This article originally appeared on LondonLovesBusiness.com on 12/02/12
Think you can’t afford Michelin-starred dining this month? Think again – here are the hottest deals in London
It’s February and freezing, you’re fat and broke. This, dear readers, is all the more reason NOT to reach for the Hobnobs but reach for the phone instead and book yourself into one of these Michelin-starred restaurants.
Trust us, you can afford it. And it’s much better for the soul than Hobnobs (even the dark chocolate ones).
1. St John Bar and Restaurant
If you need cheering up, this is the place to go. Here, you can eat Fergus Henderson’s revolutionary food without even stepping into the restaurant. Simply pop into the adjacent bar and order something as simple – and as delicious – as Welsh rarebit (£5.20) or brown shrimp and white cabbage (£7.40). The cool, unstuffy, back to basics décor and ambience will immediately put you at ease and, if you’re lucky, Fergus himself might be propping up the bar.
2. Kitchen W8
This Kensington eatery is stylish and, above all, great value. The set lunch menu offers two courses for £17.50 and three courses for £19.50. If it’s dinner you’re after, the deal is pretty good here too: Kitchen W8 offers a set three course dinner menu for £24.50. Yes, you read that correctly – £24.50. Cheaper, no doubt, than your local takeaway.
3. Arbutus & Wild Honey
AA Gill once described his meal at Arbutus as “pretty damn perfect”. Now if that’s not reason enough to get you down there I don’t know what is. Actually, I do: the pre-theatre menu at £18.95. You’ve got to eat early (last bookings are at 6.15pm) but at that price you can stretch to a couple of drinks afterwards anyway. Arbutus’ sister restaurant (also Michelin-starred) Wild Honey is another pre-theatre bargain with a fixed price three course menu at £22.95.
4. The Harwood Arms
Forget all the gastro nonsense, this is the only pub to be awarded a Michelin star in London. So if it’s a cosy pub atmosphere you’re after, or if you fancy doing the Tuesday night pub quiz, head down to the Harwood Arms for proper pub grub that tastes wonderful. We can’t guarantee you’ll do well in the quiz though.
No two ways about it, with its low lighting and prime Soho address, this dim sum house looks expensive – but it needn’t be. Between 3pm and 6.30pm, from Monday to Friday, Yauatcha offers dim sum lovers a taster menu of eight dishes including scallop shul mal, baked venison puff and crystal dumpling wrap, all for £28 for two. If you go Dutch, that’s £14 per person – bargain.
6. River Café
The ultra-famous River Café (where Jamie Oliver cut his teeth before going on to global domination) offers diners a three course menu plus dessert (so four courses) for £39. Surrounded by the restaurant’s beautiful garden, here you can pretend you’re not in smelly old London and shake off your SAD sydrome.
7. Viajante and Corner room
We’ve cheated a little bit here. Nuno Mendes’ Viajante in Bethnal Green offers a 12 course menu – yes that’s 12 courses – for £90, which at £7.50 a dish is pretty darn good, and it’s one of our editor’s favourite places to eat (read her review of Viajante). But if that’s more cash than you fancy splashing, try Corner Room, just upstairs and low-key sister restaurant to Viajante. It hasn’t been Michelin-starred but gives you the chance to eat Mendes’ food for half the price. (Read our review of Corner Room).
8. L’Autre Pied
The sister restaurant to the two-Michelin-starred Pied à Terre in Bloomsbury, L’Autre Pied offers a pre-theatre menu for £22.50. Current dishes available include haunch of Sika Deer and risotto of butternut squash and scallops. Need we say more?
9. Rasoi & Tamarind
It’s another double whammy – we’re far too good to you, I swear. Chelsea-based Indian restaurant Rasoi offers diners a three course meal with matching wines for £50. As for Tamarind over in Mayfair, it’s offering a two-for-one set Sunday lunch menu for tables of up to eight people. Take the in-laws (they need never know about the deal).
Become uber-trendy, eat like a king and save yourself some cash by heading down to Sketch. For the uninitiated among you, this establishment just off Oxford Street comprises of two dining rooms and a bar. While it’s the Lecture Room & Library dining room that’s won the Michelin star, the bar serves up seriously gourmet snacks all day (mini Toulouse hotdog £3, fois gras £4, fillet of venison £4). It’s the same kitchen and same chefs. Perfect for a first date.