When it comes to eating out, sometimes the occasion calls for something a little bit fancy, even if your bank balance is calling for a Boots meal deal. In the spirit of compromise, here are ten of London’s best tasting menus under fifty quid, with the lowest starting at just £25 a head.
I went to Perilla in Stoke Newington the other day for one of my most tasteful friends’ birthday dos, and it was spectacular, even though some of the dishes on the menu sound a bit…silly. Specifically I am talking about ‘Yesterday’s Bread Soaked In Fish Soup’, which was the source of much snide amusement until I actually ate it and was forced to eat my words as well, because it was bloody brilliant.
The £44 tasting menu comes with three distinct ‘snack’ courses, like jumbo amuse-bouches; a big wodge of homemade seaweed sourdough with braised greens and goat’s yogurt; and four proper courses. Add paired drinks for an additional £28 (not my bag, if I’m honest, there was some Lambrusco and a dessert wine that I wasn’t too keen on, but it’s there if you want it).
Picture, Marylebone and Fitzrovia
Picture is one of my absolute favourite restaurants in London, because the food is good, the service is flawless and the whole experience is exceptionally good value, especially for the locations. I’ll never forget taking a vegetarian and a dairy-free pescatarian for the tasting menu, cringing slightly when I booked as I filled in the little box for dietary requirements, and arriving to find they’d designed tasting menus for each of them and printed them out. Gold star, lads. The Fitzrovia restaurant does pre-dinner snacks, a seasonal Bellini and a five-course tasting menu for just £35. Marylebone does a six-course menu for £45.
Smoke & Salt, Brixton
Smoke & Salt operates out of a little shipping container in Pop Brixton, the same one that Kricket recently vacated to open its Soho restaurant. Chefs Aaron and Remi, who started out doing supper clubs, are all about using seasonal ingredients and traditional smoking and curing methods to bring out the best in them. The best way to try this is with their seven course seasonal menu, an absolute steal at £25 a head.
Like Smoke and Salt, Wildflower does a tasting menu on request for just £25 a head. I visited a while back and ate off the regular menu (review here) – it’s an absolute must-visit for vegans (and should be pretty high on the list for everyone else).
I haven’t made it to Nest yet, but I will soon because everyone I ask about it who’s been starts frothing at the mouth. It’s known for its £32 seven-course tasting menus, a kitchen headed up by ex-Harwood Arms chef Johnnie Crowe, and its notable quirk of only having one meat in the kitchen at a time (right now it’s rare breed British Lop Pork from Trevaskis Farm in Cornwall).
Carousel isn’t so much a restaurant as an open kitchen with a calendar of back-to-back chef residencies. It works like a supper club, so you book and pay in advance, and although the number of courses varies, the price stays the same at £39.50pp.
Cinnamon Kitchen, Battersea
The latest in chef Vivek Singh’s Cinnamon collection, Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea serves up a nine-course Indian feast with a Tony Conigliaro cocktail for just £37.50. Dishes include sea bream ceviche, chargrilled pork ribs in a honey chilli glaze, and 24-hour black daal.
Speaking of Tony Conigliaro, his Untitled bar also does a £45 tasting menu on every second Thursday of the month, but the Japanese-inspired dishes – all designed by Executive Chef Rob Roy Cameron – remain a surprise until the night.
The Laughing Heart, Hackney
Hackney’s cup runneth over with affordable tasting menus these days, it seems, and this late, late-night bistro and wine bar is especially popular. With no set menu, the £39pp ‘carte blanche’ option is ten or so sharing dishes that change every day.
This is a Monday to Friday, lunchtime-only kind of deal, which is a bit of a bummer as most of us have jobs to go to, but save this one in the little bit of your brain reserved for staycation plans. The Taste of Gymkhana menu is available between 12-2pm and includes five courses of Michelin-starred Indian cuisine for £38.50 – (almost) worth taking a day of annual leave for.
Header image credit: Smoke & Salt
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.