11 The Quay
Ilfracombe , Devon
Tel: 44 1271 868 090
One reason we know North Devon is the place to be is that art-world superstar Damien Hirst opened a restaurant here in 2004. A handsome Victorian harborside house is split into various sections: Downstairs is a relaxed bar-café called the White Hart after the inn this used to be; then there's a classic oak-floor, white-tablecloth upstairs dining room (air-conditioned!) called the Harbourside Room; and next to that, the Atlantic Room—a sculptural space that looks like an upturned boat hull decorated with Hirst works. The food is serious and contemporary stuff: a whole roast trout or guinea fowl, or perhaps haddock Wellington. And, this being England, trifle for dessert.
30 North Street
Ashburton , Devon
Tel: 44 1364 654 478
Chef Nick Coiley is living his countryside culinary dream so that you can live yours. When he opened this place in 2000, he immediately set about befriending local suppliers of epicurean delights, planting crazy crops in his gardens (elephant garlic, white alpine strawberries) and curing, pickling, smoking, and baking (twice every day). You cannot find fresher food than this—Coiley even takes his kids out mushroom picking and foraging for prawns. After home-cured bresaola with marinated Jerusalem artichokes, delve into Devon lamb steak with asparagus tart and rosemary gravy, and enjoy cheese from the Ticklemore Cheese Shop in Totnes (1 Ticklemore St.; 44-1803-865-926). Pick up some home-brewed elderflower vinegar or spicy apricot chutney from the little store to take home.
Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and most Sundays.
15 Halkin Arcade, Motcomb Street
Tel: 44 207 823 1166
Innovative, high-end Indian restaurants abound in London, but not all cook food worth trying. Amaya, however, does, serving contemporary versions of Indian street food and smarter dishes in chic surroundings. From the owners of Chutney Mary (535 Kings Rd., Chelsea, SW10; 44-207-351-3113; www.chutneymary.com) and Veeraswamy; (Victory House, Mezzanine, 99 Regent St., Piccadilly, W1; 44-207-734-1401; www.veeraswamy.com), Amaya is already a glamorous fixture, with a candlelit bar, rosewood furniture, and a rear dining room with an atrium roof. The customers are glamorous, too: The roll call is headed by Gwyneth Paltrow, Hugh Grant, Madonna, and Mick Jagger. Through a gap in one wall, you can also spot the brigade toiling at the sigri charcoal grill, tandoori ovens, and various skillets. Dishes to go for are king scallops served in the shell with an herb sauce, spiced grilled aubergine, anything tandoori, and crisp, light naan.
36 The Cut
Tube: Waterloo or Southwark
Tel: 44 207 928 9898
Don't walk, run to this throbbing, no-reservations gastropub by the Old Vic theater on the South Bank. Late arrivals—e.g., later than 9:30 p.m.—have found that most of the food has been wolfed down, except for, say, spaghetti with dandelion or deep-fried pig's head. This fine example of an updated pub serves untampered-with, back-to-basics food from a team that cut its teeth at St. John restaurant. Expect uncompromising dishes like duck hearts on toast and "rabbit, bacon, and mustard" (chunks of bacon with rabbit leg and mustard sauce) on the short and continually evolving menu. The list offers a dozen reasonably priced wines by the glass.
4 Bathurst Street
England W2 2SD
Tel: 44 20 7402 0083
Although Lancaster Gate is an exclusive part of central London, just a stone's throw from Hyde Park, it has always been rather weak in the culinary department—until now. Owner Thierry Tomasin (formerly head sommelier at Le Gavroche) has created a gem in terms of ambience, service, and food at this classic French restaurant, housed in a 200-year-old former pub. The main dining room, which retains the original wood paneling, holds 15 tables laid with crisp white linens and tasteful floral arrangements, while the old bar has been extended to create an elegant lounge that's perfect for predinner cocktails. This place attracts a lot of French customers (a good sign). Expect simple French dishes perfectly executed rather than complicated flavors and sauces; of particular note is the braised lamb belly and the red mullet, both accompanied by mouth-watering crushed mint potatoes. At around $30 to $35, main courses won't break the bank, and as you'd expect from Tomasin, the wine list is extensive but also reasonably priced.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 11 am to 12 pm.
74 Blackfriars Road
Tel: 44 207 928 1111
Upon entering, nothing about Baltic's vodka bar, cozy with recessed seating, prepares you for the soaring white-walled dining room. It's latticed with beams, lit by a fiber-optic chandelier of Polish amber lamps, and crackles with energy. The Eastern European cuisine served here is hearty and often exceptional: blinis, Siberian pelmeni (little veal and pork dumplings), and unpronounceable szczawiowa (sorrel soup). Pretty Polish women dressed in black take orders efficiently and unobtrusively, even during the Sunday evening jazz gigs and among the customary loud crowds. This is the best place for post Tate Modern unwinding.
20 New Change Passage
England EC4M 9AG
Tel: 44 20 3005 8555
Pit master Adam Perry Lang has teamed up with Jamie Oliver to bring to England a range of barbecue techniquesfrom Japanese robata to Texas smokers. Admirer Harold Dieterle says of the duo, "Both are great chefs, and with Barbecoa, they are diving into a wide range of international grilling styles." Look for American imports like beer-can chicken and pulled pork shoulder, as well as riffs on British bar snacks, including fried pork scratchings served with mole dipping sauce (entrées, $25-$56).
Must eat: Charred hot wings.
Chef Oliver's favorite new restaurant: Tim Siadatan's Trullo, London
8 Southwark Street
Tube: London Bridge
England SE1 1TL
Tel: 44 207 7407 1002
A favorite of many a celebrity chef, the award-winning Borough Market is the ultimate foodie destination. Specialist traders come from throughout the United Kingdom and further afield to set up shop in buildings that date back to 1851 (the Art Deco entrance was added in 1932). You're invited to move from stall to stall and sample what's on offer, but for the best experience, visit on Thursdays, when the market's less crowded and you can chat with booth owners (the market is closed Sunday through Wednesday). Highlights include the traditional savory pies from Bristol bakery Pieminister, the luscious seafood curry at Furness Fish, the Ogleshield cheese sandwich at Bill Oglethorpe's cart (Gourmet's Ruth Reichl called it the "Platonic ideal" of cheese sandwiches—definitely no argument here after tasting one), sausages and meats from Sillfield Farm in Cumbria, and local artisanal cheeses at Neal's Yard Dairy. Sampling can quickly add up to a meal here, but if it merely whets your appetite, there are plenty of restaurants and bars in and around the market, including Roast, an upscale option housed in the former Floral Market (Stoney St.; 44-207-940-1300), and Fish!, a glass-and-steel pavilion that perfectly complements the surrounding market's wrought-iron work (Cathedral St.; 44-207-407-3803).
