Expert recommendations for the best places to eat in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)
The Buttery Garden Café at Burgh House
"If you don't want the full monty, they do wonderful cream tea in a secret garden."—Henrietta Green, founder of www.foodloversbritain.com. They'll also pack you a picnic—organic bread, Neal's Yard cheese, and homemade chutney—for nearby Hampstead Heath. New End Square, Hampstead; tel. 44 (0) 207 431 2516. www.burghhouse.org.uk
"Shockingly cheap Pakistani joint. Noisy, smoky, they rush you in and out, but their tandoori roasted lamb chops are a thing of beauty."—Jay Rayner, restaurant critic of The Observer. 83-89 Fieldgate St., Whitechapel; tel. 44 (0) 207 247 9543.
Anchor & Hope
Dark, snug gastro-pub that dishes up hearty, meaty fare like duck crown with turnip, bacon, and peas; pigeon and foie gras terrine; braised venison and red cabbage. "Arrive early as you can't book and it's impossible to get a table."—Henrietta Green. 36 The Cut, Waterloo; tel. 44 (0) 207 928 9898.
"Sharp, modern, classic British food—potted shrimps, pies, roasts, and apple crumble. Best bacon sandwiches for miles around, but not in a hokey environment."—Jay Rayner. 2 Crispin Place, Spitalfields Mkt.; tel. 44 (0)845 686 1122. www.canteen.co.uk
"For those who love food but dislike fancy restaurants. Faultless, unpretentious Italian food paired with excellent wines."—Stephen Bayley, design consultant and author. Pavement tables ideal for watching Chelsea blondes float by. 383 Kings Rd., Chelsea; tel. 44 (0) 207 349 8111. www.osteriadellarancio.co.uk
Lovely Georgian pub with three cozy dining rooms upstairs. "While away an afternoon with the Sunday papers after delicious, traditional roast lunch."—Henrietta Green. Comfort food includes pea soup, sausage and mash, smoked haddock with creamed leeks. Chess, scrabble and backgammon in the bar. 30 Well Walk, Hampstead; tel. 44 (0) 207 794 3785. www.thewellshampstead.co.uk
Wright Brothers Oyster and Porter House
"Atmospheric, with great basics like crab cakes or fish pie listed on chalkboards. Amazing selection of oysters."—Henrietta Green. Sublime seafood simply paired with mixed leaves from Borough Market. 11 Stoney St., Borough Mkt.; tel. 44 (0) 207 403 9554. www.wrightbros.eu.com
"Superior fish and chips in historic restaurant recently revived and smartened up by haute cuisine chef, Garry Hollihead. Smooth and creamy fish soup with croutons, rouille, and Gruyère."—Guy Dimond, food and drink editor, Time Out London. Fish delivered daily from Cornwall. 2 Farmer St., Notting Hill; tel. 44 (0) 207 727 7528. www.geales.com
"My absolute favorite for modern British food. Gutsy, original, well-sourced dishes change with the season; bone marrow with toast and chopped parsley is a classic."—Henrietta Green. White walls and plain wooden furniture let the food do the talking, but the buzz is deafening. 26 St John St., Farringdon; tel. 44 207 251 0848. www.stjohnrestaurant.com
"Great food, amazing interior, super for people-watching."—Mark Sladen, director of exhibitions, Institute of Contemporary Arts. Domed ceiling, brass lamps, waist-coated staff emulate a Viennese brasserie. Go for posh full English breakfast, Arnold Bennett omelet with smoked haddock, or afternoon tea. 160 Piccadilly; tel. 44 207 499 6996. www.thewolseley.com
"For Chinese, rule one is don't go to Chinatown. This Soho haunt has an idiosyncratic menu of spicy dishes from northern China that goes beyond Cantonese classics. Service is great—rare for Chinese restaurants in central London."—Jay Rayner. 35-36 Greek St.; tel. 44 (0) 207 734 2721. www.yminglondon.com
"Ask for the special dim sum lunch menu. The room is stunning and the dim sum has no peers."—Guy Dimond. Hard to find down a seedy back alley; smoldering Oriental ambience once you get past huffy bouncers. Book well in advance. 8 Hanway Place, Fitzrovia; tel. 44 (0) 207 907 1888.
Updated Gallic classics courtesy of Michel Roux, Jr. Lobster mousse with caviar and champagne butter, whole poached duck with three sauces, served in sumptuous but reassuringly staid surroundings. Dinner jackets required. 43 Upper Brook St., Mayfair; tel. 44 (0) 207 408 0881. www.le-gavroche.co.uk
"New-wave Japanese heaving with a see-and-be-seen crowd, but manages to pull off great food and drink in a very stylish setting."—Guy Dimond. 5 Raphael St., Knightsbridge; tel. 44 (0) 207 584 1010. www.zumarestaurant.com
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