Cheap meals in London's best restaurants

Posh nosh for less dosh – the finest restaurants with bargain pre-theatre deals and set menus

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Want to sample London's gourmet restaurants without splashing the cash? Take a seat at off-peak times and you can eat like a king for a lot less than you'd expect. Here are just a few the finest London restaurants with bargain pre-theatre deals and uncommonly cheap set menus.

© Tricia de Courcy Ling

Lawn Bistro

  • Rated as: 5/5
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NB in February 2014 chef Ollie Couillaud left; who will replace him is not yet clear. The review below refers to 2013 only. Time Out Editors     More refined than you’d infer from its name alone, the Lawn Bistro is a classic French dining room that has added a strong independent voice to the chain restaurants and cafés of Wimbledon. Open since 2011, it offers accomplished French cuisine via two- or three-course prix fixe menus and a drinks list notable for French ciders

  1. 67 High Street, SW19 5EE
  2. Set lunch (Mon-Sat) £14.95, £19.50 2 courses,...
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Plateau

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Offer

The aptly named Plateau sits on the fourth floor of Canada Place, with sensational views of Canary Wharf from its huge glass and metal façade. The interior aims to impress with iconic contemporary furniture – marble-topped white Eero Saarinen Tulip tables and matching chairs, and Arco floor lamps – but the restaurant isn’t just a designer showroom for the moneyed classes; the beautifully presented cuisine is testament to the fact that head chef Allan Pickett takes his job

  1. Canada Place, Canada Square, E14 5ER
  2. Main courses £14-£29.50. Set meal £22 2...
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Theo Randall at the InterContinental

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice
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Since 2006, when Theo Randall, long-time head chef at the River Café, opened this eponymous restaurant its reputation (and Randall’s media profile) has gone from strength to strength. The colourful, spacious dining room is high on comfort, if a little corporate, with cream leather, walnut wood and olive green shades. Service is caring and warm-hearted and the cooking, in our experience, is joyous. The carte is not cheap, featuring luxury produce such as Limousin veal and wild

  1. 1 Hamilton Place, Park Lane, W1J 7QY
  2. Main courses £28-£38. Set meal (lunch,...
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Club Gascon

Club Gascon

Club Gascon

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice
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The presence of the three-strong Gascon group (as well as Comptoir Gascon, there’s wine bar Cellar Gascon) ensures that a small area of east-central London has a flavour of south-west France. This is the most expensive of the trio, a Michelin-starred sanctuary of haute cuisine. Heavy wooden screens shut out the world; inside is a serene and urbane room of greys and golds with marble panels. Head chef Pascal Aussignac is from Toulouse, and the hallmarks of the area’s cuisine

  1. 57 West Smithfield, EC1A 9DS
  2. Dishes £12-£26. Set lunch £25 2 courses incl...
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Thomas Skovesende / Time Out

Hakkasan

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Offer

More than a decade after it started wowing London’s big spenders with its classy Cantonese cooking, this Michelin-starred trendsetter remains a benchmark against which all high-end Chinese restaurants should be judged. The basement’s stylish interior (all dark wood lattice screens and moody lighting) still attracts the kind of beautiful people who might suppress their appetites – though there was little evidence of restraint on our midweek night visit. Plate after plate

  1. 8 Hanway Place, W1T 1HD
  2. Main courses £17-£61. Dim sum £3-£20. Set...
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Britta Jaschinski / Time Out

Barshu

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice
  • Offer

The distance north of Shaftesbury Avenue, though only 20 metres, is important. Barshu (the original of a Sichuan quartet along with Ba Shan, Baozi Inn and newcomer Baiwei) is distinct from Chinatown’s mostly Cantonese restaurants in looks and pricing, as well as cuisine. The dark wooden ground floor is brightened by red lanterns and partitioned by a beautifully carved screen; upstairs is similarly woody. Despite such rusticity, you could spend extravagantly here – though

  1. 28 Frith Street, W1D 5LF
  2. Main courses £9.90-£30.90. Minimum charge...
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Q Grill

  • Rated as: 4/5
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‘Twat.’ ‘Cow.’ ‘Wanker’: those of us who have ever worked ‘front of house’ in the past would expect this kind of abuse on a Friday night, when service would reach boiling point and the chefs would lose their cool. Afterwards, we’d sit down for a few beers, and all would be forgiven. These days, of course, all the cool, sexy restaurants have open kitchens, so you can see – and hear – all the action.   So it was with some admiration that we watched the chefs

  1. 29-33 Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AJ
  2. Meal for two with drinks and service: around...
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Wild Honey

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Offer

Wild Honey underwent a revamp in autumn 2012 – the dining room still has the same wood panelling meets modern art vibe as before, but it’s now possible to look from one end of the vibrantly accessorised (the soft furnishings, in particular) restaurant to the other. The quirky nooks and crannies have been lost, but it no doubt makes things easier for the staff. A meal from the spring menu promised much, but didn’t always deliver: organic salmon, with piquillo peppers, butter

  1. 12 St George Street, W1S 2FB
  2. Main courses £24-£30. Set lunch (Mon-Fri)...
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Almeida

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  • Offer

The route between the Almeida theatre over the road and this D&D London restaurant is a well-trodden one: visit of an evening and there’s an exodus before curtain-up. The pre-theatre menu here, then, is often just that – and is excellent value at £17 for two courses, £20 for three. Those without a show to rush to can take more time over the sophisticated cooking, which is broadly modern French with a few excursions around Europe and Britain. On our last visit, Cornish

  1. 30 Almeida Street, N1 1AD
  2. Main courses £18-£22. Set meal (lunch...
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Trishna London

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Offer

Gaining its first Michelin star in 2012, Trishna London is a world away from the shabby interior of its sister restaurant in Mumbai. This contemporary-looking eaterie is smart and quietly conservative, its dining room barely distinguishable from those of its Marylebone neighbours save for the retro Air India prints on the walls. The Mumbai original is known for its focus on seafood, but here equal prominence is given to meat and vegetarian dishes. An Indian twist on a British

  1. 15-17 Blandford Street, W1U 3DG
  2. Main courses £10-£22. Set lunch £17.50 2...
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