Best restaurants for value gourmet lunches in London

Gourmet dining in London has been democratised, with plenty of high-end restaurants now offering affordable lunch options. SquareMeal’s list of the best restaurants for value gourmet lunches in London will help you to enjoy gourmet delights at a

Updated on 18 January 2018

Best restaurants for value gourmet lunches in London

Gourmet dining in London has been democratised, with plenty of high-end restaurants now offering affordable lunch options. SquareMeal’s list of the best restaurants for value gourmet lunches in London will help you to enjoy gourmet delights at a snip of their usual price. Every one of the best restaurants for value gourmet lunches in London featured in SquareMeal’s list of the best restaurants for value gourmet lunches in London have been tried and tested by food critics and our own customers so check out the reviews and book a table online with SquareMeal today.


Murano

Murano

Over £80
Italian
One michelin star

20 Queen Street, London, W1J 5PP

Angela Hartnett’s flagship restaurant is Mayfair dining at its very best – “fabulous” food, “unobtrusive” staff and a first-rate wine list manned by a “brilliant” sommelier. The sleek white-and-beige dining room with the odd art-deco flourish may still have echoes of its Gordon Ramsay days, but Hartnett’s Brit-Italian cooking keeps Murano apace with London’s vanguard. The ultra-flexible menu lets you choose up to five courses at will, from an exquisite scallop crudo with plump greengages and crunchy oats, piqued by a lemon verbena foam to gorgeous parcels of rabbit meat and sage in a clear broth or a star dish of confit pink fir apples, crispy skins and a creamy Tunworth cheese foam. The huge wine list stays true to Hartnett’s Italian heritage, and you can keep costs down by ordering the “excellent-value” set lunch. “Murano is perfect for any occasion”, confirms one fan.

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Le Gavroche

Le Gavroche

Over £80
French
Two michelin stars
£50 - £79

43 Upper Brook Street, London, W1K 7QR

Stoically eschewing the cult of the new, Le Gavroche remains a bastion of haute cuisine in all its ancien régime finery – although you may need a certain worldly-wise mindset to fully appreciate this grandee’s many attributes. The dark exclusivity of the cocooned dining room, the fastidiously dutiful service and the indulgent extravagance of the food all seem to evoke a time gone by. As ever, Michel Roux’s Jr’s kitchen is intent on delivering classical cooking of the highest order, although he does allow the occasional flirtation with contemporary themes: trendy bottarga, two kinds of beetroot and ‘late-harvest’ Canadian vinegar balancing a dish of marinated and seared sea trout; ras-el-hanout spices adding exotic fragrance to a plate of stone bass, roasted peanuts enhancing some “incomparable” breast and leg of pigeon. Still, we take comfort in the classics – the ever-present and ever-gorgeous soufflé suissesse, the brilliantly succulent pig’s head terrine with braised snails, lemon and “inimitable” parsley purée, a perfect strawberry dessert highlighted with vanilla cream. Yes, eating here can be frighteningly expensive (especially if you dip into the aristocratic wine list), but readers also extol the virtues of the all-inclusive set lunch. With its two Michelin stars, fans say Le Gavroche is “quite simply the best”.  

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The Ledbury

The Ledbury

Over £80
Modern European
Two michelin stars

127 Ledbury Road, London, W11 2AQ

“Incredibly inventive”; “consistently wonderful”; “simply outstanding on every level”: readers confirm that The Ledbury is still a paragon of fine dining in the capital. It may radiate old-school affluence, but Brett Graham’s über-suave destination comes across as an inclusive eatery for locals, tourists and perambulating foodies alike – a neighbourhood destination kitted out with arty chandeliers, leather chairs and mirrored walls. Diners descend on the place in search of “top-class contemporary food” from a chef who cooks with vigour, authority and audacious brio. Regulars suggest that tasting menus are the way to go: “every course is a surprise”, whether you begin with a Chantilly of oyster, sea bream tartare and frozen English wasabi or the “stand-out” flame-grilled mackerel with pickled cucumber, Celtic mustard and shiso. There is stupendous meat and game too, perhaps Herdwick lamb with salt-baked kohlrabi, Padrón pepper and garlic or a sanguine-toned dish of Berkshire roe deer accompanied by smoked bone marrow, cherries, red leaves and vegetables. As thoughts turn to sweetness, the kitchen obliges with masterstrokes such as blackcurrant-leaf ice cream paired with buffalo-milk meringues and mead. Impeccable staff “genuinely enjoy their job”, and it’s worth engaging with one of the knowledgeable sommeliers if you want to get the best from the endlessly fascinating list. What more could you want from a two-Michelin-starred sophisticate?