Open Thursdays 11 am to 5 pm, Fridays noon to 6 pm, and Saturdays 8 am to 5 pm.
England BA1 1LP
Tel: 44 1225 461 199
Although it's a venerable-ish (30-odd-years-old) English chain, Browns is no McDonalds or Starbucks. The brasserie-style restaurants usually occupy interesting, even historic buildings; this one's in a Georgian police station and magistrates' court opposite Bath Abbey, with a former cell serving as a bathroom. The food is hardly ambitious—salmon cakes with mango salsa; steak, mushroom and Guinness pie; brownies and ice cream—but it's reliably good and reasonably priced. In pleasant weather, head for the large terrace of outdoor tables.
22 Store Street
Tube: Goode Street
Tel: 44 207 299 7900
Alan Yau—savior of Chinese food in London thanks to his no-frills Wagamama (now sold), his all-thrills Hakkasan, and lately Yauatcha (15-17 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1; 44-207-494-8888) has opened his second Busaba. Like the original branch at 106 Wardour Street, this has a sleek Christian Liaigre look, casual atmosphere, and no-reservations policy. Arrive early to avoid lines and tuck into Thai fast food: salads, soups, curries, stir-fries, and noodles galore eaten off communal tables. By some miracle, Yau keeps prices low and quality high.
5a Burlington Gardens
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Tel: 44 207 434 1500
A makeover in 2005 while under new management, the Soho House Group, has upped the sex appeal of this long-time favorite of art dealers. One of the big improvements is the gleaming central bar, with its exceptional cocktails and Prosecco on tap. Dark wood and pea-green leather chairs, black-and-white tiled floors, and Art Deco lighting are pure 1920s Venice. The food is classic Italian—rustic Tuscan bean soup, veal Milanese, wild mushroom risotto. Also here is London's only cichetti bar, offering Italian tapas such as salt cod mantecato on crostini and Umbrian sausages with red pepper (served all day).
The Clerkenwell Workshops
27—31 Clerkenwell Close
England EC1R 0AT
Tel: 44 20 7101 9959
Airy and open-plan with smiling staff and an ever-changing seasonal menu, Clerkenwell Kitchen has a lot going for it. Chef-owners Emma Miles and Laura Hearn pride themselves on creating long-lasting relationships with local suppliers and sourcing fair-trade, free-range, and organic produce. Many items—jams, chutneys, pastries, puddings, and breads—are made on the premises. The decor is warm and clean, with an open kitchen, brushed concrete and wood floors, and exposed brick walls (in warmer weather, they also open a large courtyard terrace). Reasonably priced dishes such as fresh linguine with purple sprouting broccoli and Lodigiano cheese (similar to Parmesan) and tasty fish pie made with organic Glenarm salmon and smoked pollock are simple but well executed. A great lunchtime stopover if you're exploring Clerkenwell.—Giovanna Dunmall
Open Mondays through Wednesdays 8 am to 5 pm, Thursdays 8 am to 5 pm and 6:30 to 11 pm, and Fridays 8 am to 5 pm.
England NR23 1EX
Tel: 44 1328 710 209
In this whitewashed 16th-century coach inn fronting a pretty fishing port, chef Chris and wife Jo Coubrough serve up good English grub with Pacific Rim and Mediterranean influences. Dining at the ocher-walled restaurant is pretty swank: Flash-fried squid, bacon, and black puddingor a lamb-and-sweetbread terrinemight be followed by roasted breast of partridge with wild mushrooms on crushed potato, or steamed North Sea cod with ginger, lemongrass, and lime. In the adjoining black-beamed Crown Bar, things are much more casual: You can order great sandwiches or share a Crown Black Slatea platter of mixed Asian and Euro appetizers (smoked-chicken salad, seafood spring rolls, goat cheese and rosemary brûlée) served on a slab of slate. Weekend reservations are essential for the restaurant. And by the way, "hotel" is no misnomer: There are 12 beautiful rustic-minimal rooms upstairs.
Norwich City Football Ground
Tel: 44 1603 218 704
Imagine if Jacques Pépinno, if Rachael Ray owned the Baltimore Orioles and set up a restaurant at Camden Yards that was open only on game nights. That doesn't quite approach the absurd glory of this venture. Delia Smith is sort of like Julia Child crossed with Julie Andrews, a quasi-saintly culinary savior and TV personality who also happens to be a sports nut. She owns the Canaries, the Norwich City soccer team, and she put her reputation on the line by operating the Carrow Road catering. Here you can eat the intelligent, yummy EnglishContinental food that endeared Delia to at least three generations of gastronomic neophytes: coarse country pâté with cornichons and toasted granary bread; swordfish ceviche with cilantro and mint; confit of Norfolk duck with sour cherry compote; jerk pork with grilled pineapple salsa; spinach-and-pine-nut lasagna with three cheeses. And you can see a championship soccer match, too.
14 Blenheim Crescent
Notting Hill, W11
Tube: Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove
Tel: 44 207 229 5454
This very popular (and deservedly so) pan-Asian-via-Sydney restaurant and bar in Notting Hill pulls in local Trustafarians and media types, as well as hip gastro-tourists come to see what all the fuss is about. The bar in front is open all day for non-diners. The restaurant serves dim sum, sashimi rolls, maki rolls, tempura, curries, and the signature chilli-salt squid, soft-shell crab, and black cod in a sweet miso sauce. Must book.
On the Beach
Watergate Bay , Cornwall
Tel: 44 1637 861 000
Socially responsible celebrity chef Jamie Oliver chose Watergate Bay in Cornwall for his third restaurant. Like Oliver's other enterprises in London and Amsterdam, disadvantaged locals can train alongside established chefs here. The Cornish branch is a purpose-built, very cool beachfront restaurant: Graffiti-art embellishes the walls, the lights are styled like huge water droplets, the welcome desk is fashioned out of an ancient tree trunk (cut down for valid reasons, of course), and the chairs, although comfy, are designed to appear a little askew. The kitchen is open, so diners can observe the trainees' progress as they prepare Italian-style dishes using seasonal, often local ingredients. Some suppliers, such as Mrs. Kirkham (who raises Lancashire Grampound duck) even get a mention on the menu. Reserve ahead.
