Institutional eats

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, London

A first and lasting impression

THE HOLE IN THE WALL; 16 George Street, Bath BA21 2EH. Tel: 01225 425242. Open for Sunday lunch, noon-2pm and Mon-Sat for dinner, 6-10.30pm. Sunday lunch menu, pounds 14.50. Average price for dinner, pounds 20 per head. Major credit cards except Diners accepted

Two by two in Charlotte St

PIED A TERRE; 34 Charlotte Street, London W1P 1HJ. Tel: 0171 636 1178. Mon-Fri 12.15- 2.15pm and Mon-Sat 7.15-10.45pm. Three-course set lunch pounds 22. Set dinner, three courses pounds 29.50, seven courses pounds 46. Credit cards accepted

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Restaurant Digest

CORNWALL

Solitary joys and crosswords

THE BURNT CHAIR 5 Duke Street, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1HP. Tel: 0181-940 9488. Open for dinner Mon-Sat, 6-11, and for lunch by arrangement. Two-course set menu, pounds 12.50; average a la carte, pounds 18 for three courses. Access and Visa accepted

RESTAURANTS : The love shack

Marco Pierre White's voluptuous new venue : The Criterion Brasserie Marco Pierre White, 224 Piccadilly, London W1 (0171-930 0488). Open lunch, 12noon-2.30pm, and dinner, 5.30-12midnight daily. Vegetarian meals. Two- course lunch pounds 13.95. Major credit and de This new Criterion is dreamily romantic, in modern parlance, a great date restaurant COUNTY DURHAM There is a rather handsome dining room to the Rose and Crown, Romaldkirk (01833 -650213). However, all I can report of its food is that, ten years ago, it served a wedding lunch involving 30 plates of salmon with hollandaise very efficiently. Rather, it is the tiny bar to which I return year after year. This is where the locals drink Theakston s by the fire, or stop for some good grub, say a perfect mutton stew. The rooms above are handsome, and it is worth stopping over. It's official: this part of the land is of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Food ava ilable daily 12noon-1.30pm, 7-9.30pm. Bar meals about pounds 10. Access, Visa DUBLIN Quite why an Irish brasserie would be named after an Italian newspaper is anyone's guess, but such is the case with La Stampa, 35 Dawson Street (00-3531 6778611). This showboat of a restaurant is set in a fine old room - it looks like a former guildhall. Staff dash around in corporate-issue waistcoats and name-tags. But there is real glamour, somehow, not least because of the cocky charm of the greeter, Declan Maxwell. The chef is Paul Flynn, an Irishman who did enough years with Nico Ladenis to have a chestful of medals. His fish i s cooked to perfection, meat melting, sauces just right. The present menu lists ramen of pork, spring o nion and ginger; and croustade of Gorgonzola with beetroot, chives and walnut v inaigrette. Open lunch Mon-Fri, 12.30-2.30pm, dinner nightly, 6.30-11.15pm. Abo ut pounds 30all in. Vegetarian meals. Visa, Access, Amex, Dinners LONDON The hummus was runny and lumpy and under-spiced last week at Costa's Grill, 14 Hillgate Street, W8 (0171-229 3794). This is unusual. It's usually perfect. I should know: I have been eating at this low-key Fifties' Cypriot restaurant f or 15 years and always have the same thing: hummus, grilled baby chicken, Greek salad, a beer and a medium sweet Greek coffee. Best is the chicken, which is served sp layed and seared with a wedge of lemon. It is always perfect. The rest is prett y basic, but served with exceptional friendliness. There are baked dishes, but it is called Costa's Grill for a reason. About pounds 10- 15 per person. Open Mon-Sat lunch and dinner, 12noon-2.30pm, 5-10.30pm, and thr oughout Sat afternoon. Cash and cheques only NOTTINGHAMSHIRE If there is one man who will agree with the critics who say Colin White is a great cook, it is Colin White. Only this sort of self- confidence could make him so stubborn: he cooks to his own tune, and his decept ively simple food was not necessarily the right thing for the fancy hotel where he briefly turne d up several years ago. His new perch, Gannets Bistrot, 35 Castlegate, Newark ( 01636-610018), is more like it: a simple first-floor place with a blackboard menu. Here one might find best-end of lamb with courgette gratin and garlic sauce followed by steamed orange pudding with orange and cardamom ic e-cream. Need I continue? About pounds 15-20. No smoking. Open lunch, 12noon-2p m, and dinner, 6.30-9.30pm, Tues-Sat. Access, Visa, Delta, Switch

Low farce and high camp

CALIGULA: 21-22 Westmorland Place, Bromley BR1 1DS. Tel: 0181- 466 0738. Open daily from midday to 11pm. Three-course set menu, pounds 14.50. All major credit cards accepted

restaurants: Three's a crowd

Dining in the smallest restaurant in Great Gonerby; Harry's Place is not the egg 'n' chips caff it may sound, but a well-rehearsed and choreographed operation

Where shall we meet?: The Warren, W1

The Warren is a basement wine bar, attached to the Grafton Hotel, which has a sort of benign characterlessness that you rarely find in London these days, though anyone who has tried to fill a few hours on a business trip will be familiar with the sort of thing. There's nothing objectionable here: turquoise wallpaper in a tasteful small stripe, polite barmen, reasonable privacy in booths, non-poisonous food at acceptable prices (pounds 4.85 for a main course) and a reasonable wine list at pounds 7.75-pounds 14.95. It's useful because it's a civilised place in an area that's quite short on them, but the most memorable thing about it is the ladies' loo, which is done up like a tart's breakfast with air freshener, muzak and hanging Kleenex boxes.

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FOOD & DRINK: Elbows on the table OK

It's fine to pass on the pudding, but don't forget to pass the port Michael Bateman takes advice from an expert on etiquette

EATING OUT / Grievous bodily charm: Aubergine

Aubergine
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