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Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental

£50 - £79
British
Two michelin stars

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA

With Heston Blumenthal’s name attached and a menu of eye-catching dishes that play with our perceptions of British cookery, Dinner was always going to be a hit with London’s gastro-tourists, and there are plenty of reasons for them to leave feeling satisfied – not least the beautiful daytime view of Hyde Park, the fun of the nitro-fuelled ice cream cart and the switched-on staff.

“Attention to detail is second to none”, observes a fan. Even if you don’t buy into the restaurant’s date-stamped reinterpretation of historical recipes, there’s a formidable cornucopia of gastronomic delights to relish – from the ‘meat fruit’ (c.1500) disguised as a mandarin with subtle citrus notes to the soft, juicy ‘tipsy cake’ (c.1810) with spit-roast pineapple. Also brace yourself for other extraordinary conceits ranging from ‘sherried’ scallop tartare with mushroom broth to chicken ‘oysters’ invigorated with horseradish cream and pickled walnuts. Sides are not to be sniffed at either – the mash is among the creamiest we’ve tasted. Obviously, such a “luxurious experience” doesn’t come cheap (especially if you commit to the wine flights), although set lunches offer a more accommodating prospect. Either way, prepare to be astonished. 

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Medlar

Medlar

£50 - £79
Modern European

438 King's Road, London, SW10 0LJ

A lot of love goes into this charming neighbourhood restaurant: its elegant white and green decor still looks fresh, menus are updated regularly and service is always on point. That suggests dedication as well as strong heritage: the two chef/owners are graduates of Chez Bruce and have established a reputation for gutsy Euro-accented food built around an exceptionally well-priced set menu. To start, the signature crab raviolo is a fixture, although one reader highly recommends the duck-egg tart with sautéed duck hearts. Steaks are another mainstay, but much of the line-up changes seasonally: in autumn, you might begin with elaborate salad involving black figs, baby beetroot, Bayonne ham, goats’ curd, pickled onion and toasted hazelnuts, ahead of “delicious” rump of beef topped with snails or a richly flavoured pork fillet, served with pork cheek, boudin noir, wild mushrooms and pistou. Ask the enthusiastic sommelier for wine recommendations, and “request some Madeleines with your after-dinner coffee”.   

 

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Restaurant Story

Restaurant Story

Over £80
British
One michelin star

199 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2JX

Tom Sellers gained a reputation as something of an enfant terrible when he opened his first solo venture, Restaurant Story, at the age of 26 in 2013; now he’s re-opened it with a refurb after a six-week closure. The whole place feels more grown-up; the stark Scandinavian look of the glass-walled room (Sellers spent a year at Noma in 2011) has been softened with tablecloths and sculptures, while the rather precious ‘story’ elements, such as guests being asked to bring a book to leave behind, have thankfully been pulped.

There’s no menu as such; guests are asked for any likes or dislikes before a procession of tasting-menu size dishes arrive, although they are likely to include story classics such as ‘Storeos’ – a savoury spin on an Oreo cookie filled with cheese – and Sellers’ signature dish of bread with dripping, in which a beef-fat candle lit at the table melts to become a dipping sauce for sour dough.

But it’s not all about the visual gags. Sublime turbot, Champagne and sea herbs, and chicken with morels and lettuce, bear witness to Sellers’ rock-solid training with some of London’s most famous chefs, while oscietra caviar, veal sweetbread and turnip showcased superb ingredients with every mouthful.

Even diners who have an allergic reaction to tasting menus are likely to be won over by the joy and invention on show here, although what elevated the meal for us from high-end rivals was the relaxed service led by witty and down-to-earth maitr’d Joe Paulinski who, for all his good humour, learnt his trade at the very serious Per Se. All in all, this is a Story that now knows how to put a smile on its customers’ faces, and if you haven’t returned since it first opened, it more than merits a re-visit.

