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Food & Drink
Long the butt of culinary jokes, the capital's restaurants and British cooking have improved so much in recent years that London is now regarded as among the best places in the world for eating out. The only drawback is that this can be expensive, but fixed-price meals, particularly at lunchtime, can make your pound go very much further.
What to EatThe world is your oyster, with representatives from virtually every culinary school on the planet. The most acclaimed generally fall under the banner of Modern European cuisine. When in Britain, however, it would be a shame not to eat British food, from traditional hearty English dishes to the more sophisticated, foreign-influenced, eclectic Modern British cuisine. Long assimilated into mainstream British culture, Indian food should also be on your personal menu. And of course, at the end of the night look for the nearest fish and chip shop!
Where to EatAt the cutting edge of the market the current vogue is for restaurants to boast huge dining rooms, with some likened to ocean liners. Restaurant fashion seems almost as important as the food itself and many of London's leading eating houses are owned by renowned design guru Sir Terence Conran.
Fashion pervades all the way down the price scale, with yesterday's humble cafés making way for today's trendy caffès. In line with this trend, museum catering has improved enormously in the last few years, too. If you're on a tight budget, are not concerned with frills, but want to avoid fast-food insipidity, you'll still be able to find one of London's myriad cheap and cheerful old-fashioned Italian family-run cafés.
When, Where and What to DrinkLondon is no longer straitjacketed by antiquated licensing laws and, consequently, you can now drink alcohol at most times of the day or night. As with restaurants, there are any number of different styles of bar, many of the designer variety. These can be so expensive and so busy admiring their own reflection that it's a wonder they get any custom. London has many fine traditional English pubs serving traditional English beer. At its best, it is hand-drawn from oak casks and is usually darker and warmer than lager beers.
British FoodThere are places still serving the type of food Charles Dickens would recognise - hot savoury pies, roast meats and game, and to follow steamed sweet puddings and pies - though they don't usually come cheap. The traditional British Sunday lunch (roast beef and Yorkshire pudding) is a must; try one of our recommended British restaurants or any good large hotel.
Wherever you are staying you will probably get the chance to start the day the traditional British way, with a cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon and/or sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes and/or baked beans and toast. Afternoon tea is the other great English institution, comprising small thinly sliced sandwiches, scones and/or cake. At many of London's famous hotels, such as the Ritz, afternoon tea is an important daily ritual.