Tel: 44 1328 738 588
Burnham Market sometimes seems to be populated entirely by ex-Londoner antique dealers, and they all like to gather here. There are plenty of reasons why. When current owners Matthew and Caroline Owsley-Brown took over Fishes, half of Norfolk went into mourning that the previous owner was no longer in charge; as if that wasn't a hard enough beginning, the Owsley-Browns opened for business on September 11, 2001. Despite all this, the place has grown and thrived under their care. Their menus change not once but twice a day, according to what has arrived fresh on the local Brancaster, Lynn, Great Yarmouth, and Lowestoft boats. Smoked eel with foie gras and piquillo pepper terrine made even more decadent with homemade brioche, and roast Thai-buttered lobster with ginger, scallions, and sweet basil stir-fried noodles are just a couple of choices you might get to try. Desserts are amazing too, as is the daily-home-baked bread. Even the wine list is exemplary (if you have a few too many glasses, ask about one of the two luxury bedrooms overlooking the village green that are available for overnight stays). Reservations are essential. No children under five are permitted after 8:30 p.m.
Closed Mondays September through July.
6 Green Street
England BA1 2JY
Tel: 44 1225 448 707
Back in 1997, seafood obsessive Mitchell Tonks had the bright idea of combining a fishmonger with a café—and a fish-cooking school. Since the tenth branch opened in July 2006 (in London's Parsons Green district), FishWorks is officially a minor national phenomenon, with Tonks almost equaling Rick Stein as England's TV-chef fishmeister. Freshness and good value are the mantras here, with chef Ollie Navias bringing the pick of the catch from the store's fishermen-suppliers to table. You can select your own specimen from the fish counter, or try dishes like roasted skate with brown butter with capers, breaded fried haddock, or sea bream baked in salt (the selection varies with market availability). Taramasalata made from fresh smoked cod's roe is the house specialty. Unusually for England, the casual dining room is augmented by a covered, heated deck.
9 Denmark Street
England WC2H 8LS
Tel: 44 20 7240 3334
Giaconda Dining Room is a tiny, good-value restaurant in an unpromising but über-central location off Charing Cross Road. The food, by Australian chef Paul Merrony, is a simple selection of French- and Italian-influenced dishes that go by that rather catchall name of "modern European." Daily specials such as hake cooked with a caper and olive sauce will satisfy most tastes, while the more adventurous should opt for customer favorite crisped pig's trotters. Meat eaters will revel in the reasonably priced sautéed veal kidneys, poached ox tongue, and braised tripe served with a delectable mélange of chorizo, butter beans, and paprika. The on-the-ball and unflappable waitresses are a big plus here, as is the fair pricing on the food and the wine. But we suggest you avoid the two tables near the coat rack in this tightly packed place, or else resign yourself to spending the evening bending sideways to allow your fellow diners access.—Giovanna Dunmall
Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 3 pm and 6 to 10:30 pm.
Chagford , Devon
Tel: 44 1647 432 367 or 44 1647 432 225
After being closed for most of 2006 due to a room expansion, this country house hotel on 40 acres is again offering the grandest, most refined dining in Devon. The restaurant is all about chef Michael Caines, who is also co-owner of Abode Exeter. An alum of the kitchens of Raymond Blanc, Bernard Loiseau, and Joël Robuchon, he's consistently lauded as one of the greats. While keeping up with trends (nobody can lag in this country of food fiends), he cooks in the classical French tradition, with a twist of wit: langoustine cannelloni with braised fennel; roasted Dartmoor lamb accompanied by potato fondant, onion and thyme purée, and tomato fondue. Although unusual for a Michelin-two-star place with all the bells and whistles and complexity, he changes the menus every day. Lunch is a relative bargain, and about the only way to eat here without investing in a (very glorious, very expensive) room so you don't have to trek home—Chagford is a tiny village surrounded by the endless wilds of Dartmoor.
Claridge's Hotel, Brook Street
Tube: Bond Street
Tel: 44 207 499 0099
The lavish Art Deco interior by Thierry Despont may be formal, but the service is exceptionally friendly at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at Claridge's. Ramsay and head chef Mark Sargeant create rich, saucy modern European dishes: a starter of pressed foie gras marinated in Beaumes de Venise with pickled mushrooms, leek salad, and toasted brioche; a main course of Oxfordshire lamb with confit shoulder, spiced eggplant, green and white asparagus, and tarragon jus. There's no background music, just low-level "mmmm"s and the clink of silverware on fine china. Diners can order à la carte or try the six-course Prestige Menu; there's also a very reasonably priced set lunch at only £30 (about $60) per head. If you can stand the heat, you can watch Ramsay himself at work at the chef's table in the kitchen. That is, if he's not off cooking at one of his many other establishments, such as his eponymous, three-Michelin starred restaurant on Hospital Road…but good luck getting a table there (Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, 68 Royal Hospital Rd., SW3; 44-207-352-4441; www.gordonramsay.com/royalhospitalroad).
32 Great Queen Street
England WC2B 5AA
Tel: 44 20 7242 0622
Great Queen Street is the name of a restaurant located on Great Queen Street. From that fact, you know it's a place where stolid common sense wins out over cleverness and wit. The terse menu descriptions—asparagus; beetroot, goat's curd, and mint; beef rib for two; crab on toast—reinforce the sense that this is a place for Serious Cooking, not frivolity. But Great Queen Street, the younger sister of popular gastropub Anchor & Hope, is anything but pretentious: It's just a long room with a bar to one side; seating arranged in a grid; walls painted dark red; and floors, tables, and chairs fashioned from nondescript wood. But it's all energetic, friendly, and light. The beet salad is chunky and substantial, a sprinkling of bread crumbs underscoring its earthiness. The beef rib and its accompanying chips are exemplary (the chef, Tom Norrington-Davies, buys a whole side of Hereford beef each week and works his way through it). Braised dishes are a specialty—if you see oxtail, order it. The produce is all seasonal and fresh; the wine list brief, reasonable, and ever evolving (the wine is served in tumblers, naturally); the apron-wearing servers knowledgeable and welcoming. In short, Great Queen Street is a terrific choice for a moderately priced lunch or dinner in Covent Garden. And unlike at the Anchor & Hope, reservations are accepted.Peter J. Frank
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 12 to 2:30 pm and 6 to 10:30 pm, Sundays one 2 pm sitting, and Mondays 6 to 10:30 pm.
