You might think that the title of this post is abit of an oxymoron as michelin stars and cheap don’t usually go together. I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘cheap’. An average meal at a London based one michelin starred restaurant usually starts from £55 (at L’Autre Pied say) to £150 at the three starred The Fat Duck.
Generally speaking, since the financial crisis, many restaurants – holders of stars or otherwise – now serve popular set lunch deals several notches below the asking price of their flagship menus, although there is usually a penalty on quality as well, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. Here, I am refering to a few pioneering restaurateurs out there who are exploring alternative ways to climb to the pinnacle of haute cuisine, without diners resorting to robbing the bank just to have a fine meal.
Arbutus and Wild honey – Perhaps the shining examples of the affordable Michelin meal, both restaurants are owned by Anthony Demetre whose concept involves taking less expensive ingredients and then turning them into world class Anglo-French flair. One of my favourite dishes at Arbutus is their pig’s head terrine, oozing with rich braised flavour and melting fatty bits, surely testament to the skill of a chef who can turn such a grisly ingredient into something entirely sumptuous. Lunch and pre-theatre menus are priced almost shockingly at meagre £16.95, and the a la carte will have you full and fanciful under £40.
La Trompette – This delicious French restaurant based in Chiswick is a sleeper that doesn’t get the rave reviews it deserves. Their lunchtime ala carte menu is priced at £23.50 and for dinner, an attractive £39.50 for three courses. Chef James Bennington’s food – formerly of Chez Bruce – takes on a shimmering brilliance by putting a regal twist on classical French flavours. Rum Baba on a bed of glazed strawberries and chantilly cream anyone?
Galvin at Windows – Chef Andre Garrett must be smiling ear to ear as his restaurant based on the 28th floor on the Hilton in Park Lane had only just acquired a Michelin star this year. The menu is largely French and is of the sensible haute cuisine style, with efficient twists on established recipes such as smoked potato veloute and roasted partridge breast served with toasted pearl barley. Three courses of the a la carte can be had for £33.
So there you go, four highly regarded fine dining establishments for you to consider, just in case you need to celebrate a special occasion, on a tight budget.
Kang regularly updates his blog, LondonEater with stories of his gastronomic escapades, complete with sumptuous photos of every dish he’s eaten.