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 22 January 2020 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

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

London is a hotbed of new openings, with brand spanking new restaurants opening their doors practically every day in the capital. When a restaurant launches, it will often kick things off with a ‘soft launch’, where customers can get a first taste of the restaurant. 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 – happy eating!

Soft launches London: all of the latest openings

Sarap, Brixton

Opens 24 January with 50% off until 26 January. Fully open from 30 January

What: Following a string of successful (but short-lived) pop ups, Filipino outfit Sarap is making things a little more permanent, with this six month long residency in Brixton Village. Chef Ferdinand Montoya is the brains behind the menu and diners can expect to tuck into his signature dish of Cebu lechon: slow-roasted pork belly filled with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chilli, coconut vinegar and soy sauce. There will be other dishes and snacks available too, while the intimate space also has a few outdoor seats should you want to dine alfresco.
Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PS

Dehesa, Soho

Opens 26 January with 50% off food for tables of four or less until 27 January

What: Following an overhaul of both the space and the menu, charcuterie and tapas bar Dehesa is opening its doors once again. To celebrate, the restaurant is offering 50% off food at lunch and dinner for tables of up to four people, with guests able to feast on the likes of Jerusalem artichoke ravioli in a chestnut mushroom velouté served with crispy artichoke, or poached chorizo picante with braised black beans and Roscoff onion. We’re loving the new look too, which follows the industrial-chic template so loved by London’s restaurants.
25 Ganton Street, W1F 9BP

Flat Earth at The Plough, Homerton

Opens 31 January, with 50% off until 7 February

What: Popular pizzeria pop-up Flat Earth is back, this time with a long-term residency at the Plough in Homerton. Expect tantalising flavour combos and great ingredients – the dough is made from heritage grain, and the passata is made with fermented tomatoes from Dagenham farm. The pizzas are inspired by recipes from around the world to create tasty fusions, such as Red Star Kimchi Fiorentina or The Forager.
Where: 23-25 Homerton High Street, E9 6JP

Wing Shack, Clerkenwell

Opens 3 February with free wings for the first 100 customers

What: To celebrate the launch of its new pop up site in London (the brand originally started out in Essex), Wing Shack is hosting an almighty giveaway. The first 100 customers through the doors (from 6-8pm) will receive a portion of six wings each, entirely free of charge. If the wings hook you in, you can also make purchases from the regular menu, which includes burgers, wraps and sides such as halloumi fries and mac ‘n’ cheese. To get your freebie, just sign up to Wing Shack’s newsletter online and wing your way over to Clerkenwell.  
59-61 Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4SD

Zia Lucia, Aldgate

Opens 7 February with 50% off food until 13 February

What: This mini-chain of pizzerias has been popping up in London neighbourhoods for a while now (Holloway, Brook Green), but Zia Lucia Aldgate is the first to make the move to the east side of the capital. To celebrate the launch, Zia Lucia is offering 50% off food in its first week of service, with diners able to choose from pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven. Toppings to choose from include spicy salami, nduja and fresh burrata, while there’s homemade ricotta cheesecake and tiramisu for dessert.
12A Piazza Walk, E1 8ZH

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