London's five-star eating at 2-star prices
Gourmet alert: London chefs are coming to the rescue of foodies priced out of luxe dining by the economy and the unfavorable rate of exchange of the past. Some of the most estimable dining rooms are now affordable. Finally.
There are great dining deals in nine out of ten restaurants with at least one Michelin star. Generally, they are set lunches and pre-/post-theatre dinners. Some are for two or three courses, usually with a couple of choices; sometimes they include wine and/or coffee, and perhaps even petit fours. Some are available only on weekdays, or at designated pre- and post-theatre times. But whatever the restrictions, you can now sample some of the hautest cuisine in town at relatively gentle prices.
For instance, Richard Corrigan, acclaimed Irish chef, grew up on a farm, so no surprise the menu at his newest restaurant, the stylish Corrigan’s Mayfair, features such traditional rustic fare as pheasant, grouse, venison, duck, and other seasonal game, wild salmon and freshwater trout. On the regular menu, starters range from £9 to £18, and mains from £17 to about £24, but come between noon and 3:30, and you’ll get a three-course seasonal market lunch for £27 or two courses for £22. The day I was there the three choices per course were fresh crayfish, country terrine, or duck consomme to start; filet of sea bream, wild asparagus linguine, or roast chicken tarragon for a main, and berry jelly, mango parfait, or cheese and biscuits for dessert. Corrigan’s Mayfair, 28 Upper Grosvenor Street, 011-44-20-7499-9943.
Arbutus, a Soho theatre district gem, serves hearty modern European cuisine, such as saddle of rabbit; bouillabaisse; and slow-cooked organic salmon; its inventive kitchen won it a Michelin star in its first year. On the regular menu starters are £8-10; mains, about £16-20; and desserts, about £7.but a three-course set meal at lunch is £15.50, and £17.50 during the pre/post theatre hours of 5pm-7pm and 10pm-11pm on Mon-Thurs, 10.30pm-11.30pm on Fri-Sat. The set seasonal menus offer two choices per course; a typical summer offering was chilled organic vegetable soup or salmon rillette salad; chicken fricassee or risotto of smoked eel; and pain perdu, custard or Morbier cheese. Arbutus, 63 Frith Street, 011-44-20-7734-4545.
Vineet Bhatia was one of the first Indian chefs to earn a Michelin star for his innovative modern and wide-ranging Indian cuisine, presented in a charming Chelsea town house. You’ll get an idea from the starter Rasoi Platter of spiced home smoked salmon, grilled scallop skewer, crispy prawn, green chicken tikka, lamb seekh kebab, and chili tandoori broccoli. Specialties include lobster and lamb, chocolate samosa, and tea ice cream in a crisp. On the regular menu two courses run £45, 3 courses are £55. But come at lunch and two courses are £21, 3 courses are £26, with your choice of ginger grilled prawns or grilled vegetables to start; sea bass or tandoori mustard chicken or chili – coconut prawn masala or Kashmiri lamb as a main, and coconut pannacotta or caramelized rice pudding for dessert. Rasoi Vineet Bhatia, 10 Lincoln Street, 011-44-20-7225-1881.
The Narrow, a century-old Thames-side pub in the Canary Wharf area of East London, doesn’t have a Michelin star of its own but it does have a Bib Gourmand award for good food at moderate prices, and as Gordon Ramsay’s first gastropub, it shows what traditional pub grub can taste like in the hands of a master. The regular menu is easy on the wallet—such starters as potted pork and mackerel terrine are about £6; mains like hake and chips, confit lamb shoulder and chicken pie with mash run about £12-16, and desserts are £5.50—and what a bargain the set menus are. The summer menu offers two courses for £18.50, and three for £22.50, both including a glass of wine; starter choices are soup of the day or “bubble and squeak,” with soft poached egg or country paté; mains are bangers, colcannon and onion gravy or rainbow trout or pea and leek tart; desserts are pecan brownie with vanilla ice cream or steamed treacle pudding or apple and rhubarb crumble with ginger ice cream. All this with a great river view, a delightful deck, and an excellent beer or ale in hand. The Narrow, 44 Narrow Street, London; 011-44-20-7592-7950.
Here are some of the Michelin-starred restaurants offering their best deals. They have one star unless otherwise noted. Best to contact them for the latest particulars of days and hours.
