Nice places to eat in London
Foliage: The Mandarin Oriental hotel’s subtly designed dining room lends itself to serious negotiation of any sort, with tables placed far enough apart to guarantee privacy. The food, devised by a French-trained Welshman, is sophisticated and arguably defines the modern European idiom. A magnificent wine list will busy the oenophiles in your party. 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X; 020 7235 2000. Open for lunch Monday-Friday noon-2:30 p.m.; dinner Monday-Saturday, 7-10:30 p.m.
Neat: Two large rooms, under the deft direction of chef Richard Neat, are separated by an elegant private dining area. The restaurant serves sultry haute cuisine in hushed surroundings, while the livelier brasserie dishes up French favorites with a twist. The entire space offers postcard views of the Thames and sigh-provoking food. Eatery has a sister restaurant in Cannes. 2nd floor, Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, London SE1; 020 7928 5533; brasserie, 0207 928 443
Noble Rot: Textured, sensual, intensely flavored modern European dishes with a Mediterranean slant are presented against a backdrop of cool sage walls and cozy banquettes. The dining room is intimate and the acoustics excellent — you can hear your companions even when the room is abuzz. Great selection of fish, shellfish and caviar. 3-5 Mill St., London W1S; 020 7629 8877. Open for lunch and dinner noon-3 p.m. and 6-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Bar open until 3 a.m.
Opium: Soho basement bar/club/restaurant featuring live cabaret and deejayed music. It’s loud, and the French-Vietnamese food stumbles from acceptable to so-so, but the den-of-iniquity atmosphere is amusing and the bartender has a way with melon martinis. Best to sit in the bar where you can concentrate on drinks and appetizers. 1A Dean St., London W1D; 020 7287 9608. Open Monday-Friday 4 p.m.-3:30 a.m.; Saturday 7:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m.
River Cafe: This icon of delicious rustic Italian cuisine continues to be wildly popular, but a bit difficult to book unless you plan ahead. Organic meats and the best available ingredients are givens in this kitchen, which specializes in wood-grilled dishes. Carbo-loaders should not miss the house-made pastas or fragrant, tender risotto. Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6; 020 7386 4200. Open for lunch Monday-Sunday 12:30-3:00 p.m.; dinner Monday-Saturday 7-11:30 p.m.