Dining for deals: The Howard

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Environment

The Howard is only a short step from the River Thames. The bar is housed in a large, sumptuous room looking out on to a walled garden. The decor continues into the restaurant, complete with painted ceiling. Table spacings are generous, assuring confidentiality.

Clientele

The Howard has a loyal following. These include David Montgomery, former chief executive of the Mirror Group, and Jeff Randall, editor of Sunday Business. Andrew Neil also eats there. As does Gordon Brown.

Food

The menu is written in French but delivers essentially comforting British food. Dressed Cornish crab comes in a generous serving garnished with anchovies, tomatoes and egg. Fried calves' liver and smoked back bacon is a favourite among the regulars. Turkey, rib of Scottish beef, and English saddle of lamb appeal to the traditionalists, along with Dover Sole, North Sea turbot and Scottish salmon.

Drink

Wines are reasonably priced, and my choice of affordable ones include 1996 Louis Latour Montagny, costing pounds 28.50, and 1994 Louis Jadot Rully Rouge, at pounds 32. For celebrating a deal, the Bordeaux wines of Talbot, Haut- Brion and Mouton-Rothschild go up to pounds 320.

Staff

Erich Hokke, who left the Savoy to open the Howard in 1974, retired in May. His successor is Joaquin Correia, and the head chef is Gerhard Reisepatt.

Barrie Pearson is executive chairman of Livingstone Guarantee, the UK's oldest independent corporate finance house.

FACT FILE

12 Temple Place, London WC2. Tel: 0171-836 3555.

Open: Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Seats: 90.

Book ahead: two or three days; a week for peak times.

Cost: pounds 66 pp for a three-course a la carte and half-bottle of mid-priced wine.

Ratings (out of 10)

Business ambience 9

Food 7

Service 9

Wine list 8

Value 7

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