St. John, 26 St. John St., EC1 (tel. 020/7251-0848): In a former smokehouse north of Smithfield Market, this is the major venue for serious carnivores in London. Chef Fergus Henderson is England's biggest devotee in ofal cuisine -- meaning "nose-to-tail cookery." This earthy food obviously will not appeal to vegetarians, but it would delight a reincarnated Henry VIII.
Fifteen, 15 West Land Place, W1 (tel. 0870/787-1515): In Shoreditch, the author of The Naked Chef, James Oliver, takes "disadvantaged" young people and trains them from scratch. In just 4 months, they are tempting you with their modern British cuisine as chefs of the day. Amazingly, the food you're served is praiseworthy, even attracting some of London's Michelin-starred chefs.
Simpson's-in-the-Strand, 100 The Strand, WC2 (tel. 020/7836-9112): At least once forsake London's trendy restaurants and dine as Sir Winston did back in the post-war '50s when he was prime minister. It's partaking of "The Deadly Sins" to dine here: roast sirloin of beef; steak, kidney, and mushroom pie; and roast saddle of mutton with red currant jelly.
Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, Brook Street, W1 (tel. 020/7499-0099): We'd cast our vote for Gordon as the hottest and most talented chef in London today. In the city's swankiest luxe hotel, he dazzles the most serious international foodies with his take on a modern continental cuisine using, for the most part, British products. Close your eyes, take your finger, and point at any item on the menu. Chances are, you'll be delighted.
, 9 Conduit St., W1 (tel. 0870/777-4488): Hailed by the British press as a "camp wonderland," this is a restaurant, tearoom, art gallery, bar, and patisserie. There is no more chic joint at which you could be at night. The Continental and modern British cuisine is divine as well.
Club Gascon, 57 W. Smithfield, EC1 (tel. 020/7796-0600): Chef Pascal Aussignac is all the rage, bringing a corner of southwestern France to London -- and that spells Armagnac, foie gras, and duck confit. This bistro stands next to the famous meat market in Smithfield, and it's the best place in town for a foie gras pig-out.
MORE BEST BETS
Best Spot for a Celebration: There's no spot in all of London that's more fun than Quaglino's, 16 Bury St., SW1 (tel. 020/7930-6767), which serves up Continental cuisine. On some nights, as many as 800 diners show up at Sir Terence Conran's gargantuan Mayfair eatery. It's the best place in London to celebrate almost any occasion -- and the food's good, too. There's live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights.
Best for Value: Called the market leader in cafe salons, Veronica's, 3 Hereford Rd., W2 (tel. 020/7229-5079), serves not only some of the best traditional British fare, but also some of the most affordable. Many of the chef's recipes are based on medieval or Tudor culinary secrets, and some even go back to the days of the conquering Romans.
Best Modern British Cuisine: In a former smokehouse just north of Smithfield Market, St. John, 26 St. John St., EC1 (tel. 020/7251-0848), serves a modern interpretation of British cuisine like none other in town. The chefs here believe in using offal (those parts of the animal that are usually discarded) -- after all, why use just parts of the animal when you can use it all? Although some diners are a bit squeamish at first, they're usually hooked once they get past the first bite. Book ahead of time.
Best Traditional British Cuisine: There is no restaurant in London that's quite as British as Simpson's-in-the-Strand, 100 The Strand, WC2 (tel. 020/7836-9112), which has been serving the finest English roast beef since 1828. Henry VIII, were he to return, would surely pause for a feast here. This place is such a British institution that you'll think they invented roast saddle of mutton.
Best for Kids: The owner, the Earl of Bradford, feeds you well and affordably at Porter's English Restaurant, 17 Henrietta St., WC2 (tel. 020/7836-6466). Kids of all ages dig Lady Bradford's once secretly guarded recipe for banana-and-ginger pudding, along with the most classic English pies served in Central London, including such old-fashioned favorites as lamb and apricot; and ham, leek, and cheese.
