London’s pretty blessed with its fair share of Michelin starred restaurants. Chefs are reaching the upper echelons of celebrity, crafting impeccable dishes that have people queuing round the block, booking months in advance and furiously Instagramming. Whilst their tasting menus may be reserved for special occasions and splashing the cash, a lot of our favourite fancies offer affordable alternatives at lunch time - here’s part one of the best blowouts on a budget.
Jason Atherton’s been a busy man but his first solo venture, Pollen Street Social, is still going strong. Describing itself as ‘deformalised dining’, it earned its Michelin less than a year after opening and its set lunch menu is one of our favourites. British ingredients take to the fore in the seasonal menu which will leave you torn in temptation before you, naturally, spoil yourself with an after lunch cocktail at the beautifully polished bar.
All you can eat buffets, be gone! This is your chance to get your hands on some of London’s finest Indian food for a fraction of the price at Gymkhana. The decor here is something to be seen too, blink and you’ll be transported straight back to British Colonialism, ceiling fans and dark leather and all. Food-wise, there are some real gems on both the set lunch and ‘Taste of Gymkhana’ menus that will introduce you to a whole new world of flavours and dishes a far cry from your local Ruby.
What do you get when you combine one of London’s most loved hotels, Simon Rogan and a carefully cultivated farm in the Lake District? Fera at Claridge’s, naturally. With a focus on foraged produce (Fera means ‘wild’), this set lunch menu is as good as it looks. It’s difficult to predict what’ll be on offer as the menu changes as often as the weather but we have it on good authority that it’s as blindingly brilliant as the classic chandelier in the foyer.
With 2 stars under its belt, Marcus Wareing’s recently refurbed Marcus is still a firm favourite on the London scene. His ‘Taste of Summer’ menu brings you five courses and a dining experience that won’t break the bank. Start with burrata, mackerel, then choose from a lamb neck or iberico pork main course with summery vegetable accompaniments, and finish with cheese or the deliciously understated ‘custard and nutmeg’. Your very own MasterChef.
A French kitchen in the heart of Covent Garden with a generous set menu available for lunch and pre-theatre, if you’re quick enough. Xavier Boyer brings some of the most popular a la carte dishes without the price, a fact that is sure to please parents, in-laws, clients and your pals. Take a peek at the Japanese-inspired counter for a modern take on across-the-channel classic cuisine.
Another French masterpiece, Alain Ducasse’s residency at The Dorchester is one of the most revered restaurants going with a casual three Michelin stars to its name. It’s contemporary French cuisine so expect beautifully presented plates of classic dishes given a modern reinvention. A taste of luxury that’ll make you want to stay for dinner, the night and the rest of the week.
Sketch is one of those places that has to be seen to be believed, whether it’s the David Shrigley bedecked Gallery, the circular East bar or those bathrooms (we won’t spoil the surprise). Their Gourmet Rapide Lunch in the suitably retro Lecture Room & Library is worth a look in too with starters perfect for sharing then a choice of ‘fish’, ‘meat’ or ‘vegetarian’. Get a slice of extra culture too by opting for the three course menu and a ticket to the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. Smashing.
The Ledbury’s set lunch menu is straightforward; what you see is what you get, thanks to the pristine team and their attention to detail. Of course, everything is impeccable and the wine pairing takes you on a tour of the world, thanks to sommelier Anja, working in conjunction with the flavoursome food, all wrapped up in the comfortable and bright dining room. There’s a cosy feel here and we’ll sure you won’t want to leave.
You have to take Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner menu with a pinch of salt. And maybe a pig’s ear or two. Influenced by ‘Britain’s quirky history and linguistic playfulness’, Heston and Ashley Palmer-Watts have taken to forgotten recipes and given them a damn good shake up. Don’t expect pretty names but wait for dishes that really pack a punch and long for the good old days of dinner, whenever you eat it.
Here at TryThisFor, we’re big fans of Peruvian cuisine and we’re pleased that Lima’s been awarded a Michelin star within its first two years because it means there’s always an excuse for pisco sours and ceviche. Their Express Menu is one of the best value blowouts on a budget we’ve found - short and sweet and another one where going with a pal will ensure you cover all bases. Just enough to keep you going until round two later that day.
Tom Sellers’ first foray is a pretty successful tale (his out of town place, The Lickfold Inn, isn’t doing too badly either). Awarded a Michelin star five months in, Story is laidback without any of the pretence. Food is British and the menu is a bit ambiguous but we think discovery is all part of the experience. And if you’re alone, indulge their request to bring a book with you and add to their growing library of literature. Nice touch.