8 Hanway Place, W1
Tube: Tottenham Court Road
Tel: 44 207 927 7000
A backstreet off Tottenham Court Road is the unlikely location for Alan Yau's highly lacquered, low-lit Michelin-starred restaurant. The dining room is divided by antique latticed wood screens from Beijing, which are surrounded by glass wall panels subtly lit in deep blue and purple. The waitresses, dressed in flowing frocks by Hussein Chalayan, are more than a match for the interiors. Succulent platters of dim sum are favorites in both the restaurant and the laid-back Ling Ling bar. Also of note is the roasted silver cod with Champagne and Chinese honey and the Chilean sea bass with Chinese celery and lotus rootflavors that linger (in a good way) long after you emerge from the temple-style doors back into the slightly down-at-heel alleyway.
England CA11 0QU
Tel: 44 176 848 3007
Unprepossessing from the outside and rather near the highway, this 18th-century inn has a cozy interior and an impressive pub/restaurant. Dishes run from the refined (pork liver pâté, baked local salmon with chive and lemon white wine sauce) to the hearty and veddy British (lamb shoulder braised in Jennings Cumberland Ale, pan-fried steaks, roasted crispy half-duckling). When the inn changed ownership in June 2006, vegetarian selections were added to the menu, including a braised leek and creamed mushroom crumble and spiced vegetable curry with broccoli, cauliflour, carrots, and potatoes. To tipple, there's a good range of single malt Scotch whiskeys, Jennings real ales, and a fine selection of wines. Upstairs are five comfortable bedrooms under wood beams.
66–70 Brewer Street
England W1F 9UP
Tel: 44 207 2923518
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Top London chef Mark Hix (The Ivy and Le Caprice) serves up über-British dishes alongside cutting-edge art in his flagship restaurant in Soho. Above your head, a mobile by Damien Hirst featuring mini sharks in clear acrylic boxes and another by Sarah Lucas with Fray Bentos pie tins add a whimsical note to the brasserie-style decor. Expect dishes such as Falmouth prawns, Cornish brill, hanger steak (with baked bone marrow), oyster pies, and Blackface mutton; the provenance of everything, down to the shaved cheese on your dish, is provided on the menu. Lunchtimes, Soho's media and art crowd fill the place, but come evening, you'll be surrounded by theatergoers. And if you're looking for a cocktail and a snack, the basement bar, a glamorous, clubby den with deep leather sofas, is one of the hottest drinking spots in town.—Giovanna Dunmall
Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 11:30 pm, Sundays noon to 10:30 pm.
Tel: 44 1328 738 777
This gorgeous 16th-century inn is officially a gastropub, but it's an extremely elevated version. Here in the heat-lamp-warmed gardens or on the covered terrace, in the air-conditioned dining room or the wood-paneled bar, pick from a long menu of new-Brit food that wouldn't be out of place in the hippest Notting Hill brasserie. Duck and beetroot broth with juniper oil; braised pork cheeks with mead sauce and vegetable-and-borlotti-bean cassoulet; or spiced black bream with curried parsnip mash and lemon and cumin dressing—these are the kinds of dishes to emerge from what the restaurant claims is the world's largest Aga (solid-fuel stove; increasingly trendy stateside).
8 Porchester Gardens
England W2 4DB
Tel: 44 207 2211415
Tube: Bayswater, Queensway
Don't let this restaurant's name or its location on the top floor of an unassuming West London shopping center fool you. Le Café Anglais's menu is thoroughly French, and its buzzy dining room and oyster bar are glammed up with pale green leather and maple banquettes, tall lattice Art Deco windows, red drapes, and geometric lightbox chandeliers. The on-show rotisserie—where chicken, pork, and game sizzle seductively—is the first hint that U.K. chef Rowley Leigh has a thing for meat. Start with several tasty hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, such as the popular Parmesan custard with anchovy toast before tucking into the meaty offerings, such as duck with spring greens and orange or chicken with herbes de Provence.—Giovanna Dunmall
Open Mondays through Thursdays noon to 11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays noon to 11:30 pm, and Sundays noon to 10:15 pm.
While Scott's, The Ivy, and Le Caprice favor diners with perseverance or a famous name, J. Sheekey, the fourth in the best-known quartet of restaurants in Caprice Holdings' stable of eight, remains surprisingly accessible. From its theatrical David Collins decor and ostentatious crustacean platter stacked to the ceiling to its equally showy clientele, many of whom have just stepped offstage in nearby theaterland, J. Sheekey is a show-off. With some of the most delicious fish to be had in London, impeccable service, and an electric atmosphere, it's far more deserving of your reservation skills than its snootier siblings. Scott's, which has been hard to get into since it reopened in 2006, has an oak-paneled, understated decor in keeping with its classy Mayfair location. Its upscale menu includes fried cod's tongue, stargazy pie, and pan-fried slip sole, as well as posh fish-and-chips with mushy peas. Le Caprice, opened by Jeremy King and Christopher Corbin (the duo now in charge of the marvelous Wolseley and St. Albans), looks dated in its black-walled 1980's Eva Jiricna design, with tables too close together, yet it remains a glitterati favorite. Both Le Caprice and The Ivy have similar, multiculti comfort menus: seared tuna, fish cakes with sorrel sauce, roasted lamb, and the ever-popular Scandinavian iced berries for dessert. The rich and famous keep coming back, so they must be doing something righteven if it's only controlling the paparazzi.
127 Ledbury Road
Tube: Westbourne Park
Tel: 44 207 792 9090
Recipient of a Michelin star in 2006, the Ledbury brings unprecedented polish, panache, and amuse-bouches to Notting Hill, taking this postal code to new levels of gentrification. Ledbury's large windows, chandeliers, and linen-swathed tables, breathes understated wealth and good taste. The star of the show is Australian-born Brett Graham, former sous-chef at the Square, the Ledbury's sister restaurant in Mayfair. He wows diners with scallops roasted in licorice; lasagna of rabbit, and terrine of Iberian ham with Iberian pork cheeks and foie gras.
Unit 410 Chapelfield Plain
Tel: 44 1603 305 280
Named in honor of the candy factory that once stood here, neither this upstairs dining room nor downstairs café, located just outside the newer of Norwich's two shopping malls, is remotely canteenlike. Rather, they're cheery places for intelligently cooked, locally sourced food, such as dressed Cromer crab with celeriac rémoulade, or pesto-baked corn-fed chicken with goat cheese mash. (Burgers, by the way, are better next door at Tootsies.) At the end of the meal, everyone gets to dip into the huge dish of Quality Street chocolatesMackintosh's most-recognized candies. Children, of course, adore this.
