London’s best-value set menus offer meals — ambitious ones, not the sort of thing easily whipped up at home — to soothe the soul, placate menu-induced anxiety and keep the bank resolutely unbroken, with two or three always superb courses for under £25. Eat, drink and be frugally merry.Read More
11 Excellent (Value) Set Menus in London Right Now
Where to eat fantastic food for £25 or less
1. Yashin Sushi
In the evenings this Kensington legend’s exquisite sushi is out of reach of all but the highest rollers, but at lunchtime things are much more democratic. There’s five pieces of sushi and a sushi roll, a beautifully composed salad and miso soup on offer at prices not far off Yo’s — choose from salmon (£16), tuna (£18) or yellowtail (£20). Say no to soy sauce — the chefs prefer diners to abstain so the flavours can shine through.
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2. Hereford Road Restaurant
At two courses for £13.50 or three for £15.50, the set lunch menu at this former Victorian butcher is eye-poppingly good value. It’s fairly but not exclusively meaty, with shades of St. John: start with beetroot, watercress and boiled egg, follow it with guinea fowl and fried new potatoes, and finish up with rice pudding or custard tart. Get it from Thursday to Saturday.
3. Cafe Murano St. James
With its Mad Men-goes-to-Milan vibe, Cafe Murano is great for dazzling a date, or indeed a visiting parent; no scary ferments here. The two-for-£19 or three-for-£22 daily menu, which focuses on a different region each month (currently the vibe is Sardinian), is available from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Pick a starter and main or a main and dessert: cavatelli with tomato and olive followed by seafood fregola, maybe, or a lamb stew followed by honey pannacotta.
4. BAO Fitzrovia
Fitzrovia’s Bao 15 menu’s concept is simple but sensational: a bao — including the Fitz-only cod in a black bun — a Taiwanese fried chicken chop; and a pork loin and soy egg or mapo aubergine rice bowl from 12pm to 3pm, Monday to Friday. Adding beer or wine for £3 still brings this in comfortably under £20 a head.
Not really a menu, but excellent nonetheless. For the price of a soul-sapping salad, smoothie and bag of crisps from Pret, weekday worker-bees in the vicinity of Dean Street can sit down to a daily special (smoked haddock, potato, watercress and a soft egg; Sardinian gnocchi…), plus a glass of wine or non-alcoholic fruit shrub for just £10. Quacking stuff.
6. Noble Rot Wine Bar & Restaurant
The platonic ideal of a prix fixe at two courses for £18 or three for £22. In keeping with the ‘haven’t we suffered enough?’ mood of the nation, there are no calorie-conscious trifectas paying homage to cuisine minceur at this Bloomsbury haven, as in previous years. Instead find assemblages that reflect the seasons: broodingly autumnal venison mince with mash and hispi, followed by the purple whack of damson alongside a rice pudding. If in the mood for a minor splurge, add on that wine pairing. It would probably be rude not to.
Skye Gyngell’s £25 ‘scratch’ deal — three plates created entirely from scraps and offcuts — has had a lot of press, and deservedly so: none of the a la carte menu’s style or substance has been sacrificed in the name of the no-waste concept. Par for the course are dishes like fried gnudi with gruyere, pickled leeks and carrots; crab bisque with monkfish, celeriac and puntarelle; and meringue with mango ice cream. It’s only available from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., but it’s worth the faff.
8. The Quality Chop House
London’s greatest lunch-to-go, the joyfully jaw-busting egg mayo sandwich, can be found in the Quality Chop Shop’s counter. For something a little longer-lasting, take a seat next door and tuck into three courses of trencherman’s fare for £25 — think game, pistachio and prune terrine with cornichons, the internet-breaking Belted Galloway mince on dripping toast, and chocolate mousse with olive oil.
This £20, three-course deal is only available on Sundays — and with so-so gastropub roasts often coming in at twice the price once drinks and something sweet are factored in, there’s really no contest. Mediterranean-inflected and seasonally appropriate is the drill here: the meal might start with hispi cabbage, ham butter and breadcrumbs, move on to spaghetti al’amatriciana, and end with a slice of their much-loved almond cake and custard.
Levan’s set lunch menu comes in at just £16 for two courses, or £19 for three. There’s no corner-cutting here: expect the likes of burrata, carrot, clementine, vadouvan spices, pistachio; monkfish, January King cabbage, Cornish potatoes and lardo; and canelé with bacon caramel and milk ice cream. Or, for a champion’s lunch for under a tenner, order a whole croque monsieur topped with a fried egg.
11. Bar Douro City
Yep, £14 — that really is the price of a three-course feast at this feted Portuguese joint’s City location on Finsbury Square. Running from Monday to Friday, it’s a fairly no-frills affair but leaves no box unticked. Start with a snack — salt cod fritters, punchy smoked Portuguese sausage or crispy polenta — follow it up with bife in mustard sauce, and round things off with a perfect pastel de nata.