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Exclusive | London: Where to Eat Part Two

Exclusive | London: Where to Eat Part Two

London's new breed of restaurants caters to a sophisticated, trendy crowd. They are gay-friendly, although their patronage is mostly straight. (Their wait staff is many times a different story...)

If you're looking for a romantic dinner ? deux, and your credit can stand it, go straight. The Ivy (1 West St; +44-20-7836-4751; ?16-45) 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.

If it's celebrities you're after, London's outpost of the Joe Allen empire (13 Exeter St.; +44-20-7836-0651; ?15-20.50) is a great place to spot Shakespearean thesps post-show, and it buzzes much later into the night than many London restaurants. Cocoon (65 Regent St., near Piccadilly Circus, +44-20-7494-7600; ?18-41) stunning design, great cocktails and luxurious, modern pan-Asian dishes await you at one of London's newest restaurants. Specializing in produce from the British Isles and their surrounding waters, Amba (The May Fair, 70 Stratton St.; +44-20-7629-7777; ?22-27) is a spacious, slick Fendi-designed room (and the site of a Pink video). Redwood-hued striped leather banquettes and elegant faux crocodile textures create the backdrop for a fashionably clad upscale set to feast on perfectly cooked British lamb cutlets, fresh pea shoots and pumpkin pearl barley risotto. An attentive but down to earth staff provides impeccable service.

Momo (25 Heddon St., W1; +44-20/7434-4040; ?14-24), located just off Regent Street, is one of the most happening places to eat. The terrific North African/New French cuisine and authentic d?cor draw a trendy and celebrity-studded crowd. Staff is legendary for being rude and abrupt, but so is dancing on the table. Reservations essential. Nobu (Metropolitan Hotel, 19 Old Park Lane; +44-20/7447-4747; ?10.50-28) is the London outpost of L.A. and New York chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. The tastes are incredible for Japanese food -- spicy and seasoned with South American and particularly Peruvian influences. With great food and gracious staff, reservations should be made well in advance.

The Zetter Restaurant (?16-23) has wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows, affords an energetic street scene from its calming interior. Solo diners can park it at the bar or grab a corner table to enjoy the scene outside and inside, and then nibble on roast guinea fowl, grilled octopus, risotto or other tasty delectables. You're around the corner from Fabric (8 till late), host of the notoriously fun DPTM Sunday night party, one of the best in town. London has more than its share of delectable Indian restaurants, but one of the most interesting is Rasa Samudra (5 Charlotte St.; +44-20-7637-0222; ?7-13), one of the first restaurants in England to specialize in Keralan seafood fare. Through color alone, the restaurant's pink fa?ade 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.

One of London's hidden treasures is Maison Bertaux (28 Greek St., Soho; +44-20-7437-6007; ?2-5). 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 wait staff 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.

Another London institution for coffee and cake, Patisserie Valerie (44 Old Compton St.; +44-20-7437-3466; ?4-9) is right in the thick of London's gay scene. Another cheap but cheerful Soho outpost is Ed's Easy Diner (12 Moor St.; +44-20-7434-4439; ?5-8) a British take on an American Graffiti-era diner with good burgers, fries and malt shakes, plus a great fifties/sixties selection on the jukebox.

Sketch (9 Conduit St., W1; +44-207-659-4500) tops the list of London's see-and-be-seen addresses these days -- a bar/restaurant/art gallery that has taken atmosphere and attitude to new heights. If you bristle at the thought of paying dearly for a meal that's more style than substance, as we often do, beware: dinner in the formal upstairs "lecture room," with its entirely over-the-top bejeweled restrooms (?45-60) can cost upwards of ?250 per person. But if you tingle with delight at the fusion of food, fad and fashion, as we sometimes do, go for dinner downstairs in the video-art gallery (?12-24). The large percentage of "straight" young guys at the bar with miniskirted girlfriends on their arms who pay curious attention to each other's low-slung, short-rise jeans in the East Bar make a night at Sketch distinctly memorable.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

Related Articles:
London: Introduction
London: Where to Stay
London: Where to Play/Meet
London: What to See and Do
London: Resources

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