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London

beef potatoes london england dinnerWhile the British Isles have long suffered a reputation for bland, unremarkable food, London is enjoying a new "best eating town in the world" reputation -- evidenced with a respectable showing of one-, two- and three-Michelin-star eateries as well as a dizzying range of ethnic cuisine options from around the globe. It's common practice for restaurants to add a service charge to your bill. If they don't, leaving 10 percent is customary with a jump closer to 15 percent at posh places.

The attraction at the Cinnamon Club is exquisite, high-end Indian cuisine with dishes like roasted plaice with Bengali spiced crab and sandalwood-flavored tandoori chicken breast with curried morels. The restaurant, open since 2001, is housed in the Old Westminster Library.

Americans might know him from his TV show "Hell's Kitchen," but Gordon Ramsay has more than TV credits as a three-starred Michelin chef with nearly a dozen restaurants scattered around London. For a taste of Ramsay's treats like slow-cooked Dingley Dell pork belly with choucroute, roasted apple, black pudding and pommes dauphine, try the set lunch at Restaurant Gordon Ramsey at 68 Royal Hospital Road.

For a cheap meal, head to Gaby's Deli at 30 Charing Cross Road. This deli, which opened in 1964 and is still run by Gaby, is a hit with celebrities (see photos of Matt Damon and others on the walls). Dishes include corned beef (called salt beef here), falafel, potato pancakes, hummus and wonderful salads, with lots of offerings for vegetarians. Better hurry: The landmark eatery is in danger of not having its lease renewed in favor of a chain restaurant that will pay more rent.

To sample the food of Jamie Oliver, the Food Network's super cute "Naked Chef," head to Fifteen, where a portion of the proceeds go to a program to support disadvantaged youths in training. The flagship cafe -- there are Fifteens in Cornwall and Amsterdam too -- recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

For smoked Scottish salmon, steak and kidney pudding, and other traditional British fare, Simpson's-in-the-Strand is the place. The roast beef is carved right at your table. (The restaurant offers 90-minute carving lessons if you want to hone your own skills.) The "Ten Deadly Sins" breakfast is a must for those with big appetites; it includes sausage, scrambled eggs, bacon, black pudding, fried mushrooms, baked tomato and egg, lamb kidney, fried bread, baked beans, and "bubble and squeak" (a traditional English dish made of potatoes and veggies).

Head to the Lanesborough Hotel for the city's best afternoon tea. A silver service sumptuously served on Royal Worcester a la tiny pots, milk jugs and pretty strainers in the chinoiserie-draped Conservatory will put you back more than $59 per person (but it's oh so worth it). A box of house-blended tea choices is presented, and the intricate brewing process is explained. Indulge in delicate sandwiches like tuna on tomato bread and curried chicken on herb bread. Your just-out-of-the-oven scones will be accompanied by a luscious sweet-but-tart lemon curd and clotted cream that'll make you purr. Just when you think it can't possibly get better, you're presented with a wonderful assortment of petite pastries.
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