152 Tooley Street
England SE1 2TU
Tel: 44 20 7403 1342
You'll find Magdalen in the rather ugly municipal office buildings that once housed the Mayor of London and his team before they were moved up the street to a sexy glass building designed by Sir Norman Foster. Inside, however, you'll find rich claret walls, crisp linen tablecloths, and twinkling chandeliers—the perfect backdrop to the traditional British dishes. Nearby Borough Market provides plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish for former Anchor & Hope chef James Faulk's seasonal menu. Typical winter dishes include partridge terrine, clams, and rump of beef from the countryside of Herefordshire (as you'd expect, the summer menu includes more fish dishes and lighter preparations). The English puddings are delicious—it would be foolish to leave without trying the custard tart. Prices are affordable (starters from $11 and entrées from $19), and unlike at Anchor & Hope, you can book.
Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 10:30 pm.
Exeter , Devon
England EX1 1HD
Tel: 44 1392 223 638
Even if you don't stay in Michael Caines's hometown showcase, the Abode Exeter Hotel, make an excuse to eat in his restaurant. For all the hype, Michael Caines at Abode Exeter is uncommonly accessible and affordable. For around $32, you can get a three-course lunch of locally sourced, modern English dishes, such as roast duckling with garlicky cabbage, and a charcuterie plate with crisp pickled vegetables. The adjoining Champagne Bar offers similarly tasty and reasonably priced light bites, including a traditional Devonshire cream tea for less than $8. If you're in the mood for an all-out meal, the restaurant accommodates with a seasonal dinner menu. Highlights include savory pea and Parmesan soup, a showstopping lamb roast with confit and tapenade sauce, and an extensive selection of Devon cheeses. Advance reservations for dinner are recommended, but the restaurant and bar pride themselves on speedy seatings for lunch and afternoon tea.
Old Priory Hotel
England BA3 2HX
Tel: 44 1761 416 784
After ten years earning accolades in the center of Bath, chef Stephen Shore moved his Goose to this medieval house in a nearby picture-book village. The house-made breads, local fish (delivered daily from Devon), and all-English seasonal produce are given modern treatment here. Selections might include a pie of roasted rabbit and wood pigeon; a salad of Cornish lobster, green beans, potato, and quail eggs with truffle oil; and Cornish lamb with a pine kernel crust and poached sweetbreads. The good news for those too sated to drive back to Bath: There are seven quaint and comfortable rooms upstairs that can be had for about $200 per night.
34–36 Exmouth Market
England EC1R 4QE
Tel: 44 207 8338336
The much-lauded Moro has been the place to go for its passionate exploration of Moorish cuisine ever since husband-and-wife team Sam and Sam Clark opened for business in 1997. Its pared-down interior (simple dark-wood tables, bare green and cream walls, banquettes with bolster cushions) is the backdrop for Moro's interestingly combined Spanish and North African delicacies, such as steamed artichoke hearts with fresh cheese, sweet herbs, and pistachio, or a main of wood-roasted sea bass served with cabbage, crispy capers, and grilled meat in a basil, parsley, cilantro, and garlic sauce. If the restaurant is busy, grab tapas at the long zinc bar, or pop into Moro's sister (and cheaper) tapas bar, Morito, next door.—Giovanna Dunmall
Open Mondays through Saturdays 12:30 to 2:30 pm and 7 to 10:30 pm; tapas served all day.
England LA23 1PL
Tel: 44 153 943 3193
A favored inn in the Troutbeck Valley since 1689, the Mortal Man is known for fabulous views down the valley to Lake Windermere. The restaurant prides itself on serving massive portions of traditional local specialties such as roast shoulder of Cumbrian lamb, served with onion puree, pomme fondant and green peas. The large bar offers simpler pub grub, like a smoked trout fillet with a spring vegetable salad in creamy tomato dressing and a Cumberland sausage baguette sandwich, topped with grilled onions and ale gravy. All 12 guest rooms get the celebrated vistas, but the best panoramas are provided by the ones on the top floor.
2 South Embankment
Dartmouth , Devon
Tel: 44 1803 839 425
If you spot people peering, blushing, and pretending not to stare the way they do with a celebrity in the house, that's because the chef-owner himself is a TV luminary (and okay, maybe that's Mrs. & Mr. Paltrow-Martin at the corner table). John Burton-Race acquired the once-legendary Carved Angel restaurant (hence the new name) and thoroughly new-Brit-ized it from soup to nuts—literally—reopening in May 2004 to great buzz and fuss, and taking only seven months to win Devon's first Michelin star. The constantly changing fish dishes are based on the day boat's catch: Brixham turbot grilled with béarnaise sauce; steamed sea bass with braised vegetables; creamed leeks and oyster broth. Meat is just as local, such as roasted, herb-crusted Blackawton lamb.
Closed Sunday evenings and Mondays.
1 Paul's Walk
England EC4V 3QQ
Tel: 44 20 7329 9299
After getting your fill of art at Tate Modern, cross the Millennium Bridge and fill up on Falmouth crab, Duchy of Cornwall oysters, and grilled Dartmoor hog's pudding in the buzzy atmosphere of Northbank. Created by Christian Butler, formerly of Baltic, this place aims to make the most of the cracking view over the Thamesthere's raised banquette seating indoors and soft wool blankets (this is England, after all) for those who choose to sit on the outdoor terrace. Butler and head chef Peter Woods have their roots in the West Country (around Cornwall and Devon), which is reflected in both the food and the alcoholthere's mead from Somerset, cider from Devon, and even a white wine from Cornwall. For those who want more tried and tested vintages, there's also a huge selection of international wines from Lebanon via Austria to Oregon.
Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 11 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm.
287 Upper Street
England N1 2TZ
Tel: 44 207 2881454
Tube: Highbury & Islington
Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi has a knack for making vegetables sexy—he might pair roasted red and yellow beets with quince, basil, and macadamia nuts, or drizzle truffle oil over char-grilled zucchini with pistachio, pecorino, and basil. There are also fish and meat dishes with bold flavors, such as seared scallops with tempura anchovies, chickpeas, potato chowder, and herbs, or roasted pork filet with butter bean purée and quince tart. Of course, Ottolenghi's sophisticated desserts and cakes (rum and chocolate fondant cake or blackberry financier with mascarpone) on appetizing display in the window are reason enough to slide into a Panton chair at the dining room's candelabra-lit communal table. Smaller tables are available as well, if you're not feeling sociable.—Giovanna Dunmall
Open Mondays through Saturdays 8 am to 11 pm, Sundays 9 am to 7 pm.
