Generally, beer in Moscow is either crap or very expensive crap pretending to be German at £3 a glass. 317 serves a good pint called Rubinovoe (Ruby) at 70 roubles a go.
The place is relaxing, none of the modern Russian pomp and forced chic. TV with endless reels of fashion walks is, alas, on all the time (muted), but concentrate on beer and you'll be fine.
Find the White House, the seat of government. Turn your back to the river. The very next street to the left of the government compound is the one you need. Nearest metro: Smolenskaya or Krasnopresnenskaya metro
The cafe attached to the Contemporary Art Centre is effortlessly cool. Its dimly-lit interior suits winter well, in summer it sprawls outside. The soup of the day is usually pretty good and I hear good things about the pancakes too.
Bilingual staff, a non-pretentious art crowd and great music make give it a really good atmosphere. It also hosts talks for the CAC and often has DJs in the evenings.
Vokieciu 2, Vilnius; it's on the corner opposite the town hall
As nice as the tourist traps of the Grand Place are, you could do a lot worse than try this excellent family run bar/restaurant in the popular but sedate St Catherine area.
This a place where locals eat and drink, reflected in the menu and the prices. There are the usual steaks and moules frites, but you can try other typical Brusselois fare such as Anguilles au Vert (eels in green sauce and nicer than it sounds), Stoemp and even horse!
This is a very friendly, real place and well worth a try even if only for a drink before eating at the excellent St Catherine restaurants. Only a brief stroll from Bourse.
Rue St Catherine; The nearest metros are St Catherine or Bourse
Le Meridien is a fabulous five-star hotel a very short stroll (downhill) from the Grand Place. With very attentive (but not overbearing staff) and a fabulous (although you may want to 'treat' yourself one night as it can be a tad pricey) restaurant, you will leave feeling relaxed and spoilt.
If you call the hotel direct and not via the call centre you will get some fabulous deals.
Although a business/diplomat hotel at heart, our three children, aged four, eight and 12, are always welcomed.
Le Meridien Brussels, Carrefour de l'Europe 3, Brussels; brussels.lemeridien.com
Wow. For the definitive view of London, reserve a place at Vertigo 42, the champagne bar at the top of Tower 42. The bar is located on the 42nd floor and gives great views over the city.
Remember to book upfront, the bar does not accept walk-ins. Also remember to dress smartly, there’s lots of city folk in suits. Over 18s only.
Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HQ; Nearest tube: Bank; www.vertigo42.co.uk
Breathtakingly gorgeous art nouveau cafe/bar just five or so minutes from the Grand Place. Hearty nosh: moules and frites (of course), tasty Zeebrugge shrimp omelette, rugged carbonnades flamandes stew. There’s also loads of choccy puddings, plus Leffe and plenty of other beers on draught.
The English language menu on their website is worth a look for shameless, cheap-laugh lovers (like your correspondent). How about Salade Landaise “with gizzards and poultry lievers parfumed with orange room”. Or the somewhat Julian Clary-sounding “Warm Entries”.
Henri Mausstraat/Rue Henri Maus, 1000 Brussels;
Nearest Metro: Bourse; www.resto.be/falstaff
A very cosy and friendly traditional Belgian restaurant with excellent seafood and cracking wines, situated in the very heart of the city. The real draw though, has to be their shrimp croquettes, which must be a serious contender for best in Belgium. Highly recommended.
Rue des Bouchers 43, 02 511 7910, close to Brussels Central
It's right on the Grand Place and serves up the ultimate beer experience with a three-course menu cooked in three different beers and served with a glass of the same with each dish! It's pretty reasonably priced and has lots of other delicious dishes and is well-positioned to get a great view of any events that are held in the square. I had the pleasure of a son et lumiere show.
Go to Corte Sconta, the best fish restaurant in Venice. It’s tricky to find, but it's just off the Riva degli Schiavoni before you get to the Arsenale.
Also good is the Madonna restaurant. Order a fritto misto, a bottle of white wine and lap up the waiters, it's a laugh.
Corte Sconta: Castello 3886, Calle del Pestrin;
Madonna restaurant: San Polo 594
This welcoming cafe/restaurant is in the basement of St Andrews in the Square (a renovated 18th-century church, now functioning as a folk club and venue for events such as weddings and conferences). Cafe Source offers value for money - not particularly cheap, but fantastic quality and decent portion sizes (especially the delicious sandwiches).
It's also a good choice for families, as a selection of toys is usually available, and is ideally placed for lunch or dinner following a visit to the People's Palace on Glasgow Green.
The monthly jazz supper club is well worth a visit, but book in advance - it's very popular.
St Andrews Square, just off the Saltmarket, G1
A great place to see the cool and relaxed side of the busy city. It’s best at weekends, if you have never seen a mum pushing her child in a buggy while rollerblading, this is the place to go. Street markets and entertainers abound and the whole atmosphere is friendly.
Head north-west up the coast and you can't miss it.
Perlan is a revolving restaurant, sitting above the city with views over the harbours and beyond. It is a short taxi ride from the city centre.
Although revolving restaurants are perhaps a bit naff, the views really are sublime (especially at sunset) and the food was great.
It was on the expensive side - £150 for two people – but everything is in Iceland.
One word: mussels
Don't waste your money, time and patience in the city centre on the garish Rue des Bouchers or in St Catherine, instead head for Avenue Louise halfway between Place Stephanie and Rue de Bailli.
Chou de Bruxelles has a menu featuring more than 30 different types of mussels as well as other Belgian fare (stoemp, waterzooi etc). They're the best mussels in Brussels! The service is good and the atmosphere is always very nice.
Midway down Avenue Louise you'll find Rue de Florence; 26, rue de Florence, 1050 Bruxelles; Tel: 02 537 69 95
Food Street is a road closed to traffic each evening and instead filled with tables and chairs for the dozens of cafes offering their wares.
In particular, towards the end of the street, try Haji Sardar Fish Shop for some succulent fried, battered fish. So good, and so cheap!
Food Street - also known as Gowal Mandi - in the city centre
Truly delicious. A dollar or so will get you a big bag plus a pomelo (grapefruit-like fruit) for the full experience. Crunchy and tasty, a bit like crispy bacon. Try them, you'll be glad you did.
Street corners near the river, especially around the post office
For excellent food at the airport, follow the example of the airline staff. If you make your way out towards the train station on the other side of the main road, you should see some street stalls tucked in by the road. Here you can find excellent food and drink at a fraction of airport prices.
And if you ever have a day to kill before an evening flight why not take a short day trip to Ayuthaya from Don Muang by train.
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