Soft launches in London: Where to find free and discounted food

Enjoy up to 50% off at hot new restaurants with our round up of the best soft launches in London

Updated on 26 August 2020 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

Soft launches in London: Where to find free and discounted food

When it comes to new restaurant openings in the UK, London really is the place to be, with brand spanking new restaurants opening their doors practically every day in the capital. In all honesty, it can sometimes be almost overwhelming for foodies like us keeping track of what’s new and when the latest must-visit spots are finally opening their doors. It’s equally difficult to then decide which places you should be trying first and how you’re going to afford all this food. Well, if you haven’t heard of one before, let us introduce you to our friend the soft launch.

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When a restaurant launches, it will often kick things off with a soft launch, where customers can get a first taste of the restaurant before it’s even technically opened. Now, soft launches can vary hugely in terms of what’s on offer menu-wise, and whether you need to book etc. However, one thing that they tend to have in common is that they offer you food at a discounted price, and sometimes even for free. You may be wondering why any restaurant would do such a thing, but soft launches are useful for both parties as they give the staff the opportunity to have a sort of trial run before the official opening, and you the chance to fill up on delicious discounted food.

The only thing about soft launches is that they often aren’t widely advertised and also tend to come and go quite quickly, meaning you need to keep your eyes peeled. So to help you stay up-to-date with all of the soft launches London has to offer, we’ve put together a list of upcoming ones that you can try out for yourself, along with everything you need to know about what’s on offer and how to book – happy eating!

Soft launches London: all of the latest openings

The Cavendish, Marylebone

25% off food on 16 & 17 September


What: Marylebone gastropub The Cavendish has taken lockdown to completely rethink everything from its design, to the team and menu. Relaunching officially on 18 September, the kitchen will now see ex-Oystermen head chef and Angela Hartnett protégé Alex Povall take the helm, cooking a menu focused around sustainable produce. The great news is that for the two days leading up to the official launch, you will be able to try this exciting new menu with 25% off your food bill, thanks to a soft launch offer.
Where: 35 New Cavendish Street, W1G 9TR

Rondo at The Hoxton, Holborn

Open now with 25% off food until 31 August

What: The Hoxton hotel group is known for its effortlessly cool vibe and this latest project from the team is no different. Rondo is a restaurant and wine bar found at The Hoxton Holborn, with Chris Gillard (a former St John chef) at the helm. On the menu, you can expect to find seasonally changing ingredient-led dishes that suit the relaxed and cosy vibe - think Tamworth pork chop with bobby beans and chutney or a bone marrow toastie (no doubt a nod to Gillard’s time at St John). To mark the launch, the restaurant is currently offering 25% off the food bill.
Where: 199-206 High Holborn, WC1V 7BD

London soft launches: Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is a soft launch?  

A soft launch can be defined as a period of time in which a restaurant will offer discounted food (and sometimes drinks) to customers. Soft launches take place when a restaurant very first opens – some restaurants will heavily publicise their soft launches by hosting free giveaways or plastering it all over social media, while other restaurants take a more low-key approach.

Why do restaurants have soft launches?  

You’re probably wondering why a restaurant would charge customers less than it needs to when it first opens. Well, the reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, restaurants offer major discounts when they first open to spread the word about their arrival and ensure that customers come through the doors. A soft launch is a great incentive for London diners, and if customers like what they see at the restaurant, they’re more likely to return at a later date.

The second reason is that a soft launch is also a crucial period of time in which a restaurant can iron out any kinks and overcome any teething problems that they didn’t foresee during the planning stages. There’s no real way to know exactly how a restaurant will operate without giving it a go in real life, so a soft launch can be a great learning curve for restaurants and their staff, especially as people are less likely to be offended by food or service that isn’t entirely up to scratch when they aren’t paying full whack for their meal.

How long do soft launches last?

The length of time for which a new restaurant is on soft launch can vary wildly. Some restaurants will only offer discounted food on their very first day of operation or across their opening weekend, while others stretch their soft launch across a few weeks. It’s also important to note that some restaurants may offer 50% off for the first week of their launch, and then 25% off for the second. We’d always recommend checking out this page to see exactly what a restaurant is offering and for how long!

Want to know which new restaurants we're loving right now? Make your way through our pick of the hottest new openings