Milburn Orchard Farm
Bigbury-on-Sea , Devon
Tel: 44 1548 810 876
Maybe it's counterintuitive to make a reservation at a shack, but this extremely laid-back spot is so phenomenally popular that there's little point turning up without one. You may well find stragglers from lunch still here at 6 p.m., relishing the Mediterranean tavern feel. Everything has that plucked-from-the-sea taste that goes down so well with a cocktail or glass of wine. On the huge seafood list: local oysters au naturel or grilled with garlic and Parmesan or bacon and Worcestershire sauce; famous local crab soup; grilled whole Dover sole.
St. Ives , Cornwall
Tel: 44 1736 795 352
Since taking over in 2002, young Australian chef and surfer Michael Smith has turned this informal beachfront bistro with simple white decor and brightly colored contemporary art into a happening, must-book destination. Superfresh seafood dominates the menu, much of it spiked with Mediterranean or Asian flavors, such as pan-fried Falmouth scallops dressed with yuzu, purple shiso, and sanga radish. On the terrace, heaters and blankets keep the shivers away after the sun sets so you can stay put and finish that bottle of white wine being chilled in a plastic beach bucket.
Closed Mondays and for breakfast and lunch Thursday through Saturday in the off-season.
England LA22 0NS
Tel: 44 153 943 6271
In the dining room of this traditional coaching inn, built in 1548 in the town where Wordsworth went to grammar school, the emphasis is on organic lake trout from Esthwaite Water, as well as local favorites such as wild Graythwaite estate pheasant, cured hams and Cumberland sausage, Herdwick lamb, local venison, haggis, black pudding, and fresh cheeses. The inn also rents 13 rooms and is a convenient base for exploring Near Sawrey (where Beatrix Potter lived), Esthwaite Water, Grizedale Forest, Claife Heights, and Tarn Hows.
239 Brompton Road
Tube: South Kensington
Tel: 44 207 584 4477
10 Widcombe Parade
England BA2 4JT
Tel: 44 1225 448 870
If you keep hearing about the British gastropub phenomenon, this is a good place to see what the fuss is about. An alehouse since 1837, this modest-looking place was overhauled in 2002; it's now an open-plan, stone-walled nouveau pub with farmhouse tables and a big skylight. The monthly-changing, pan-Euro menus with daily specials are fresh and usually interesting (if egregiously spelled: beetroot-cumin "gazpatcio" and a "creviche" of salmon and scallops were on offer recently). Alongside the beers on tap—including Guinness, the Belgian white beer Leffe, and one or two "guest ales"—there's a good wine list.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road
Tel: 44 207 386 4200
What could be more blissful than a meal on the terrace of this perpetually booked, much-imitated Italian-style gastro-temple opened in 1987 by the late Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers? If the climate proves too chilly, the floor-to-ceiling windows in this former warehouse in the Hammersmith hinterland (designed by the firm of Ruth's husband, Richard Rogers) provide lovely views over gardens to the Thames. A crowd of heavy hitters and famous faces inconspicuously feast on the Tuscan bread salad or pasta or grilled meat or grilled fish or any other simple, perfect dish from the perpetually evolving menu. Of course, for not much more than the price of lunch here, you could fly to Tuscany and eat the real thing in situ. The best time to go is at lunch on a fine day.
23 St. James's Street
England SW1A 1HA
Tel: 44 20 7925 8988
Once you've found Sake No Hana—no mean feat, since there's no sign outside—the lighting, or lack of it, will further impede your progress upstairs. Stick with it, though, because the dimly lit escalator opens up into an airy bamboo den, with large windows. Owner Alan Yau's first foray into Japanese fine dining—following big success with Wagamama, Hakkasan, and Yauatcha—doesn't disappoint. Wagyu beef and king crab are excellent but will set you back a pretty penny. If you're here for lunch, try the Bento boxes: They include a good selection of braised dishes (pork ribs with sugar snap peas are great) and exemplary tempura, and are a little easier on the wallet. The sushi and sashimi are not your usual conveyor belt-selection; in addition to classics like fatty tuna and prawn, expect sea bass, turbot, and blue swimmer crab (most sushi rolls are priced around $10). The service is efficient and the Austrian sommelier is happy to show you around the exclusively old-world wine list as well as the enormous selection of sakes. And if you prefer your Japanese food at a low-level table sans shoes, be sure to mention it when you book. The restaurant is co-owned by Evgeny Lebedev, son of the new owner of London's Evening Standard newspaper, Russian oligarch and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev. Needless to say, with these kind of credentials the restaurant attracts the capital's rich set (Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal is a regular).
Open daily noon to 3 pm and 6 pm to midnight.
4 North Parade Passage
England BA1 1NX
Tel: 44 1225 461 634
There's no point pretending this funny little place in the heart of Bath is anything other than a tourist trap—but it's actually worth a visit. According to a legend of dubious authenticity, a French refugee girl moved into this, the oldest house in Bath (dating from 1482) sometime in the 17th century, and started baking rich buns a foot in diameter. (There's a museum in the basement with displays explaining all this.) Nowadays, half a toasted Sally Lunn with a topping (preferably Welsh rarebit) still makes a fabulous lunch, and the busy scene with grannies in their coats sipping tea hasn't changed in decades.
Padstow , Cornwall
Tel: 44 1841 532 700
Rick Stein owns Padstow—he made Padstow; he is Padstow. Rick Stein, in case you hadn't heard, is the premier fish chef of England, especially since he got his own TV shows (though mercifully he remains unaffected and likable). His food has always been likable too, big in flavor, inventive but not gimmicky, balanced and understated. This is the most serious of his four Padstow restaurants—the others are a bistro, a café, and a fish and chip shop. Menus are totally dependent on the fishermen, but if anyone in the country can score the pick of the catch, Stein can. He'll cook classic (roast turbot with hollandaise; skate with black butter) or modish (char-grilled sea bass with tomato, butter, and vanilla vinaigrette); ethnic (monkfish Goan curry with cucumber and lime salad and cumin puris) or fusion (Dover sole with stir-fried wild garlic, sorrel and asparagus, soy sauce, and sesame oil dressing)—it's all good. There's always at least one meat dish, but would you go to Le Bernardin to eat steak? Reserve way in advance.
