Restaurants: Light bites

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Dining in a vineyard restaurant sounds all very European, but at Carla Carlisle's Leaping Hare Cafe, Wyken Hall, near Bury St Edmunds (01359-250287), you can do just that. Set in a large barn, tables outdoors overlook a field where Jacob sheep graze; there is room for children to race around, and a waterbowl for dry dogs. Inside, fresh and lightly sophisticated food, cooked by a young Englishman, Dean Simpole- Clark, is served with verve, be it a fresh beetroot soup, chicken cooked over vine leaves or duck burgers with red pepper mayonnaise. Salad leaves come from the kitchen garden. The key lime pie recipe comes from Nora Ephron. Wyken's Bacchus 1992 has been winning all the top awards; better to my taste is the Alsatian-style Auxerrois, which tastes disarmingly French. A gift-shop to the side is a shade twee, but stocks the wines. Meals from pounds 10 to pounds 30. Open Thur, Fri and Sun 10am-6pm (lunch 12noon-2pm), and dinner Fri from 7pm. Visa, Access. Booking advisable


The Royal Native Oyster Stores, The Horsebridge, Whitstable (01227-276856) strip away the south-coast frou-frou in favour of Gallic charm. A beachfront warehouse, it has been converted with knockabout grace, so gingham cloths flutter on warped wooden refectory tables and one of the waitresses might park her bicycle in the dining room. English families in rugby shirts and Marks & Spencer jumpers suddenly look gloriously French as they tuck into oysters, steaming plates of mussels and simply fried fish, and toss back cheap chablis on a Sunday afternoon. Service is chaotic. Open Tues to Sun lunch and dinner. About pounds 15. Major credit cards


Some ideas are just nutty enough to work. Salts Mill, Victoria Road, Salt Aire (01274-531163) is one of them. Here a local entrepreneur named Jonathan Silver has set up a Hockney museum-cum-gift-shop, a clothes shop with racks of sharp suits and a vast cafeteria with chic fittings serving deli staples such as corned beef on rye and root beer. Salt Aire was built as an rural antidote to the dark, satanic mills. The grounds are still perfect for putting fresh air into city lungs. Open 9am-6pm daily. Light meals about pounds 5-pounds 8. Cash and cheques only