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A delicious way to explore Britain? Take a gastronomic tour of its Michelin-starred eateries.

If you're traveling to Britain, you'll find no shortage of world-class restaurants


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Stars, of the coveted Michelin kind, are shining over more restaurants in Britain than ever before, further proof of the number and quality of Britain's world-class restaurants.

A gastronomic tour of nearly 130 starred eateries includes London's toney Mayfair district, the Scottish Highlands, tucked-away English country towns and the valleys of Wales.

Older, more traditional restaurants share the Michelin list with newer places featuring innovative, adventurous cuisine.

Considered one of the more daring innovators is the Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, near Windsor, which acquired a third Michelin star this year, only eight years after opening.

Only a few hundred yards away is another three-star restaurant, Michel Roux's renowned and long-established Waterside Inn, which makes Bray the smallest community in Europe with two three-starred restaurants.

Britain's other three-star award is held for the third year by Gordon Ramsay's Chelsea restaurant in London.

Another hub of dining excellence is the medieval town of Ludlow, near England's border with Wales.

Here, Hibiscus restaurant gained a second Michelin star this year, while neighbors, the Merchant House and Mr. Underhill's at Dinnam Weir, each retained their one-star rating.

In London, three restaurants won their first star: the Menu and Grill at the Connaught Hotel; Petrus at the Berkeley Hotel; and Tom Aiken's restaurant in Chelsea. Other new one-star establishments include the Black Pig, in the village of Rock; Trouble House Inn in Tetbury; Longridge restaurant, Longridge; and Ballachulish House in the Scottish Highlands. For additional information, visit www.squaremeal.co.uk.

England's Lake District also has two one-starred restaurants, Sharrow Bay Country House, Ullswater, and Holbeck Ghyll, Windermere.

For additional information about the Cumbria and Lake District Food and Drink Festival, visit www. cumbriafoodfestival.net.

To help you with planning a vacation, two free brochures, "Invitation to Britain" and "Britain: Time to Travel" are available from VisitBritain's Travel Center, 551 Fifth Ave., Suite 701, (at 45th Street), in New York City.

To reach VisitBritain, e-mail travelinfo @visitbritain.org, call toll-free (877) 899-8391 or visit www.visit britain.com.

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