9 Conduit Street
Tube: Oxford Circus
Tel: 44 870 777 4488
This multimillion-pound collaboration between triple-Michelin laureate Pierre Gagnaire and Mourad Mazouz (owner of Momo, the groovy North African restaurant off Regent Street; 25 Heddon St., Piccadilly, W1; 44-207-434-4040; www.momoresto.com) has completely transformed a grand period building. The reinvented space—done up with a slightly weird modern interior and pitched to a rich, arty crowd—houses a bistro (The Gallery), a restaurant (The Library & Lecture Room), assorted bars, a nightclub, and a pâtisserie. Brace yourself: In the Library & Lecture Room—luxuriously upholstered with honey-colored quilted walls and bull's-eye mirrors—you'll run across probably the highest prices in London (expect to pay £500 for dinner for two if eating à la carte). Surrender to finely wrought dish-ettes: a charcuterie starter with silky goose foie gras; pigeon breast perfumed with juniper; langoustine four ways; veal sweetbreads; breast of Chalosse chicken poached in Mersault; partridge and wild boar; lobster tail with apple sauce. There are five different menus: from à la carte down to the plat du jour.
Tube: Waterloo or Embankment
England SE1 8XX
Tel: 44 207 654 7800
When Skylon opened in 2007 in Southbank Centre, the notoriously snippy London food press groused that its food didn't measure up to the view. More recent visits have revealed that the view over the Thames is as lovely as ever, and even better, Skylon's kitchen has learned from, or perhaps simply outlasted, its detractors. Finnish-born executive chef Helena Puolakka offers an elegant restaurant menu as well as a slightly less formal "grill" menu, both dominated by seafood. The best dishes are creative fish and vegetable preparations with bright, tangy sauces, like salmon with kohlrabi and tomato "petals," and pan-fried halibut with baby squid and chorizo. Some of Skylon's signature dishes bear a Scandinavian stamp, such as the gravlax and mackerel tartare. The atmosphere has a Nordic flavor as well, expressed in the Danish furniture and midcentury modern air of the wood, glass, and steel surroundings (themselves an homage to the original Skylon, a 1951 art installation that once stood on the site). Reserve ahead, but arrive early enough for a drink from the classic cocktail menu at the bar, to sip while watching the sun light up the river.—Siobhan Adcock
Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 11 pm, Sundays noon to 10:30 pm.
26 St. John Street
Tel: 44 207 251 0848
They call it "Nose-to-Tail Eating," and you'll be amazed at the number of obscure cuts that can crop up between those too extremes and end up on your plate. Luckily, the straight-talking menu and knowledgeable staff will explain all, including the all-French wine list. Head chef Chris Gillard's British dishes are inventive but not overcomplicated, such as a crispy pig's cheek with dandelion and a roast forerib of beef with horseradish. End with one of the house specialties, Eccles cake (puff pastry filled with currants), with Lancashire cheese. In keeping with the menu, the interiors are of a utilitarian bent; apart from a few extra skylights and a lick of white paint, this former bacon smokehouse remains pretty much in its original state. A second restaurant, St. John Bread and Wine Spitalfield, opened in a former bank just opposite Spitalfield's Market in 2003, and houses the restaurants' bakery (94–96 Commercial St.).
King's Head Inn
England CA12 4TN
Tel: 44 176 877 2393
There are two choices for dining at this 17th-century coaching inn. The more elegant St. Johns Restaurant offers panoramic views of St. Johns in the Vale and dishes made from the freshest of local ingredients. The popular lamb shank is marinated in Jennings bitter and accompanied with potatoes and seasonal root vegetables. In the more laid-back bar room, with ladder-back chairs under a beamed ceiling, you can nosh on traditional cod and chips or a local Borrowdale trout dish, accompanied by beer a Cumberland or Cockerhoop Ale. The inn also offers 17 rooms with original oak beams and Inglenook fireplaces. There is a separate poolroom with a big-screen TV for major sporting events.
St. Johns Restaurant open for dinner only; pub open for lunch and dinner.
18–20 Southwark Street
England SE1 1TJ
Tel: 44 20 7357 8880
It is unfortunate that the best place to eat in Borough Market is also the busiest, and it doesn't take reservations. Still, Brindisa does a swift trade, and it's fun to stand at the bar people-watching and eating olives and jamón as you wait for a table. Chef José Manuel Pizarro is influenced by his homeland on the central plains of Extremadura, but he also brings a modern twist and vision to traditional Spanish cooking. Expect all the tapas classics (ranging from $7 to $13), but highlights include deep-fried Monte Enebro goat cheese with orange blossom honey, and grilled León chorizo on toast with piquillo pepper. On Fridays and Saturdays, come early for a Spanish breakfast.The service here is unfailingly friendly and efficient and the atmosphere buzzy. In the summer, the giant windows, which replaced the old roller shutters in this former potato factory, are flung open onto this bustling corner of the market.
Open Mondays through Thursdays 11 am to 11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 9 am to 11 pm.
England NR1 3RF
Tel: 44 1603 766 670
A one-minute walk from the cathedral close is this bi-level bistro that many consider to be Norwich's best casual restaurant. With walls painted in National Trust colors (historically correct hues—a bit of a U.K. cliché, but still good-looking), pine farmhouse tables, bare floorboards, and leather chesterfield sofas in the upstairs bar, the ambience is laid-back—as is the kind, efficient service. Chef Brendan Ansbro's cooking is confident in the extreme: He pulls fresh, seasonal, local ingredients into slightly unusual combinations, such as salt and pepper fried squid with black bean dressing and crispy onions, or Haughley Farm chicken breast with pancetta ragout, wild mushrooms, chorizo, and cabbage and mash. Altogether, this jolly place typifies all that's good about "nouvelle Norfolk." Do reserve ahead, especially for weekends; it's popular.
England LA22 9NZ
Tel: 44 153 943 7215
This traditional slate inn of 1872 occupies a fabulous location at the heart of the Langdales with views over Tilberthwaite fells. The popular stone-floored bar serves a wide selection of ales and whiskies, as well as good food. Edibles range from lunch at the bar—Cumberland sausages, roast ham, homemade fish-cakes—to dinner in the more refined restaurant, where a meal might consist of smoked breast of wood pigeon, a poached fillet of red sea bream in lemongrass and ginger, or roast leg of Lakeland lamb served with a garlic confit and mint-scented jus. Too full to move? There are also ten rooms and one self-catering cottage for rent.
Restaurant open for dinner only; bar open for lunch and dinner.
