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AMAYA BAR & GRILL
15 Motcomb St.
A stylish introduction to London's famous Indian-food scene, Amaya showcases the talents of Karunesh Khanna, who trained at posh places like the Dorchester and the Four Seasons before landing his own showcase. The focus here is on grilling, with three variations on the theme. Peer into the open kitchen to see line chefs working a sigri (charcoal grill), a tandoor oven and iron skillets. Sauces are subtle, with standards like ginger, lime and coconut never overpowering one another. Reserve a table weeks in advance, and be prepared to rub shoulders with celebs like Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jade Jagger. The restaurant's slick design in sari colors and Khanna's elevated Indian street food, made for sharing, only raise the fabulosity quotient.
74 Blackfriars Rd.
A cavernous converted coach house is the setting for innovative, modern Polish (who knew!) food. Eggplant and caviar blinis, vodka-cured salmon with potato pancakes or paprika chicken with bean salad might turn up on the monthly-changing menu. Other enticements include stellar infused-vodka cocktails, frequent star-spotting opportunities, and Sunday and late-night jazz sessions. Where else could you toast each other over Ambers—buffalo-grass vodka, fresh ginger, cinnamon and limoncello? Cool, contemporary Baltic is a natural for post-Tate and pre-theater trysts.
On a sunny day, this unpretentious restaurant in a converted 17th-century mansion near Kensington and Notting Hill is pure magic—especially if you score one of the five terrace tables. The eclectic Euro cuisine hasn't a distinct personality, but the chef does a fine job on standards like foie gras, smoked-salmon tortellini, and sausage and mash. The crowd tends to be older—many are bound for Opera Holland Park, strains of which float through the open windows on summer evenings. After dinner, you can stroll across the formal rose gardens and visit with the peacocks.
159 Farringdon Rd.
One of the first gastro-pubs in London, the Eagle is the genuine item: an authentic neighborhood local with a loyal cadre of patrons who come for the low-key atmosphere and tasty, reasonably priced food. The chalkboard menu changes daily—sometimes hourly as popular dishes run out—but there are always soup, meat, pasta, fish and vegetarian selections. Clever pairing: The spicy-steak sandwich and a chilled pint of bitter. The decor is funky, with chairs that look (and sometimes are) rickety, but service is swift and friendly, and the ingredients are fresh. Perfect for a pre-theater bite or pre-clubbing fortification.
191 Portobello Rd.