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London still doesn’t have a three-star Michelin restaurant. But visiting American gastronomes have nothing to fear — save for the sky-high prices currently prevailing at the four two-star and 19 one-star Michelin restaurants. Le Gavroche, Gordon Ramsay, La Tante Claire, and The Square received well-deserved two-star ratings in the latest Michelin Guide. Waiting in the wings with one star for the moment is Mirabelle, presided over by celebrity chef Marco Pierre White. Five years ago, White received the coveted third star for his Oak Room in the Meridien Hotel. Unfortunately, The Oak Room is no more. But not to be deterred, White is charging two-star, if not three-star, prices at Mirabelle. (Then again, who among his peers isn’t?) Once described by Florence Fabricant of The New York Times as “Liam Neeson in a chef’s jacket,” White is famous for his cooking flair — and his hauteur. “I’d rather be arrogant than insecure,” White has been quoted as saying. No wonder White’s also been called “a big talent with a dash of gall.” With reason. There’s no yielding to trendiness in White’s cuisine at Mirabelle: It’s just classic French cuisine served up with �clat. You want to taste a truly great cr�me caramel with raisins? Try Marco Pierre White’s. You think you’ve had good foie gras? Try his foie gras parfait en gel�e. And White is not the only genius in town. You have to look no further than the imposing presence of Gordon Ramsay, whose eponymous restaurant is already double-starred. His is a very different kind of cooking, based not on classic French cuisine, but, God help us, on traditional English cooking. Frenchified, of course. And all the better for it. Try the caramelized sweetbread in a sauce made with Juran�on wine. Or order the poached lobster with summer vegetables and caviar. These are truly “signature dishes.” If you’re prepared to pay the price, culinary delight is here to be had. Book now. WHAT THE RATINGS MEAN The Zagat ratings are based on a 0-to-30- point scale and are for Food, Decor, and Service, in that order. The fourth column, Cost, reflects the estimated price of a dinner with one drink and tip. Lunch usually costs 25 percent less. 0-9 Poor to Fair 10-15 Fair to Good 16-19 Good to Very Good 20-25 Very Good to Excellent 26-30 Extraordinary to Perfection THE IVY 25 23 23 �41 ($61.50) 1 West St., WC2 (Leicester Square), 836-4751 So sought after that tables are “traded on the futures market,” this West End restaurant is “one place you can’t go wrong.” Despite media hype, it’s a down-to-earth kind of place with an airy setting that provides “great stargazing.” The British/European menu is both fine and consistent. THE SQUARE 26 22 24 �55 ($82.50) 6-10 Bruton St., W1 (Bond St./Green Park), 495-7100 This Mayfair New French wins praise not only for chef Philip Howard’s superb cooking, but also for the equally professional service of the waiting staff. The setting is sophisticated, the wines are well chosen, and the food is some of the best in town. SUGAR CLUB 23 18 19 �38 ($57) 21 Warwick St., W1 (Piccadilly Circus), 437-7776 Some say that Sugar Club is even better in its slick new bi-level home behind Regent Street, but others claim that it lost the informal feel it once had. Questions of ambience aside, this Eclectic Fusion restaurant still thrills most taste buds with its innovative textures and flavors. BIBENDUM 23 23 21 �48 ($72) Michelin House, 81 Fulham Rd., SW3 (South Kensington), 581-5817 This is the great restaurant in Brompton Cross, a longtime standout that impresses on all accounts. First, there’s the perfect setting in a handsome art deco building, but there’s also Matthew Harris’s imaginative French-Eclectic cooking. The debate, if there is any, is over the service. Some say it’s snooty, others call it attentive. MIRABELLE 23 22 20 �47 ($70.50) 56 Curzon St., W1 (Green Park), 499-4636 “A big-city restaurant for grown-ups,” this glamorous Mayfair basement restaurant presents chef Marco Pierre White at his most accessible, thanks to well-executed Modern British/Classic French fare, an unbeatable (if expensive) wine list, and great staff. Some snipe at the “fussy” food and “irritating” two-sittings policy at night, but many others cite it for genuine value for the money. LE GAVROCHE 27 22 26 �63 ($94.50) 43 Upper Brook St., W1 (Marble Arch), 408-0881 For an old-fashioned case of French spoiling, this Mayfair basement restaurant can’t be beat. (“But don’t go for the ambience,” critics warn.) The Classic French cuisine from Michel Roux is backed up by a superb wine list, an impressive cheese board, and first-rate service. LA TANTE 26 21 24 �61 ($91.50) Berkeley Hotel, Wilton Place, SW1 (Knightsbridge), 823-2003 Reactions to the move of this extremely civilized Classic French restaurant from Chelsea to a wing of the Berkeley Hotel are mixed. Critics find it more impersonal, less magical. Admirers insist that it remains one of the best, thanks to chef Pierre Koffmann’s exquisite cooking. GORDON RAMSAY 27 21 25 �64 ($96) 68 Royal Hospital Rd., SW3 (Sloane Square), 352-4441 This is the showcase for celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s breathtaking New French cuisine. While some don’t seem to understand what all the fuss is about, citing “overelaborate” cooking at “second-mortgage” prices, a seat here is one of the hottest culinary tickets in London.

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