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London Restaurants

London Restaurants

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London's dynamic restaurant scene is equaled only by New York's in its diversity. Modern British cuisine takes its influences from the world -- from California to Thailand by way of the Mediterranean -- but the emphasis in the best restaurants is increasingly on the seasonality and quality of the produce, meat, and fish on offer.

Expense It

If you've brought your +1 and are looking for a romantic dinner a deux, go straight. The Ivy (1-5 West St; +44-20-7836-4751; PS9-39) provides a traditional but fabulous and gay-friendly night out, with a client list to die for, delicious food, and courteous service. But beware: The waiting list for a table is months long, so you'll need to book before you arrive in Europe.

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Unique Opportunities

If all the pinstripes and grays are beginning to pall, invest in spice at Rasa Samudra (5 Charlotte St.; +44-20-7637-0222; PS6-13), one of the first restaurants in England to specialize in Keralan seafood fare. Through color alone, the restaurant's pink facade announces, "Indian food served here." Reserve a table in the Ootupura Room, where the walls are fuchsia, and gold-painted elephant headpieces adorn the room.

Your Dime

London's outpost of the Joe Allen empire (13 Exeter St.; +44-20-7836-0651; PS8-16) is a great place to spot Shakespearean thesps post-show, and it buzzes much later into the night than many London restaurants.

Gay Plates

If your itinerary doesn't allow you to hop on the Eurostar to Paris, Maison Bertaux (28 Greek St., Soho; +44-20-7437-6007; PS2-5) is a hidden treasure waiting to transport you. Lying just off Old Compton Street in the heart of London's gay village, this tiny French patisserie has been charming visitors since 1871. An eclectic blend of faded Victoriana and 1950s retro gives a real sense of the coffee houses of yesteryear. The exceptionally handsome waitstaff serves coffee and wonderful pastries well into the evening, while upstairs a tiny tearoom/theater showcases fringe productions. Derek Jarman was a regular there and his photo jostles for space with a riot of others above the counter.

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