Ann Dix fails to find a champagne drip at Damien Hirst's restaurant

A white-coated receptionist directs me to a rather clinical waiting area with plastic chairs and tables.

The walls are lined floor to ceiling with glass and steel cabinets, stocked with a daunting array of medicines:

high-fibre drinks line up with Beecham powders, Prozac and drugs for AIDS.

I take a seat, and find myself gazing in morbid fascination at a pile of suppository boxes, with rather unpleasant graphics on the side. Staff in white theatre gowns glide silently to and fro under the neon lighting.

This is my first visit to Damien Hirst's Pharmacy restaurant in Notting Hill, London, and I am slightly squeamish. The prospect of shark marinated in formalin, pickled sheep, wind-dried cow or flies in aspic - either on the menu or as a gastronomic backdrop - worries me.

But more alarming is the fear that the medical theme might stimulate Mr Hirst's macabre imagination to new excesses.

Sitting in the downstairs bar waiting for my companion, I search for clues to the horrors that might be lurking in the restaurant above. There are dinky little stools with tops like aspirins, chemical molecule motifs on the chair backs and a neon pharmacy sign. Nothing too alarming there.

A large, surreal blow-up of floating aspirins is soothing and rather attractive. The New Age music wafting across the room makes me feel as if I am starting to drop off under the anaesthetic, but it is quite pleasant.

Jostling for attention on the cocktail menu, Silk Stockings and Bazooka Joe vie with more dubious sounding concoctions. . . Anaesthetic Compound, Chemical Reactions and Cough Syrup.

But they appear to contain nothing more noxious than vodka.

Visiting the Ladies', I am charmed by colourful bathroom lights shaped like torpedo pills - although two seem to have lost their casing, revealing wires and black sticky tape. Has someone stolen them; is it an ironic comment on the state of hospital maintenance; or is it simply Art?

Back at the bar, I am joined by healthcare architect Sunand Presad, who is admiring a colour picture chart of the periodic table. It is a Chemistry Society original, not a Damien Hirst, but we both decide we would like one.

Upstairs, the medical theme is somewhat more restrained. A giant chemical compound model sits in front of the plate-glass window, and the walls are adorned with several coloured canvases, studded with jewel-like butterflies - Damien Hirst originals.

By now we feel rather let down. Mr Presad was expecting something 'more visceral' and would like to have seen 'a large sliced cow' - a surprising predilection for a vegetarian and architect renowned for his sensitive health building designs. I would have been content with a few operating theatre lights and a champagne drip.

But we are impressed by the silver walls, adorned with thousands of miniature images of drugs, complete with generic and brand names. We discover that the butterflies are fixed to the canvas by paint, as if they've flown into a trap - a thrilling and sinister undertone.

The menu is as gimmick-free as Modern European gets. My companion opts for a 'slightly worthy' Provencale goat's cheese salad, and char-grilled vegetables.

I get off to a fine start with asparagus, poached egg and truffle oil, followed by grilled sea bass.

My companion follows up with pain perdu (fried bread) topped with baked pineapple, peach and banana, which he pronounces a success; I have lemon tart, its gooey consistency complemented by a blob of orange sorbet.

With two glasses of wine and coffee the bill comes to£75.

On the way out, Mr Presad checks the gents' toilets, and when he has given me the 'all clear', I sneak in to view the urinal - a perspex panel filled with swabs, plasters and syringes.

We agree we would definitely go back. Food - good; decor - fun; atmosphere - relaxed; shock value - nil. But is it Art? In that it hadn't challenged our perception of the world, we decide that it probably wasn't.

Pharmacy, 150 Notting Hill Gate, W11 (0171-221 2442)