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London: Mayfair and St. James's

Dover sole, wine and a men's spa


St. James's

A Queen's Treasure House
Replacing its tatty predecessor, the new Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace is an exceptional showcase for the country's greatest public collection, held in trust by the queen. While the entrance hall, with its faux-marble columns and gilded doodads, smacks a bit of Vegas, the exhibition spaces, taking their cues from John Nash's Regency remodeling of the palace, work very well indeed. On view until January 12, Royal Treasures: A Golden Jubilee Celebration defies hyperbole: paintings by Duccio, Rembrandt, Vermeer; drawings by Raphael, Leonardo, Michelangelo; illuminated manuscripts, jewels. . . . It ends with Lucian Freud's controversial portrait of the anniversary girl. Call 7321-2233.

—Martin Filler

Finishing Touches
Budd, a pocket-sized Edwardian shop in Piccadilly Arcade, is the place for superb evening and formal accouterments. In addition to perfect moiré bow ties and cummerbunds, fine silk and voile evening shirts with attached or detachable collars, Budd carries the best evening gloves (each with a pearl- or horn-button closure at the wrist) in white capeskin and dove-gray suede ($100) and impossible-to-find real chamois ($115). The lightweight voile formal shirt in white, cream, blue, pink, or lavender is a creation of rare beauty ($175). At 1a and 3 Piccadilly Arcade; 7493-0139.

—G. Bruce Boyer

Fay Maschler Recommends: Finding a Good Dover Sole ...
Twenty ways with this nice, plain English ingredient was a feature of Wheeler's fish restaurants, which had their heyday in the 1960s. This summer Marco Pierre White carried out a clever restructuring of both the historic formula and the cozy premises—about 40 seats over three floors—at Wheeler's in St. James's (12a Duke of York St.; 7930-2460; $150), where a fine, straightforward grilled Dover sole on the bone is served with a sublime potato purée. • At Brasserie Roux in the former banking hall of Cox & Kings (8 Pall Mall; 7968-2900; $110), Albert Roux, one of two brothers who brought classic French cooking to London and trained a generation of chefs, offers French bourgeois dishes like whole pan-fried Dover sole with beurre noisette and a poached fillet with Nantua sauce.

... Or Perhaps a Grouse?
Wiltons (55 Jermyn St.; 7629-9955; $170), restaurateur to the gentry, is a bastion of superbly cooked game and fish. Now that much of The Connaught's former kitchen staff has migrated here along with chef Jerome Ponchelle, some of the Anglo-French classics for which the hotel dining room was known (pork, duck, and foie gras terrine; wild Scottish turbot with lobster and Champagne sauce; baked Dover sole Silver Jubilee) have broadened the menu. • Rules (35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden; 7836-5314; $130)—London's oldest restaurant, established in 1798—draws on its own estate in the north for game birds and serves them properly garnished in plush Edwardian surroundings.

—Fay Maschler

Tea at The Ritz
Showing up without reservations and in jogging gear just isn't done. But it's worth the effort to book six weeks ahead and appease the dress-code enforcers at the door, because the afternoon ritual here is a satisfyingly elegant affair. The Palm Court, with its marble columns and ornate chandeliers, is a grand, refined setting (as opposed to the room decor upstairs, which seems channeled from Barbara Cartland with fussy florals, pastels, and too much gilded white furniture). The menu is a cut above what you'll find elsewhere: sandwiches of poached salmon or roast beef with horseradish along with the usual cucumber and egg, plus perfect pastries and scones. And the harpist is sublime even when playing "Happy Birthday," as she does several times a day. Since The Palm Court is elevated at the center of the lobby, prepare to be stared at. (For a superlative tea minus the pomp and surveillance, try the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park's.) Tea for two, $85. At 150 Piccadilly; 877-748-9536, 7493-8181; fax 7493-2687; www.theritzlondon.com.