43 Elystan Street
Tube: South Kensington
Tel: 44 207 584 2003
This sleek Anouska Hempel–designed restaurant in Chelsea is the stage for the talents of Tom Aikens, who after difficult times (his restaurant company succumbed to the credit crunch in 2008) has nevertheless managed to uphold this restaurant's reputation as one of the United Kingdom's most serious gastronomic destinations. The posh but relaxed 60-seat interior has round tables dramatically draped in black and overlaid with raw white Irish linen; matching napkins and beautiful glass and chinaware complete the look. The effect is grown-up—not sedate—chic. On the menu, expect innovative French-informed cooking that stops short of being wacky and experimental. Standout examples include cured venison with pickled beets, quince, and venison carpaccio, and red mullet with pistachio risotto. If you can't decide, order the tasting menu, which runs to eight courses. A bonus: the excellent sommelier.—Updated by Giovanna Dunmall
Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 2:30 pm and 6:45 to 11:00 pm, Saturdays 6:45 to 11:00pm.
300–302 St. Paul's Road
England N1 2LH
Tel: 44 20 7226 2733
Britain's hometown hero, Jamie Oliver has been spending a lot of time across the pond changing the way Americans eat. He's left the crown in good hands, though. As he reports, "One of my students from the first year [of Fifteen], Tim Siadatan, has set up a restaurant that's had amazing reviews." The 28-year-old chef's Trullo has acquired cultlike status due to its ingredient-driven, Italian-leaning food. The 40-seat utilitarian space buzzes with British tastemakers, starched financial types, and writers, actors, and artists, while James Dean look-alikes cheerily serve chili-spiked tagliarini and perfectly charred lamb (entrées, $25-$32).
Must eat: Slow-cooked lamb with grilled eggplant and salsa verde.
Tel: 44 1328 713 230
This suite of sunny rooms filled with farmhouse tables and Rajasthani doodads is so comfy you won't feel like leaving once the meal's done (and that may take a while; the servers here tend to be young and somewhat distracted). The food is exemplary, and all local. The beef was raised here on the surrounding estate of the Earl of Leicester; the game was shot here, and the oysters gathered from down the nearby shore, as was the samphirea kind of wild seaside asparagus with a sadly short season (late spring). Some typical dishes: spaghetti with local crab, lemon, cream, and Parmesan; skate wing with fondant potato, baby leeks, capers, and aged balsamic vinegar; pan-fried calf's liver with parsley mash, crispy bacon, and maple syrup. There's also amazing fish and chips and kid-size miniburgers made of Holkham beef. Reservations are essential. The ten-room hotel upstairs is also recommended.
Woolacombe , Devon
Tel: 44 1271 870 877
See funky young Devon in progress at this restaurant and bar that opened in 2003, largely to cater to the surfers who virtually own this beach. The interior reflects the restaurant's seaside setting, with beach scenes by local artists on the walls and salvaged driftwood tables and chairs. The food is hearty Euro-Brit-Asian: mussels marinière or with lemongrass and coconut; spicy beef salad with Thai dressing; linguine with clams, mussels, chili, and cherry tomatoes; grilled sea bass with fennel, orange, black olives, and basil. Then there are classic plateaux de fruits de mer and proper puddings like a summer fruit charlotte with clotted cream. On a fine day, after catching a wave (or after driving here), the bar and beachside terrace are as chill as Ocho Rios. Upstairs, there are even "surf shack"-style apartments you can stay in (Westbeach Studios; 44-1271-871-224; www.surfersworld.co.uk/hotela.htm).
7 George Street
Moretonhampstead , Devon
England TQ13 8PG
Tel: 44 1647 440 242
Charming and unexpected, the White Horse Inn on Moretonhampstead's high street leads a delicious double life: part old-school English pub, part modern Italian trattoria. At first glance, the White Horse Inn is an archetypal pub where friendly, wellie-clad locals gather on weekends to listen to live music and sit by the broad fireplace. But beyond the bar, you'll find a bright, Mediterranean-inspired courtyard, a dining room that resembles a Tuscan farmhouse, a rustic Italian menu, and what may very well be the best pizza in western England. Bought in 2006 and renovated by partners Nigel Hoyle and Malene Graulund, the revitalized White Horse Inn is still a center of Moretonhampstead's community life, but it's the excellent menu that has put the establishment on the map: Dinner standouts include Dartmoor rabbit dressed in fragrant sage mousse and salty pancetta, and locally caught brill sole in a rich, smoky seafood broth. At lunch, the thin-crust pizza from a custom-built oven is a taste of Naples in the Devon countryside.
12 St. George Street
Tel: 44 20 7758 9160
Wild Honey is an unexpected haven tucked away on a quiet side street in the bustling West End. Occupying an attractive wood-paneled room formerly used by Marco Pierre White, the restaurant is the younger sibling of London favorite Arbutus. But while Arbutus has been criticized for its antiseptic decor and frosty service, Wild Honey is a warm and welcoming spot to settle in for an hour or two (grab one of the cozy banquettes). Chef Anthony Demetre creates unpretentious, seasonal dishes such as beet and smoked-eel tart or pork with apple puree. The wine list will suit all budgets—every bottle is also available by the carafe—as will the modestly priced set menu at lunch ($24 for three courses).
Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 2:30 pm and 6 to 11 pm, Sundays noon to 3 pm and 6 to 10:30 pm.
Tube: Green Park
Tel: 44 207 499 6996
Jeremy King and Christopher Corbin, erstwhile owners of Le Caprice, The Ivy, and J. Sheekey, have rebounded with this stunning brasserie. Set in a former Wolseley car showroom on Piccadilly, the place fairly reverberates with movers and shakers. Designer David Collins has teased from the faintly monastic interior a romantic and dramatic evocation of a Viennese brasserie, complete with soaring domed ceiling, chinoiserie lacquering, gilded bar, sheer linen tablecloths, and brass reading lamps. The kitchen caters to all appetites, occasions, and emergencies, serving everything from breakfast—which has become particularly popular recently—to patisseries to bar snacks. At lunch and dinner, tuck into soups, grilled fish, spit roasts, hamburgers, Wiener Schnitzel, and kaiserschmarren (sweet omelet pancake). Tables are kept aside for walk-ins, but expect lines during peak hours. Just as hot a reservation—if not hotter—is a table at their December 2006 opening, St. Alban, with its businesslike decor and Mediterranean menus (Rex House, 4–12 Regent St., Piccadilly, SW1; 44-207-499-8558; 44-207-499-8558; www.stalban.net).