Nairn's 13 Woodside Crescent, Glasgow (0141 353 0707). Glasgow is wild about celeb chef Nick Nairn's townhouse hotel and restaurant in the elegant West End. There's nothing tame about his cooking - cauliflower and grain-mustard soup and John Dory with candied yams and puy lentils, for example - though his restaurant is wonderfully civilised. Lunch pounds 13.50 to pounds 17, dinner pounds 25 (all prices for meal without drink).
Wiz 123A Clarendon Road. London W11 (0171-229 1500). TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson's gastronomic Big Idea is a pan-global interpretation of Chinese dim sum: communal round-the- world dining for the caring, sharing Nineties. Start with home-baked breads, olives and dips, pass through Portugal for salt-cod fritters, over to North Africa for chermoula-spiced scallops, on to Italy for pumpkin ravioli with sage butter, and back to Blighty for bubble and squeak with a poached egg on top. pounds 15 or less.
Flights of fancy
Birdcage 110 Whitfield Street, London W1 (0171-383 3346). Chef Michael von Hruschka left behind the minimalism of London's Hempel hotel to create a habitat of total profusion, with one foot in Marrakesh, the other in Bangkok. His cooking is a miscellany of East and West, born of passion not fashion, and carried out with precision. Dishes as diverse as Cajun fish patties with vodka creme fraiche and Asian beansprout salad, Thai curry, and tiramisu come from a menu pasted inside a second-hand book. Flighty but fabulous. Lunch pounds 18.95 to pounds 24, dinner pounds 19.50 to pounds 25.
Hart's Standard Court, Park Row, Nottingham (0115 911 0666). Nottingham's newcomer hardly misses a beat. Although there are no local delicacies, the cut-to-the-chase menu has enough variation on the obvious to add interest: ham terrine, pork chop with baked apple, plus cauliflower and almond mash, red mullet with saffron, chocolate fondant pudding. Some staff are French, everything is polished, and the boldly coloured restaurant is strikingly good-looking. Lunch pounds 9.50 to pounds 20, dinner pounds 30 to pounds 35.
Club Gascon 57 West Smithfield, London EC1 (0171-796 0600). As dashing as d'Artagnan, this Smithfield joint specialises in food from south-west France. Brilliantly breaking the bistro mould, it allows grazing from a selection of smallish dishes: duck foie gras with grapes, cheese from the Pyrenees, duck confit, wild mushroom tart. Vegetables are thin on the ground and service is patchy, but it's an enticing and original place to eat. Enchanting looking, too, with marble walls, gauze-covered windows and silver ceiling. Price, pounds 30 to pounds 40.
Pharmacy 150 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 (0171-221 2442). The first theme restaurant for the Sensation generation. Downstairs, a fashionable cafe-bar offers toast-based snacks; upstairs, a grown-up restaurant serves serious food, all in a dramatic environment designed by Damien Hirst. There's nothing particularly original about the cooking, but the usual things are done quite well. Lunch pounds 15.50 to pounds 25, dinner pounds 40.
A munch in the country
The Goose Britwell Salome, near Watlington, Oxfordshire (01491 612304). Prince Charles's former chef has put down roots at the foot of the Chilterns in his own unassuming pub and dining room. His former employer's exacting standards are evident - the Goose's ingredients are scrupulously sourced, and a short, trenchantly worded menu makes maximum use of them, with wild mushroom soup, braised hare with herb stuffing, turbot, lamb. Pub dining that warrants a visit. Lunch pounds 15, dinner pounds 20 to pounds 25.
Rasa 6 Dering Street, London W1 (0171-629 1346). Indian food at its least blokish, being entirely vegetarian yet intricate and varied. Starchy starters in all sorts of shapes are followed by dosas that are just what the doctor ordered. Also on offer are a stunning range of vegetable curries: radiant mango in a smooth, creamy yellow sauce, dry cabbage with coconut, spinach and yoghurt, aubergine and onion. Sweet-and-sour flavours, sweet service. pounds 10 to pounds 22.50.
Mayfair but not mercenary
Mirabelle 67 Curzon Street, London WI (0171-499 4636). Marco Pierre White's most seductive restaurant yet is resplendently refurbished, like a 1920s liner. The cooking is timeless, too. Oysters in aspic is an unforgettable confection, earth-moving, even. Roast chicken and seabass with citrus fruits were stellar main courses. Dare we say the puddings are, perhaps, marginally less good. An outstanding bargain for such glamour: lunch pounds 14.95 to pounds 35, dinner pounds 40.
J Sheekey 28-32 St Martin's Court, London WC2 (0171-240 2565). A brilliant restoration of an old-stager by the restaurateurs responsible for the Ivy and Le Caprice puts it in a higher league. Stars have come out in force to produce a spangled environment for comforting, competent fish cooking. Trifle and treacle tart for afters may render the diner sluggish, but service is conducted at a dizzying pace. Weekend lunch pounds 15.50, pounds 25 otherwise.
Hotel and Restaurant Tresanton, St Mawes, Cornwall (01326 270055). Lord Forte's daughter, Olga Polizzi, is responsible for one of the loveliest hotels in Britain, an outbreak of good taste in Cornwall. Head chef Richard Turner had already helped set up Pharmacy earlier in the year, before he resurfaced here with a short, fishy menu. Parfait of foie gras in Madeira jelly, silky smooth and perfect, gazpacho, roast suckling pig with roast apples and potatoes, roast bass with light lobster sauce, excellent creme brulee. Lunch pounds 15 to pounds 20, dinner pounds 25 for guests, pounds 30 for others.
RK Stanleys 6 Little Portland Street, London W1 (0171-462 0099). What's magnificent and munificent about Stanleys is the seven sausages of varying complexity and ambition, served with toothsome trimmings, in which this restaurant specialises. Starters and puddings are not insubstantial either - witness smoked haddock on mustard greens with a poached egg on top. The look is Festival of Britain- meets-Fifties diner, the price cements its appeal: pounds 10 to pounds 15 without the beers which it also scores forReuse content