—Laurie Werner

Bags and Baggage
Tanner Krolle, maker of fine luggage since 1856, is renowned for the understated elegance of its English bridle-leather hard suitcases and attachés. Called lid-over-body boxes, they have a metal frame and are lined in leather as well. With care and the restoration services of the firm's meticulous craftsmen, many a case has been known to outlive its original owner. The bespoke service is beyond craftsmanship; it is artistry. All designs and materials are unique, as is the price (a suitcase 26 by 15 by 7 inches: $3,530). Newest designs: striking bags for ladies, computer cases, and grooming kits. At 38 Old Bond St.; 7491-2243.

—G. B. B.

Gainsborough to the Max
The largest show ever on England's beloved Thomas Gainsborough—156 works—opens at Tate Britain October 24 (through January 19). Alongside masterpieces like Mr. and Mrs. Andrews and William Wollaston is an unusual discovery from a private collection: a self-portrait at about age 13, in which Gainsborough depicts himself as an apprentice, proudly displaying his palette and brush—he knew even then. Millbank, Westminster; 7887-8008.

—Martin Bailey

A Very Good Smoke
Preferred purveyor of fine cigars to the great and good since 1787, J.J. Fox is like the Pall Mall gentlemen's clubs it supplies: oak-paneled, old-fashioned, with an impeccably mannered staff. The range of Havanas here is as good as it gets—18 marques in 400 sizes and shapes (boxes of Tom Cruise's favorites are held on reserve in the humidified vaults below). In leather armchairs at the back of the shop, customers from cabdrivers to politicos gossip over a smoke; a little museum has memorabilia from aficionados like Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde. At 19 St. James's St.; 7930-3787.

—Sophy Roberts

Old-School Haberdashers
New & Lingwood was founded in 1865 as clothier to the scholars of Eton, and it continues to provide Etonians old and new with essentials like school ties, cuff links, heraldic shields, and hosiery. For the rest of us, this superb shop is chock-a-block with Thurston felt braces ($75), wool-and-cashmere dressing gowns, fine cotton poplin pajamas, and hand-rolled Irish linen handkerchiefs. Durable and handsome midwale-corduroy country trousers in earthy colors have the traditional tapered leg and unique zip side adjusters at the waist ($130). At 53 Jermyn St.; 7493-9621.

—G. B. B.

A Cozy Carriage House
At The Stafford hotel's Carriage House, an 18th-century former stable tucked away in a cobbled mews, it's hard to believe you're just steps from busy St. James's Street and Piccadilly. The best room is the bilevel Guv'nor's Suite, with plush but homey touches like overstuffed couches, a Persian carpet, and landscapes in antique gold frames. If the weather cooperates, you can sit in the courtyard of the American Bar, long a watering hole for expat journalists and decorated with their pictures and mementos. Carriage House rooms, $570-$1,145. St. James's Pl.; 800-525-4800, 7493-0111; fax 7493-7121; www.thestaffordhotel.co.uk.

—L. W.

Dukes Hotel
Though still a model of the clubby English experience—floral fabrics galore in cozy rooms; a proper, nonflashy tea service; a menu of boarding-school staples like Welsh rarebit with ploughman's pickle—Dukes has lost a bit of its starch. Where once it really did feel like a club for men only, it's now much more welcoming. And there are unexpected departures from tradition, like the mango ice cream (mango!) that was delivered to the room at midnight on a recent visit. Top suites like The Duke of Clarence ($855), with views over Clarence House, are the best insurance against too-tight rooms, but be warned: They're all on the side where a building is under construction, so they're likely to be noisy through the fall. Rooms, $350-$855. At 35 St. James's Pl.; 800-381-4702, 7491-4840; fax 7493-1264; www.dukeshotel.com.

—L. W.


St. James's | Mayfair

Bespoke Links
At Longmire, you can have your bespoke cuff links emblazoned with your initials, of course, in virtually any style, or your company logo, ancestral crest, favorite sporting symbol, club or professional emblem. One of the most popular requests is for portraits of the family pet—all Longmire needs is a photo, and in eight to 12 weeks you can have the head of your favorite Bichon Frise or Border collie hand-enameled on 18-karat gold (on cuff links, from $3,840; on a lapel pin, from $2,995). At 12 Bury St.; 7930-8720.

—G. B. B.

At Burlington Arcade
At the entrance to tony Burlington Arcade, a covered street of mahogany-fronted shops dating from 1819, is the men's store of N. Peal (no. 71; 7493-0912), the first name in classic British cashmere knitwear. Most popular design this season: a three-ply cableknit cricket sweater in pale blue, mint green, or natural with contrasting trim at the V-neck ($650). The women's line is at no. 37 (7493-5378), with indulgences like front-tie knit wraps in cashmere ($405). • Pickett (nos. 41 and 32-33; 7493-8939) is stocked floor to ceiling with luxury leather goods, but what makes it an annual pilgrimage for the Bond Street crowd is the wall of drawers overflowing with gloves: in the finest leather, lined in cashmere, silk, or sheepskin, in colors to match every shoe in your closet ($60-$240). • Designer Georgina von Etzdorf (nos. 1-2; 7409-7789) has been expanding into frocks and separates over the past 21 years, but scarves ($45-$700) are synonymous with the label. At her jewel-box boutique, wrap yourself up in one in richly patterned velvet or devoré silk.

—G. B. B. and Erika Lederman

Fay Maschler Recommends: Embassy
Chef Garry Hollihead came to Embassy last year with a reputation for intricate cooking and difficult behavior. His espousal here of well-mannered Escoffier classics like langoustines Thermidor, sole Dieppoise, and crêpes suzette seems to have taken the fretfulness out of both. The clientele who come for dinner before moving on to the music club in the basement (see "Grand Nights") add a raffish touch to the cream-and-gold restaurant, said to be inspired by 1920s Vienna. The result: an interesting and opulent dining experience. Dinner, $140. At 29 Old Burlington St.; 7437-9933; fax 7734-3224

—F. M.

One Woman's Opinion: "Seeing friends in London is always fun, but what's happened to the city since the Second World War is so sad. They've pulled down beautiful buildings. Park Lane used to be just houses with low-front windows, and the scale was very human. Now you've got skyscrapers. And there's such traffic, such difficulty moving around."
—DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE

Immortal Longings
If the desire to be immortalized in oil like the ancestors hanging in all those stately homes should strike, consult the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. At this venerable institution, founded in 1891, all it takes is approximately eight sittings, six months, and $5,375 to $92,160, and you can be rendered in pastel, oil, pencil, or watercolor by any of 41 of Britain's best portrait artists. Among them: Michael Noakes (choice of Margaret Thatcher and Bill Clinton) and Antony Williams (whose famous portrait of the queen gave her the puffy hands of a 90-year-old). To study their styles, ask Catherine Retter for a catalogue of artists. At 17 Carlton House Terr.; 7930-6844; www.mallgalleries.org.uk.

—S. R.


Mayfair

Fay Maschler Recommends: Next from Nico: Deca
Paul Rhodes was head chef at Nico Ladenis' Chez Nico at Grosvenor House when it held three Michelin stars. This summer he moved to Deca, a new brasserie-style restaurant from the redoubtable Nico—his second since he handed back the stars in order to focus on "the way we eat now" (and his tenth London opening, thus "Deca"). Here, in an elegant terrace house off Bond Street, the services of a gifted haute-cuisine chef come without the three-star price. In David Collins' latest design, leather chairs and crackled mirrors furnish the ground floor and the light and airy upstairs, where tall windows look out on the pink neon sign of a Vivienne Westwood shop. Rhodes' immersion in the classics is seen in a sublime chicken-liver mousse, perfect risottos, and a combative breast of duck with honey and peppercorns. The mission to simplify results in dishes like veal kidneys in mustard sauce. Dinner, $125. At 23 Conduit St.; 7493-7070; fax 7493-7090.

—F. M.

Dorchester Update
A fixture on Park Lane since 1931, The Dorchester just went through a $15 million renovation to refresh the country-house decor and bring the technology into the 21st century (TVs that receive and display e-mail, function as word processors, play CDs, and tune in the radio station back home). But my favorite part of the hotel isn't new. The two-bedroom suite created by stage designer Oliver Messel in 1953 and now restored by his nephew, the Earl of Snowdon, is indeed theatrical, with a blue-tented ceiling, a canary-yellow bedroom, models of Messel's stage sets, and its own roof garden. Rooms, $515-$3,310 (Messel Suite). Park Lane; 800-223-6800, 7629-8888; fax 7409-0114; www.dorchesterhotel.com.

—L. W.

Wining and Dining
Q. I'M A WINE NUT. WHERE CAN I FIND A GREAT SELECTION BY THE GLASS—AND A GREAT SOMMELIER TO GUIDE ME THROUGH THE LIST?
A. Restaurant 1837 at Raffles Brown's Hotel (Albemarle St.; 7493-6020; $140) offers not only quintessentially English hotel dining but also 1,200 wines—one of the broadest ranges in the country. France is, of course, strongly represented, but there are well-chosen wines from good producers around the globe. What's more, 300 wines are available by the glass. The wine waiters know the list inside out and can help you discover what you didn't even realize you wanted.

—Guy Dimond

The Royal Academy of Art hosts Aztecs, a spectacular exhibition on the pre-Columbian civilization with more than 350 objects, mainly from Mexican museums, November 16 through April 11. This will be the most comprehensive show on the Aztecs ever mounted, and London is the only venue. Treasures include a lifesize terra-cotta figure of the Lord of Death, seen outside Mexico for the first time. Piccadilly; 7300-8000.

—M. B.

Boss Tweeds
London's two great gunmakers both carry top-quality hunting kit and tweed jackets enough to outfit as many shooting parties as there are shooting boxes in Scotland. Particularly good at James Purdey & Sons (57-58 S. Audley St.; 7499-1801) are the colorful tattersall shirts in fine cotton twill or cotton-wool blends with spread collar and button cuff ($115); and new waistcoats in any of five tweeds exclusive to Purdey, with satin back and contrasting lining ($245). • Holland & Holland (31-33 Bruton St.; 7499-4411) can custom-tailor a loden cape and provide stout boots, khaki cotton safari jacket, and hand-knit Shetland-wool stockings. The superb Molland shooting jacket is in 100 percent thornproof, waterproof tweed, with cartridge and game pockets, suede-lined cuffs, and loden collar ($2,370).

—G. B. B.

Old Labels Get Hip
Stalwart British labels have re-created themselves for the new millennium with infusions of fresh design talent. While the famous plaid at Burberry (21-23 New Bond St.; 7839-5222) has grown a bit tired, design director Christopher Bailey is relying less on The Pattern and coming up with inspirational items like an ivory cashmere coat with pretty topstiching ($2,490) and a classic mac in crisp gabardine with the check on the inside ($985). • Pringle of Scotland (112 New Bond St.; 7647-8500) has long meant argyle golf sweaters and gifts for granddad, but with its new flagship store and an ad campaign featuring nude models, celebrities like Madonna have decided the new-look pastel cashmere sweaters ($385) are must-haves. • At Jaeger (200-206 Regent St.; 7200-4000), Bella Freud's designs—like the military-style khaki ribbed-knit sweaters with insignia detailing from this season's rock-and-roll-inspired collection ($215)—have helped shake off any traces of old-fashioned. • And Mulberry (41-42 New Bond St.; 7491-3900), known for sumptuous leather goods, is attracting a younger crowd with an idiosyncratic take on classics as interpreted by hip young designer-director Nicholas Knightly.

—E. L.

