Bam-Bou, 1 Percy Street, London, W1P 0ET (0171-323 9130)


French windows open on to Charlotte Street, in fashionable Fitzrovia, and a row of period houses that are home to advertising and design businesses.


With black-and-white photographs, dark lacquered furniture, delicately flickering candles and stylishly crackled walls, designer Andrew Norrey has cleverly transformed this very English property into a steamy colonial den.

Clientele and service

The friendly staff are young and stylish, the people they serve sadly less so. At the next table, a middle-aged man kept up a determined effort to lift his eyes from his date's decadent cleavage - before whisking her off to the bar for a snog. The twentysomething romeo who took his seat followed suit, dribbling "you're far too intelligent to be a secretary" into his unlucky lady's ear. Elsewhere in the restaurant, thespian and media types managed to mingle with somewhat more refinement.

Romance factor

Sweep your partner off to a corner of the bar (a choice of invitingly lavish upstairs rooms) to admire the French/ Vietnamese-style decor, take in a tropical soundtrack and sip something cool. Well, it worked for the couple sitting next to us.

Oh yeah and the food

A toned-down taste of Vietnam for unexpectedly good value. Starters, such as soft spring roll with chicken, rice noodles, mint and coriander, cost from pounds 5.50 to pounds 6.95, and mains, such as grilled prawns with lime and rice vinegar, cost from pounds 9.95 to pounds 12.95.