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CHOW TIME: In these challenged times, Londoners have turned to low-glitz restaurants. Tierra Brindisa, the Soho outpost of the well-known South London restaurant Tapas Brindisa, opened last month, offering delicacies like carpaccio of cod with orange, red onion and marjoram salad, battered hake with allioi and chorizo with piquillo pepper on country toast. The nearby Giaconda Dining Room on Denmark Street — known as Tin Pan Alley, thanks to its music shops — has earned Australian chef-owner Paul Merrony rave reviews. The menu focuses on simple, hearty dishes like steak tartare with toast and chips, penne with pork sausage and roast chicken. But there are plenty of new spots at the more rarefied end of the dining scale: Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant group opened Murano in Mayfair this year, headed by chef Angela Hartnett. The restaurant offers dishes like cromer crab with squid ink tagliolini and John Dory with Parma ham tortellini. The restaurant’s decor lives up to its name, with chic chandeliers made from strips of metal set with blown glass.
WHAT’S IN STORE: Aside from glittering flagships on Bond Street and department stores Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, visitors flock to London for its eclectic markets. Spitalfields market in East London showcases up-and-coming designers, while nearby Brick Lane is lined with vintage shops. Gray’s Antique Market, across town near Bond Street, offers Victorian jet jewelry and Sixties Dior dresses, while Alfie’s Antique Market in Marylebone is a must-see for furniture. Many labels have borrowed the market model for their new stores — Rei Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market carries clothing, perfume and jewelry alongside vintage books and gardening tools. Designers including Rick Owens, Wunderkind, Balenciaga and Christian Louboutin are among the openings bringing cutting edge glamour to the 19th century buildings on Mount Street in Mayfair.