Change Comes to Claridge's
There have been gripes from traditionalists about the recent renovation at Claridge's by designer Thierry Despont, but we can't find much to complain about. We especially like the gleaming Foyer, setting for afternoon tea (though reviews are mixed on the Dale Chihuly blown-glass chandelier that looks like a mass of silvery-white snakes), and the handsome redo of the aubergine cigar bar and the Art Deco restaurant (taken over last year by Gordon Ramsay, and now with a three-month waiting list). In these rooms, and in Deco-inspired suites like the Brook penthouse, you feel the hotel's pedigree sprinkled with a bit of glamour. It's not hard to imagine the Duke of Windsor, among the roster of past guests, striding through the halls. Rooms, $575-$6,000. Brook St.; 800-637-2869, 7629-8860; fax 7499-2210; www.claridges.co.uk.

—L. W.

The Refinery
Whether this men's spa is so popular because it's a female-free zone or because its treatments are the best in town is difficult to discern. Certainly you can't count on walk-in service, despite the late hours Wednesday through Friday for the office-bound. Offerings include barbering (in semimotorized Japanese cutting chairs), body wraps ($90), and 20-minute "pit stop" treatments like minifacials ($30) and therapeutic massages. The lounge, with plasma-screen TV, is a haven—and an antidote to the kind of life the two investment bankers who launched the spa left behind. At 60 Brook St., Mayfair, 7409-2001; and 38 Bishopsgate, the City, 7588-1006; www.the-refinery.com.

—S. R.

A Royal Shave
Geo. F. Trumper has been barber to royals and commoners alike for 125 years. Aside from such services as wet shaves with hot towels, hair tinting, and head and face massages, the shop offers impeccable tools and accessories like shaving mugs and razors, badger-hair brushes, manicure sets, and chrome-plated toothbrushes. Trumper's colognes are available in 27 scents, from Ajaccio Violets to Spanish Leather. Glycerine-based shave creams come in bowls and travel-friendly tubes, shaving soaps in wooden bowls. At 9 Curzon St.; 7499-1850.

—G. B. B.

Room With a View
No. 1016, the 1,230-square-foot penthouse of the cool, deadpan (but friendlier and more service-oriented than it used to be) Metropolitan hotel. White, modern, and minimalist, it is a noncompetitive backdrop to the view through two walls of windows: Park Lane, the lawns and treetops of Hyde Park, and the Belgravia and Knightsbridge skyline. Plus room service from Nobu downstairs. Penthouse, $3,100. Old Park Lane; 7447-1000; fax 7447-1100; www.metropolitan.co.uk.

—L. W.

Jewel Boxes
ASPREY AND GARRARD have decided to reclaim their individual identities by moving into different houses while remaining part of the same family. In September Garrard set up shop at 24 Albemarle Street and introduced a new line of cutting-edge jewelry created under the direction of Jade Jagger. Meanwhile, Asprey is renovating its flagship store at 167 New Bond Street. Architect Norman Foster and designer David Mlinaric are overseeing the transformation of the 20,000-square-foot space, slated to open its doors late next year. Information: Asprey, 7493-6767; Garrard, 7758-8520.

Down the block, at 45-50 Old Bond Street, DE BEERS will debut its flagship store in November. Perhaps to counteract the air of aloofness associated with the company, architects Antonio Citterio and Partners have created a customer-friendly atmosphere with lots of open space, a lounge, and display counters with 360-degree access. Information: 7328-0555.

—Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Escape to Casablanca
Q. I WANT DINNER SOMEWHERE SEXY, A BIT (BUT NOT TOO) LOUCHE ...
A. Christened by Madonna, who held a birthday party here soon after it opened, Momo (25 Heddon St.; 7434-4040; $140) has an exotic Moroccan vibe, stunning French and Berber staff, and tagines and other classic dishes that can be excellent. The intimate Kemia Bar in the basement, though, with its world-music groove, is for members only.

—G. D.

