World class

RESTAURANTS A travel agent rather than a waiter may be needed to guide you round today's menus; Call it a big white trout with air miles, if you like but it's not every day I get to eat fish caught in Lake Malawi

The menus of some London restaurants now roam the world so far and wide that sometimes a travel agent would be more useful than a waiter. Offering several destinations in the space of an evening, they assume we know our Dordogne and Umbria backwards, that we've grown out of the back-packer diet that takes in falafel and Thai curries and have moved on to more specialised long-haul delicacies.

When it's done well, eating out at home broadens the mind more effectively than an adventurous holiday. For the drawback with those cruises down the Nile, weekend breaks in Havana and east African safaris is that the food is often terrible. You're more likely to find yourself eating what we used to think of as international cuisine - chicken Kiev and the like - in a tourist hotel than you are in the smarter suburbs of London.

One of these, Barnes, has for several years been blessed with Sonny's - an exceptionally good restaurant which has consistently kept up with modern cooking. So, having heard that the owners of Sonny's had opened a new venue in SW15, I was determined to try their Phoenix Bar & Grill.

Our destination was hard to miss - dazzlingly white with a few diners sitting under huge umbrellas on the front terrace. Inside, it's tremendously cool without seeming clinical. Chatter was amplified by the bareness of the four interlocking rooms, decorated sparingly with black and white prints and Arne Jacobsen chairs of the sort Christine Keeler sat astride naked.

The cooking isn't just well travelled in the Voyages Jules Verne class, it's well informed, beyond the scope even of most specialist regional recipe books. Duck quesadillas (tortillas filled and fried); contadina (apparently like pizza base), with feta, olives, basil and cherry tomatoes are just two items which might need translating by staff who also knew that red tilapia is a fresh water fish from land-locked Malawi.

Some dishes derive from the chef's imagination and sense of what combines well: leek vinaigrette, crisp bacon and marinated anchovies, for example, rather than from recognised recipes. Others can be attributed to a particular location.

To start, I was more or less Morocco-bound. Sardine chermoula saute - a North African marinade of garlic, cumin, paprika, saffron, coriander leaves and lemon providing the crisp fried fish with a tangy juice. My travelling companion took the silk route east for a main course of slices of duck breast and bunches of pak choi in a lustrous broth. Most intrepid of all was the safari to sub-Saharan Africa. What exactly is red tilapia? Something huge, clearly, for I got only a tail section, the skin blackened and the flesh neither fatty nor too bony. It was served with slices of fried lemon, and rocket which had been given a fiery chilli boost. Call it a big white trout with air miles, if you like but it's not every day I get to eat fish caught in Lake Malawi. We met up over a Turkish-inspired order of sweet young vegetables in a room-temperature lemon juice marinade.

Everything, so far, had been delicious - taking the ideas and ingredients from a well-planned itinerary and cooking them with zest and clarity. The puds, as they're called, sounded like juvenile holiday treats. We passed on frozen pina colada and cold rice pudding. Our heads were turned by a strawberry and blackberry sundae which didn't taste as fruity as it looked. But orange tart, with chocolate marbled on top, was a grown- up pleasure.

Why, we decided, bother with the rigours of travelling any further afield when you can trek to Putney and eat far better for little more than the cost of a cab to Heathrow?

The Phoenix Bar & Grill, 162 Lower Richmond Rd/Pentlow St, London SW15 1LY (0181-780 3131) Open Sun-Fri, lunch, daily dinner. Three courses with wine, pounds 25-pounds 30. Sun brunch three courses and coffee pounds 16. Access, Amex, Switch, Visa

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Sustainability Manager

    Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

    Graduate Sustainability Professional

    Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

    Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

    £850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

    Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

    £100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn