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
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
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

    Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

    £39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

    Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game