Anthony Fry
The most underrated veteran English painter living today is Anthony Fry. His career path diverged from those of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and R. B. Kitaj in the early '60s, when he spent two years in the United States and was greatly influenced by the color-field work of Mark Rothko and Morris Louis. Since then Fry has made his candy-colored paintings and works on paper only in hot locales, spending many summers in Italy and Morocco and half the year—for the past 21 years—in India. His space- and light-filled visions have more to do with melancholy-tinged romantic atmosphere than with the existentialist terror or fleshly abjection of his eminent contemporaries. New works from India can be seen October 30-November 22 at Browse & Darby. At 19 Cork St.; 7734-7984.

—Andrew Long

Fay Maschler Recommends: The Square
Science is increasingly revered in the restaurant kitchen, and it's no coincidence that The Square's Philip Howard studied microbiology at university. There's an exciting precision to his "progressive" modern French cooking, and often its impact is in the details—surprises like a prune at the heart of a soufflé; a breadcrumbed, deep-fried duck's egg spilling over a salad of organic vegetables; spice-bread croutons in a crème brûlée. Howard might pair turbot with langoustines in a champagne beurre blanc, or sauté monkfish and artichokes with hand-rolled pasta, cauliflower purée, and black truffles. Lunch attracts locals from the art, auction, and fashion worlds to an understatedly elegant room with a wine list that expensive dreams are made of. Unlike most of London's best restaurants, The Square is open on Sunday evenings. Dinner, $170. At 6-10 Bruton St.; 7495-7100; fax 7495-7150.

—F. M.

Fay Maschler Recommends: Cecconi's
Once a legend as much for the prices as for the Venetian-inspired cooking, Cecconi's was reinvented last year with the help of designer David Collins and the inspiration of Giorgio Locatelli, original consulting chef. Tables and leather armchairs are placed to give maximum privacy, important when glamorous gossip is buzzing. Beef carpaccio is on the menu, along with delicate risottos, imaginative pastas, and main dishes that exhibit the Italian culinary virtues of simplicity and restraint. Dinner, $110. At 5a Burlington Gardens; 7434-1500; fax 7434-2440.

—F. M.

Grand Nights
Elegant Mayfair and St. James's are the locus for London's most opulent nightlife. Princess Diana used to take tea at Dukes Hotel (St. James's Pl.; 7491-4840), with its mahogany bar and sumptuous armchairs, but it's old-school legend for serving the world's finest martini. "I have never tasted anything so cool and clean," claimed Ernest Hemingway; "they made me feel civilized." • For the best gin and tonic, impeccably served in an Art Deco room with Lalique-glass panels, try the new Rivoli Bar at The Ritz (150 Piccadilly; 7493-8181). • Trendish mojitos are done with flair at Embassy (29 Old Burlington St.; 7437-9933), brimful of celebrities, but you need a dinner reservation to enjoy the lounge's snaking leather couchette. • The Stork Rooms (Swallow St.; 7734-3686), hangout for Richard Burton, Audrey Hepburn, and Frank Sinatra in the '50s, has been revived by über-chef Marco Pierre White and London's key nightlife impresario, Piers Adam. The leather banquettes come from the team at Connolly who fit out Aston Martins. • The staff is as slick and elegant as the interiors at 57 Jermyn Street (7495-5570), a ravishing members-only bar, nightclub, and restaurant hidden among the shirt shops (membership: $305). • When the hotel bars seem too elegantly restrained, there's Hush (8 Lancashire Ct.; 7659-1500), a chic restaurant in a cobbled courtyard off New Bond Street. Part-owned by Roger Moore's son and aimed at younger media and fashion types, it has four big, bright bars that start buzzing with the Champagne-and-cocktails after-work crowd—and stay that way.

—Simon Davis

Ruffling Feathers at the Connaught
This Upstairs, Downstairs icon is still a place of utter discretion, where you enter the wood-paneled lobby and disappear from the prying eyes of the world, but change is in the air. Designer Nina Campbell has freshened the main floor's drawing room and Red Room as well as the bedrooms (they needed it), but that's not what has regulars panicking. It's what's happening this fall in the restaurant: a new Mediterranean menu and the end of waiters in black tie and roasts on silver trolleys. That, and the new outdoor terrace serving California cuisine. Rooms, $590-$2,960. Carlos Pl.; 800-637-2869, 7499-7070; fax 7495-3262; www.savoygroup.com.