Under £20 per person:
Amaya, Halkin Arcade, Motcomb Street, 011-44-20-7823-1166, realindianfood.com; Indian
Arbutus, 63 Frith Street, 011-44-20-7734-4545, arbutusrestaurant.co.uk; European
Club Gascon , 57 West Smithfield Market, 011-44-20-7796-0600, clubgascon.com; French
Foliage, Mandarin Oriental, 66 Knightsbridge, 011-44-20-7201-3723, mandarinoriental.com; Modern European
Hakkasam, 8 Hanway Place, 011-44-20-7907-1888; Chinese
Maze Grill, 10-13 Grosvenor Square, 011-44-20-7107-0000, gordonramsay.com; NY grill style
Nahm, The Halkin Hotel, Halkin Street, 011-44-20-7333-1234, nahm.como.bz; Thai
Rhodes WI, Great Cumberland Place, 011-44-20-7616-5930, rhodesw1.com; British
Tom’s Kitchen, 27 Cale Street, 011-44-20-7349-0202, www.tomskitchen.co.uk; Tom Aikens’ brasserie.
Wild Honey, 12 St George Street, 011-44-20-7758-9160, www.wildhoneyrestaurant.co.uk; Modern European
Yauatcha, 15 Broadwick Street, 011-44-20-7494-8888; Chinese
£20 to £30 per person:
Ambassade de L’Ile, 117-119 Old Brompton Road, 011-44-20-7373-7774, ambassadedelile.com; French
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (two stars), 13-15 West Street, Covent Garden, 011-44-20-7010-8600, joel-robuchon.com; French
Aubergine, 11 Park Walk, 011-44-20-7352-3449, auberginerestaurant.co.uk; French
Benares, 12A Berkeley Square, 011-44-20-7629-8886, benaresrestaurant.com; Indian
The Capital (two stars), 22 Basil Street, 011-44-20-7589-5171, capitalhotel.co.uk; Modern European
The Glasshouse, 14 Station Parade, Kew, 011-44-20-8940-6777, glasshouserestaurant.co.uk; Modern European
Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, 55 Brook Street, 011-44-20-7499-0099; gordonnramsay.com
The Greenhouse, 27A Hays Mews, 011-44-20-7499-3331 www.greenhouserestaurant.co.uk; Modern European
Helene Darroze at the Connaught, 16 Carlos Place, 011-44-20-7499-7070, theconnaught.com; French
Nobu, 19 Old Park Lane, 011-44-20-7447-4747, noburestaurants.com; Japanese
Nobu Berkeley St, 15 Berkeley Street, 011-44-20-7290-9222, noburestaurants.com; Japanese
Pied a Terre (two stars), 34 Charlotte Street, 011-44-20-7636-1178, pied-a-terr.co.u
The Square (two stars), 6-10 Bruton Street, 011-44-20-7495-7100, squarerestaurant.com; Modern European
Tom Aikens, 43 Elystan Street, 011-44-20-7584-2003, www.tomaikens.co.uk; Modern European
La Trompette, 5-7 Devonshire Road, 011-44-20-8747-1836, latrompette.co.uk; French
Zafferano, 15 Lowndes Street, 011-44-20-7235-5800, zafferanorestaurant.com; Italian
Over £30 per person:
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester (two stars), 53 Park Lane, 011-44-20-7629-8866, alainducasse-dorchester.com; French
Le Gavroche (two stars), 43 Upper Brook Street, 011-44-20-7408-0881, le-gavroche.co.uk; French
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (three stars), 68 Royal Hospital Road, 011-44-20-7352-4441; gordonnramsay.com
Hibiscus (two star), 29 Maddox Street, 011-44-20-7629-2999, hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk, Modern European
Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley (two stars), Wilton Place, 011-44-20-7235-1200, the-berkeley.co.uk; Modern European
Roussillon, 16 St. Barnabas Street, 011-44-20-7730-5550, rousillon.co.uk; French
Sketch – Lecture Room & Library, 9 Conduit Street, 011-44-20-7659-4500, sketch.uk.com; French
Check out more good eating at moderate prices in Time Out’s “London Eating & Drinking 2009” and in Time Out’s “Cheap Eats in London.&rdquo