Best New Bargains
Chowki With Mela, Kuldeep Singh started a trend as the first of the "name" Indian chefs. Its ambitious sister offers delicious specialties from three regions every monthat supercheap prices (entrées average $10). The decor is modern, the chairs are comfy, and the location is dead central (23 Denman St., W1; 011-44-207-439-1330).
Menu The biggest buzz in town belongs to this "new" hotel restaurant, an overhaul of the Connaught's beloved but staid Anglo-French. Young genius and Gordon Ramsay alumna Angela Hartnett cooks inventive, punchy modern Italian food. The $33 three-course luncha showcase for dishes like the game mosaic, a terrine made with mostarda di fruttais such a deal. Five-star service included (Carlos Place, W1; 011-44-207-499-7070).
Mezedopolio Beside the Real Greek, in megahip, arty Hoxton, is the restaurant's offspring. It serves the same unusual dishes but in miniature (about $6 each): marinated caper leaves; lamb's liver sausage; tiropitakia (spinach phyllo pies). And Greek boutique wines as well (14 Hoxton Market, N1; 011-44-207-739-8212).
Racine Everyone's raving about famous-from-Fifth-Floor Henry Harris's trendily old-fashioned French bistro. Go for the bargain prix-fixe meal ($23 for two courses, $26 for three courses), served from noon till 7:30 p.m. (239 Brompton Rd., SW3; 011-44-207-584-4477).
Timo This fresh-faced Italian restaurant from the River Café school has a garden mural on its all-white walls, generous portions and lots of choice on its $32 or $40 (two- or three-course) all-day prix fixes: smoked tuna with caponata; pheasant ravioli; braised lamb shank (343 Kensington High St., W8; 011-44-207-603-3888).
The Providores and Tapa Room Peter Gordon has left the Sugar Club, but he's still turning out his insouciant New Zealand-London-Asian-Mediterranean food. Upstairs, prices are high; the street-level Tapa Room is cheaper and more funbut it doesn't serve tapas! The name refers to the ceremonial Kiwi cloth on the wall. The sweet-potato-smoked-paprika-feta tortilla is a lovely lunch (109 Marylebone High St., W1; 011-44-207-935-6175).
For a first-rate cheap meal, head to one of these quality chains. All of them have multiple locations; we've listed the ones that are newest or most central.
Carluccio's Caffé Antonio Carluccio is famous for his TV appearances and his wild-mushroom obsession. Now he has nine casual Italian places, where entrées average $10and where, from the wine list, a Piaggio Vespa goes for $2,640 (St. Christopher's Place, W1; 011-44-207-935-5927).
Pret a Manger The sandwich bar to end all sandwich bars. Pret's offerings are fresh and preservative-free. Now the chain is invading New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo (8 London Bridge St., SE1; 011-44-207-378-7992).
Tootsies Get some of London's best burgers, plus rare sightings of big salads, at any of the 10 branches (35 James St., W1; 011-44-207-486-1611).
Wagamama For its high standards, low prices and no-frills Asian noodles at communal tables, this place has become so popular that it's spawned 12 clones (10A Lexington St., W1; 011-44-207-292-0990).
Best Hotel Deal
Knightsbridge Hotel The elegant Firmdale Hotels, from husband-and-wife design team Tim and Kit Kemp, have long been choice, if pricey, London picks. For their newest property, they've cut the rates by about $100 and added breakfast. The Knightsbridge is gorgeous, friendly and comfortable, with cozy parlors, a huge honor bar and a locationsteps from Harrods in a quiet cul-de-sacthat can't be beat. The only sacrifice? Room service instead of a restaurant (doubles from $265; 10 Beaufort Gardens, SW3; 011-44-207-584-6300).