35 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne (0191 230 2306). Mon- Sat lunch and dinner. Opened two years ago, this spacious city-centre brasserie used to be an outpost of the Bank of England no less, and the boldly decorated space under the corniced ceiling is probably the biggest eating place in Newcastle. Zesty, mainly Mediterranean food is served all day, with a fixed-price menu at pounds 8.95 for two courses, pounds 11.95 for three, an early evening deal of a main course for pounds 3.50, and three-course a la carte for pounds 22.50. Typical dishes: roast cod, pease pudding, watercress salad and thyme oil; duck confit with Chinese greens and black bean salsa. For vegetarians, you might find caponata; or leek, potato and Wensleydale crumble.

One Lombard Street 1 Lombard Street, London EC3 (0171-929 6611). Mon- Fri lunch and dinner. Another gloriously restored City banking hall - in this case, the Scottish Provident building. Beneath magnificent glass domes, the open-all-day brasserie serves up a long, skilfully cooked menu mixing classic and modern: pig's trotter galette, crab and avocado salad with basil; clam stew with garlic, coriander, chilli and lemon grass broth. City prices - at least pounds 25 for three courses; at the back is a more expensive restaurant where you can expect to pay around pounds 35 and more.

Three Monkeys 136-140 Herne Hill, London SE24 (0171-738 5500). Tue-Sun lunch and dinner. A former branch of NatWest in south-east London which delivers stylish Indian cooking. The place is stunningly designed: dazzlingly white, with a gangplank entrance over the downstairs dining room leading to the ground-floor restaurant and open-plan kitchen. Richly sauced dishes such as anjeer gosht, lamb with a sauce thickened and sweetened with fig, vie for attention with classic tandoori and karahi dishes. Around pounds 25 a head for dinner, lunch is roughly half that. Caroline Stacey

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