—L. W.

A Graceful Art
E. H. Shepard (1879-1976) is best known for illustrating A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh series, but he did nearly 100 other books as well in his long career and contributed to Punch for five decades. An exhibition of more than 150 Shepard drawings and watercolors is at The Fine Art Society from November 30 through December 21. At 148 New Bond St.; 7629-5116.

—A. L.

Fay Maschler Recommends: Le Gavroche
Nothing much changes at Le Gavroche because nothing really needs to. Michel Roux shows respect to the inspiration of his father, Albert (now at Brasserie Roux), who with brother Michel founded the restaurant in 1967. But a few lighter, modern dishes like red mullet with cockle risotto and poached lobster flavored with star anise have been added to the classic French menu. Maître d' Silvano Giraldin commands the best-marshaled troops of any London dining room. There is comfort in widely spaced tables, soft carpets, the clink of silver against porcelain. The set lunch at $60, including wine from a stupendous list, is the best bargain in town. Dinner, $245. At 43 Upper Brook St.; 7408-0881; fax 7491-4387.

—F. M.

Pass it On
One of London's best-kept secrets is the antiques department of the venerable decorating firm Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, famous for its English-country roots. In an 18th-century townhouse in the center of Mayfair, the firm's headquarters since 1947, seven rooms are devoted to selling antiques in the spirit of the founders. The 18th- and 19th-century English and French furniture is pretty, painted, and quirky rather than brown and highly polished. Don't miss the building's crown jewel: the breathtaking drawing room painted butter yellow as society decorator Nancy Lancaster (once Fowler's partner) had it when she lived there. Unlike in America, where the fabric is to the trade only, no credentials are needed, and all are welcome. At 39 Brook St.; 7493-2231.

—Anne Foxley

Fay Maschler Recommends: Mirabelle
A labyrinthine place, complete with an inviting bar and a courtyard garden, Mirabelle conveys a nice sense of drama through touches like revolving glitter balls and a lavish use of mirrors. Some may recognize the layout of Marco Pierre White's menu and wine list from Taillevent in Paris, but the content is classic Marco: a faintly British spin on French orthodoxy, as in the poulet noir, roast breast of chicken on a bed of leeks, fennel, carrots, and peas, served with braised baby cabbage and a beef-Madeira consommé. Dinner, $140. At 56 Curzon St.; 7499-4636; fax 7499-5449.

—F. M.

For the best cutthroat-razor wet shave in town, follow the lead of Guy Ritchie and Billy Bob Thornton and make an appointment with Fausto at Adams London (12 St. George St.; 7499-9779) for a 35-minute hot- and cold-towel extravaganza ($40).

—S. R.

Home Style
Sandwiched between Savile Row and New Bond Street is Nicole Farhi Home. Known for her easy-living, stylish weekend wear, designer Farhi creates vignettes mixing antique fashions currently in vogue with her own line of hand-thrown milky porcelain, mouth-blown transparent shaded glass, felted lambswool throws, bed linens, and more. Good examples of Venetian mirrors and pairs of French leather club chairs from the '30s can be had without taking the Eurostar to the Marché aux Puces. At 17 Clifford St.; 7494-9051.

—A. F.

Table Toppers
Thomas Goode has been making fine china since 1827. The 12-room boutique, in a redbrick Victorian building, displays all the world's best makers of china, crystal, and cutlery. Not your average tabletop shop, Goode celebrates the queen's Golden Jubilee with a limited-edition (100) 18-karat-gold, 167-piece flatware set stamped with Her Majesty's portrait, handcrafted by Carrs of Sheffield ($345,600). If the queen's portrait is not sufficient, there's room for a personal monogram. At 19 S. Audley St.; 7499-2823.

—A. F.

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