Best Continental Cuisine: Le Gavroche, 43 Upper Brook St., W1 (tel. 020/7408-0881), was one of the first London restaurants to serve the modern French approach to cuisine, and it's lost none of its appeal. If you want to know why, order pigeonneau de Bresse en vessie aux deux celeris: The whole bird is presented at your table, enclosed in a pig's bladder; the pigeon is removed, and then carved and served on a bed of braised fennel and celery. Trust us -- it's fabulous.
Best Indian Cuisine: London's finest Indian food is served at Café Spice Namaste, in a landmark Victorian hall near Tower Bridge, 16 Prescot St., E1 (tel. 020/7488-9242). You'll be tantalized by an array of spicy southern and northern Indian dishes. We like the cuisine's Portuguese influence; the chef, Cyrus Todiwala, is from Goa (a Portuguese territory absorbed by India), where he learned many of his culinary secrets.
Best Italian Cuisine: At Zafferano, 15 Lowndes St., SW1 (tel. 020/7235-5800), master chefs prepare delectable cuisine with ingredients that conjure up the Mediterranean shores. The most refined palates of Knightsbridge come to this chic, rustic trattoria for refined dishes like pheasant and black-truffle ravioli with rosemary.
Best Innovative Cuisine: Irish chef Richard Corrigan brings sophisticated modern British cuisine to Lindsay House, 21 Romilly St., W1 (tel. 020/7439-0450). The menu depends on what looks good at the daily market combined with the chef's inspiration for the day. When you sample his breast of wood pigeon with foie gras and pumpkin chutney, you'll want to kidnap him for your kitchen.
Best for Spotting Celebrities: Archipelago, 110 Whitfield St., W1 (tel. 020/7383-3346), is small and intimate, a cozy retreat for Hugh Hefner and the other celebs in London. Media headliner Michael Von Hruschka runs this Thai and French restaurant with whimsy and many precious touches, such as a drink list inserted in an ostrich eggshell. But the cuisine doesn't depend on gimmicks. It's first rate in both ingredients and preparation.
Best Seafood: Back to Basics, 21A Foley St., W1 (tel. 020/7436-2181), is no fish-and-chips joint. Stefan Plaumer's Fitzrovia bistro serves some of the freshest seafood in town. You name it: broiled, grilled, baked, or poached; anything except fried -- and the chefs will cook the fish to your specifications. An array of delicacies from the sea awaits you here, from plump, tasty mussels to sea bass given an extra zing with chili oil.
Best Wine-Bar Food: Cork & Bottle Wine Bar, 44-46 Cranbourn St., WC2 (tel. 020/7734-7807), serves the best wine-bar food in London. The raised ham-and-cheese pie alone is worth the trek across town -- it's hardly your typical quiche. Also try the Mediterranean prawns with garlic and asparagus, or the lamb in ale. The wine selection is superb, with a strong emphasis on selections from Australia.
Best Cantonese Cuisine: Fung Shing, 15 Lisle St., WC2 (tel. 020/7437-1539), is a culinary landmark, serving the finest Cantonese cuisine in London, both traditional and innovative. The seasonal specials are the way to go. Stewed duck with yam, tender ostrich in yellow-bean sauce, and a delectable whole sea bass are some of the delicious treats.
Best Late-Night Dining: Atlantic Bar & Grill, 20 Glasshouse St., W1 (tel. 020/7734-4888), is a Titanic restaurant installed in a former Art Deco ballroom off Piccadilly Circus. Modern British cuisine, with an emphasis on organic and homegrown products, is served in a cosmopolitan atmosphere until 3 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
Best Japanese Cuisine: Robert De Niro and his gang have generated much excitement about Nobu, in the Metropolitan Hotel, 19 Old Park Lane, W1 (tel. 020/7447-4747). The sushi chefs create gastronomic pyrotechnics with their raw dishes.
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For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed restaurants, visit our London dining index.