Jean-Philippe Patruno Fino
Born in Marseilles, 35-year-old Patruno has come into his own here, at what Londoners deem the Spanish restaurant in the city. Diners are quick to call Fino a tapas bar, but both the food and the atmosphere defy such categorization. "It's more like a reasonably priced degustation menu with small portions to share," Patruno explains. The Soho digs include a laid-back dining room and a library-like bar area where both club chairs and walls are swathed in brown leather.
Perfect Meal Pulpo a la Gallega (a tender carpaccio of boiled octopus); arroz negro (rice with squid ink); clams with sherry and ham; creamy caramel flan.
33 Charlotte St.; 44-20/7813-8010; dinner for two $1200.
Theo Randall Theo Randall at the InterContinental
While Rose Gray and Ruth Rodgers of London's River Café were making a name for themselves with a restaurant and cookbooks, their partner Theo Randall was happiest running the kitchen. At last, he's the star of the show, with this minimalist, 160-seat restaurant at the InterContinental, in Mayfair. The 38-year-old chef still has a decidedly Italian style: each day the pasta is made by hand, and vegetables arrive from Milan and Verona weekly. But what distinguishes him from Gray and Rodgers is his broad use of regional English produce, such as native porcini, partridge, and grouse.
Perfect Meal Taglialini with brown shrimp and zucchini; char-grilled veal chop; lemon tart with a sweet pastry crust.
1 Hamilton Place; 44-20/7318-8747; dinner for two $140.