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Aug 20, 2012 05:26 PM

Set Lunch options for great value (London)

Hello all

My friend is visiting me in mid-September (during the week) and I am looking for some set lunch options at restaurants that are usually quite expensive for dinner, but more affordable for lunch.

I have already tried a couple of those restaurants and would like to get some inspiration for something new. Places I've already been for lunch include:

- Pollen Street Social: quite liked it, especially the desert bar
- Hakkasan Hanway Place: some good dim sum, but wouldn't rush back
- L' Atelier Joel Robouchon: The egg/mushroom dish was interesting (although I have seen a variation of this dish at other restaurants too), otherwise a little bit disappointed
- Bar Boulud: great atmosphere over lunch and delicious food, particularly the Boudin Blanc

I have already made reservations for Dinner by Heston and tried to book a table for Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road, but it was already fully booked. In fact, I don't necessarily need to go to any of his other restaurants.

I realise that my list is heavy on the "big names", but it should give you an idea of what I'm looking for. Nevertheless, I'm definitely open for something more "adventurous/edgy", as long as the food can offer something interesting and delicious. The budget for this meal can be between £30-45. Location is secondary, preferably somewhere in Zone 1.

Thanks for your suggestions and I will be happy to report back from my London lunch venture!

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  1. The sunday buffet lunch at Bombay Brasserie would be an obvious choice. I also liked lunching at Koffman's but at your budget I would probably just get the stuffed trotters a la carte and skip a starter, as the dish is immense and rich; add the pistacchio souffle and you should still be under £45. I remember the set lunch at Trinity being good, but that's in Clapham.

    In your position, I would take the opportunity to try places like Sedap or Mohsen or Alwaha where you can go for the full experience. Not set lunch deals that are simplified versions of what the restaurant does, but some of the best stuff around. Or try Rochelle School Canteen, that's only open for lunch.

    5 Replies
    1. re: limster

      As Limster says personally I would go for something different but if you would like to stick to your original fine dining plan, I really like the deals at the Arbutus/Wild Honey group. They are much lower in price and so you could easily substitute an a la carte dish you liked the look of, or get a second carafe of wine.

      1. re: limster

        I enjoyed Sedap when I visited the restaurant a couple of months ago and will definitely try Bombay Brasserie on another occasion. Rochelle Canteen could be an option - liking the concept!

        I thought of doing the more bolder/adventurous dining options at night and just really wanted to show my friend as much variety as possible. But do you think that the kind of restaurants that I listed in my original list only offer a "watered down" option for lunch, which would not be worthwhile going? This could perhaps explain why I was sometimes a bit underwhelmed with the food when I went there for lunch.

        1. re: molon

          It varies, and while some restaurants do provide a great value for a set lunch, others are somewhat watered down as you say and it takes a bit of effort to sort them out. It's not often that one gets a discount on something, but rather one gets something simpler for a lower price, which can reasonable and fair, but won't be the best the place has to offer. But for me I also wonder what I would be missing otherwise. In some cases the compromise isn't that huge e.g. seared tuna vs tuna tartare at Trinity, with all the same flavours, except that the tartare was a good way for the kitchen is use up smaller pieces.

          Also consider the lunch only Maltings Cafe. Also happens to be inexpensive for the quality, but that's almost beside the point, as the food is excellent. Another option I'd throw out is Pizzaro -- you'll be able to get the full experience for about £35ish for food. You could also grab a burger at Goodman's in Mayfair, with enough left over budget wise that you can walk to Pollen Street Social for dessert afterwards.

          Alyn Williams had a good value tasting menu that was well priced (although they'll get you back on the wine); iirc there was also a lunch menu that seemed inexpensive.

          Try the dim sum at Royal China Club and see what you think. Good teas there, which are de rigeur for dim sum.

          1. re: limster

            I read that Maltings Cafe was closed from the SE1 forum. Can anyone confirm? I was planning to take my friends who are visiting from out of the country, but now I guess the choice is between Zucca or Jose!

            1. re: astereilla

              Just lunched there about 10 days ago, it was still open. Hope that helps.

      2. your friend is going to be very full with with your lunch and dinner plans!

        there's useful info here about lunch deals or you can just work your way down the list of big names/michelin stars as most of them do something:

        in my experience some lunch deals give you a good taste of the restaurant and others don't. the two biggest which really didn't offer anything that meet my expectations (which admittedly may have been too high) were Le Gavroche and The Square.

        I think the Ledbury, Dinner and PSS do good lunch menus. I've also enjoyed Murano's lunch but not for a while. the Helene Darroze menu also looked good (on other's tables) when i was there - most of the restaurant seemed to be people eating this!

        does anyone know if the Alain Ducasse lunch menu is any good?

        3 Replies
        1. re: abby d

          I've eaten lunch at Ducasse. It was far from inspiring but the service was excellent and for £51pp (at the time) it was undoubtedly very good value given that it came with all the extras of amuse bouches, pre-desserts, petit fours and the like.

          The fact wine, coffee and water are included means you at least know what you're spending.

          1. re: ManInTransit

            thanks ManinTransit.

            whilst lacking in inspiration, did the food have characteristics that you'd expect/hope for from a 3* restaurant? i worry it will be a similar experience to Le Gavroche where i felt as though i was being served the semi-rustic alternative to their michelin-starred alc food!

            1. re: abby d

              No I don't think it felt cheap. Obviously there were no langoustines or turbot but the dishes were what you'd expect - quite intricate and well-constructed and there was good variety - I had a very good chicken and fois gras main while my girlfriend had two fish dishes which were both excellent. Nothing mind-blowing but just a very enjoyable birthday lunch.

              It wouldn't be my first choice to spend £110 on a lunch in London but if you've never been then you certainly won't feel as though it's bad value for what you get.

        2. Might be well worth the OP having a scout round the set menu offers on TopTable (which is where I always start my bargain hunting anywhere in the country).

          1. I'd go to Sketch Lecture room for the set lunch. It's in your budget (forty quidish I think), a great deal (about four different starters, canapes, doodads, pre dessert, two desserts etc). Plus the whole place is suitably bonkers that it'll be great fun for a visitor.

            Plus they sell London's best patisserie on the ground floor.

            Plus it's getting a second michelin star next week! ;-)