Voices

Cooking in particular has got ever more competitive

Shirt tale ... classic Cook ... and no republicans

CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT

Knuckle sandwiches?

BUNHILL

Gracious living with gracious queens - or Golden Girls Go to Hell

Bette on the VCR. Now Voyager: the verandah, the moonlight, Max Steiner's music. Paul Henreid does the two-cigarette thing, and Bette starts to cry (smoke gets in your pop eyes). In a voice too touched and too tender to have ever issued from any man's mouth in real life, Paul asks why she's weeping. Bette turns away (killer close-up) and says, "Only an old maid's tears of gratitude for the crumbs offered." I begin sobbing into my bowl of air-popped popcorn, the way you do. Will pauses in passing around the 5lb box of Belgian chocolates to mutter, "She's off", and hands Andrew the triple-layer tissues we prepared earlier. Andrew follows Will's example and nabs a sheet for himself before giving them to me, along with a hug. As Paul politely advises Bette not to be such a silly bitch, we three honk into our hankies, devastated by a dead movie star's quest for true love.

Leeds disunited

restaurant: A promising new team needs a little extra coaching

Taste of '95

This was a big year for restaurants, and, appropriately enough, 1995 will go down as the year size mattered. Gary Rhodes and company opened People's Palace with 200 seats. Sir Terence Conran and company opened Mezzo (750); Marco Pierre White revamped the Criterion (162); Belgo branched out in Covent Garden with Centraal (375); there is a brand new Wagamama in Soho (176) and, last but not least, came L'Odeon in Regent Street (220). Well, how very numerical. Though I enjoyed some of these restaurants, f...

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

EATING OUT : Kitchen tiger turns pussycat

THE CRITERION BRASSERIE; 220 Piccadilly Circus, London W1V 9LB. Tel: 0171 930 0488. Open Mon-Sat, 12-2.30 and 5.30-12; Sun 12-3.30 and 6-10. Two courses with coffee, pounds 14; average a la carte price, pounds 35. All credit cards except Diners accepted

digest

LANCASHIRE

Stranded on a cool coast

COAST; 26b Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London W1A 4SW. Tel: 0171 495 5999 Open Mon to Sat: lunch 12-3, dinner 6-12. Average price for three courses pounds 35- pounds 40 All credit cards except Diners

FOOD & DRINK; BRILLIANT WHITE DISHES

MARCO PIERRE WHITE'S CANTEEN CUISINE: PART ONE; The one chef everyone has heard of is Marco Pierre White - and not only for his food. But his cooking is superlative, says Michael Bateman, introducing our three-part series of recipes from his new book

FOOD & DRINK GUESS WHO'S CO

At the Savoy tomorrow, 63 Michelin chefs will gather to welcome newcomers to their galaxy of gastronomy. Who on earth will cook for them? Chef Anton Edelmann (no stars) tells Michael Bateman what's on the menu

Emily Green suggests Four restaurants with silly names but serious cooking

Naming a restaurant might seem easy. It isn't. Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Alastair Little didn't name their places. Their parents did. Here we celebrate four good restaurants with distinctly silly names

You're a hypocrite, and you know it

Mud is being slung, and it's sticking to priests and politicians. But, says Genevieve Fox, you're not so squeaky clean yourself

The sorcerer's apprentice

Marco Pierre White has worked his magic again, pairing a once ailing restaurant with a talented young chef. Emily Green reports

Rhubarb

A worker picking rhubarb in Lofthouse, West Yorkshire, where booming demand for the often ridiculed plant has left growers struggling to meet demand. The delicacy's newly fashionable status has been enhanced by the chef Marco Pierre White, who ser ves itcaramelised in thin puff pastry at his London restaurant. David West wood, one of 19 growers in the "rhubarb triangle" between Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield, expects to harvest 200 tons in March. Candlelight provides the ideal level of heat and li ght for rhubarb.
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