London - birthday dinner suggestions?
My friend and I will be in London for her birthday and I'm looking some dining options. My budget is around 50GBP/person. A tasting menu would be fun. We both have broad/adventurous palates so no cuisine is off limits (though no Italian as we will be going to Italy after England). Would prefer a less-formal dining atmosphere as well. Doing some research some good options seem to be:
UPSTAIRS AT TEN BELLS
Any other suggestions?
I enjoyed my food at Kitchen W8 which is owned by Philip Howard of the Square. It's in a very beautiful residential area, and is a nice place to hit some pubs before/after dinner.
It's not as well known as St. John (which many people think is a bit past its sell-by date) or Roganic (which I've never been but have great things), but has a michelin star and is very good food at relatively reasonable prices.
Hi you've got a great shortlist there. Few thoughts
Roganic: best of the bunch in my view but if you're going for a weekend they only offer the £80 a head tasting menu on Fridays and Saturdays before wine so it might be a bit outside your budget. If you're going Tuesday to Thursday they do a 6-course menu for £55 so it really depends when you're going. Highly recommended though as it's novel ingredients, expertly combined.
St John: The least formal of the lot it's definitely worth going if you've not been to the HQ in Smithfield. It really isn't for everyone though so worth doing your research. It's not really one for the vegetable lover and best for those who are seriously into offal. I've had some good meals there but it doesn't feature in the best meals I've eaten and there are times when it's not at all what I'd want. It's the antidote to too many fancy dinners. That said I've not heard anyone articulating that it's past its sell-by date.
Personally I prefer Bread and Wine which is much more inventive with broadly the same ingredients.
They offer corkage for £15 a bottle so if it's a celebration might be worth going to Vinoteca opposite and getting a lovely bottle for £35 which will only cost you £50 in total - much better than the average markup. Or their house claret is perfectly decent to stay within budget.
Moti Mahal: one of the best indians in London, you won't be disappointed so it's your choice re cuisine really. Eyewatering markups on drinks though and there have been complaints recently about people being seated on bad tables next to the toilets so maybe worth asking to be upstairs when you reserve.
Ten Bells: would be my choice (especially if you're here on a weekend and ruling out Roganic). Brilliant atmospheric room, the best informal service of any restaurant in London and superb cooking which is not really replicated anywhere else. It isn't a tasting menu anymore though, more 3-courses and then you can order snacks to start. The prices have increased from when it was unbelievable value initially but it'd fit easily in your budget. Strongly recommended but again check the menu as it leaves some people a bit nonplussed.
I've not been to Kitchen W8 but my wife did very recently and said it was very lovey but a couple of small mis-steps in the cooking. Might have been an off-day though and Philip Howard is among the best chefs in Britain so menu is excellent. It does free corkage Sunday evenings which might be a bonus depending on your timetable.
Conclusion - you can't go wrong with any of these but they're very different so make sure you're choosing the right thing for what you want.
I think ROGANIC might win for the midweek birthday dinner but I can see going to a few others for lunch or to catch an early prix-fixe dinner deal!
The Kitchen W8 looks like a FIND!