The British food scene might be a joke around the world, but now the UK is laughing because London, and indeed the whole UK, is glittering with Michelin stars. This also means, however, that good food can attract a hefty price tag. If you’re in the capital to see a West End show and looking for a pre-show dinner, or are enjoying the sights on a London break, a fancy restaurant may be beyond your price-range.
But you don’t always have to sacrifice taste when you opt for cheaper meals. We explore the UK capital to find the best-kept eatery secrets so that you can enjoy fine food at backpacker prices.
1. Gordon Ramsay’s Foxtrot Oscar
Foxtrot Oscar has the attraction of not only being in fashionable Chelsea (ideal for a day exploring Museum Corner), but also of boasting a Daily Offers Menu of two courses for £15 (three for £20) available until 7pm.
Location: 79 Royal Hospital Road, SW3.
Located in Soho, a short walk from Theatreland, Koya is THE place for noodles in the West End. Forget those sanitized chain noodle bars, and enjoy the somewhat chaotic ambience of Koya. The menu features plenty of noodle dishes (£7 – £14) and Japanese favourites like Prawn Tempura (£10).
Location: 49 Frith Street, WD1.
3. The Secret Larder
If you are able to book in advance and your trip to London coincides with one of their events, the Secret Larder is a very affordable option. One of many supper clubs that are bang on-trend, The Secret Larder serves up a delicious well-constructed four-course menu plus welcome cocktail, coffee and homemade truffles for the princely sum of £30.
Location: 21a Ezra Street, E2. Every Thursday and adults only.
4. Yalla Yalla
Tucked away in one of Soho’s myriad tiny alleys, Yalla Yalla offers both a dine-in and takeaway service. The latter is ideal if you’re with the kids and they have a penchant for spicy and flavoursome food, as the menu is decidedly Lebanese. Their Sawda Djej features in Time Out’s Best 100 dishes of 2012.
Location: 1 Green’s Court, W1F.
5. Sticky Fingers
Owned by Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, Sticky Fingers is a very family-friendly burger restaurant. The best day to go is Monday; the menu is as every other day of the week, but burger prices are slashed by 50% and all other options have discounts ranging from 20% to 40%.
Location: 1a Phillimore Gardens, W8.
One of the Jamie Oliver stable, Fifteen is a project to help unemployed youngsters into a food career. While a tasting menu can set you back £60, at weekday lunchtimes there is a special dish, changed daily, added to the standard menu as a ‘Winter Warmer’ for just £5. It’s a chance to enjoy Oliver-style at a bargain price.
Location: 15 Westland Place, N1.
7. Smollensky’s Bar and Grill
If you’ve got kids under seven, Smollensky’s is the ideal way to introduce them to the restaurant experience. They are greeted with a goodie bag to keep them occupied, and the kids’ menu is appealing and budget-friendly (£4 for burger and fries). Mum and Dad can enjoy a two-course menu for £12, available seven days a week.
Location: 105 The Strand, WC2R.
8. Belgo Central
Ideally located in the heart of the West End in Covent Garden, Belgo brings simple but classic Belgian style to the capital. It’s best just to turn up because the excellent offers vary, but recent discounts have included ‘Kids Eat Free’ when accompanied by two paying adults. There’s also their fun ‘Beat the Clock Menu’.
Location: 50 Earlham Street, WC2H.
These suggestions were brought to you by courtesy of Show & Stay, the provider of cheap London theatre breaks.