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Park Chinois

Park Chinois

Over £80
Chinese

17 Berkeley Street, W1J 8EA

Replete with swathes of red velvet, powder-blue armchairs, ostentatious trappings and nightly live music (often jazz), Park Chinois is an opulent take on a 1930s Shanghai speakeasy that is built for big-money special-occasion dining – complete with a Chinese menu designed around separate western-style courses and served by “impeccable” staff. Dim sum is a top shout at Park Chinois, and rightly so: we love the spicy intensity of the Szechuan vegetable dumplings, the oh-so-crispy duck spring rolls and the summer truffle bao buns. Order from the carte and you might be treated to braised short-ribs with black bean sauce, red prawns with coconut, okra and tamarind or a veggie claypot of aubergines and tofu – although big groups go for the roasted-to-order full-strength Peking duck served with pancakes, shredded cucumber and baby leeks. To finish, there are some unmissable westernised desserts – do try the vanilla cheesecake twinned with passion fruit and strawberry sorbet. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something sultry, head downstairs to the plush-yet-cosy Club Chinois, where the entertainment is a little more risqué.   

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Gymkhana

Gymkhana

£50 - £79
Indian
One michelin star

42 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4JH

A “classy”, low-lit contemporary Indian from the multi-talented Sethi family (Trishna, Bao, Lyle’s et al), Gymkhana channels colonial clubbiness over two floors on Albemarle Street – with a dash of “French brasserie” thrown in.

Food-wise, fans reckon that the “real stars are the starters”, and we have to agree after sampling the kid-goat methi keema piled into buttered buns, and soft (almost scrambled) duck egg bhurji with lobster and Malabar paratha. Happy customers also appreciate the flexibility of the service, with “efficient”, unflappable staff willing and able to accommodate last-minute changes to party sizes and orders.

In these situations, add a muntjac biriyani with pomegranate and mint raita (an instant classic) to your order of paneer tikka with cashew nut and corn chaat, partridge pepper fry, a “fiery, blow your head off” wild boar vindaloo or tiger prawns with red pepper chutney, then sit back and watch the contentment set in. Thoughtfully chosen wines and specially brewed Gymkhana lager get top marks, or you could try a Quinine Sour with fresh curry leaves in the atmospheric basement bar.

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Hélène Darroze at The Connaught

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught

Over £80
French
Two michelin stars

The Connaught Hotel, Carlos Place, London, W1K 2AL

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught is the legendary hotel’s flagship restaurant and it continues to live up to its two-Michelin-starred credentials, with effortlessly efficient staff overseeing the cosseting wood-panelled dining room. The food bears all the hallmarks of Darroze’s signature style – artisan ingredients, beautiful presentation and pinpoint cooking with subtle eclectic nuances. Flavours and textures sing throughout, from the soft folds of Bayonne ham delivered as an appetiser to sweet strawberries topped with fragrant basil and olive-oil Chantilly for dessert. Elsewhere, grouse carries North African ras-el-hanout spicing balanced by the sweetness of dates, and velvety cubes of Wagyu beef are served with crispy puffs of potato laced with truffle for a thoroughly decadent take on steak-frites. Wine pairings chosen by a team of talented sommeliers make Hélène Darroze at The Connaught an oenophile’s delight, and there’s a huge selection of vintage bottles from top producers on the pricey list. 

 

The Ayala SquareMeal’s Best Female Chefs Series: Hélène Darroze

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The Greenhouse

The Greenhouse

Over £80
Modern European
Two michelin stars
£30 - £49

27a Hay's Mews, London, W1J 5NY

It has sported two Michelin Stars since 2004, so expectations invariably run high at The Greenhouse. However, the arrival of new head chef Alex Dilling (ex-Hélène Darroze at The Connaught) has taken the set-up to a different level. Of course, some things never change: the sense of Zen-like calm as visitors arrive at this Mayfair “oasis” via a beautifully landscaped garden; the spacious and light dining room, and the highly professional attitude of the staff. What felt notably different, though, was the buzz – it was encouraging to see almost every table occupied on a midweek evening.

Dilling’s culinary approach involves sourcing the very best ingredients, combining them with an innovative flourish and presenting them beautifully. A super-soft yet deeply flavoursome smoked sturgeon mousse with crab and dill set the tone, and there were several high points to follow: we were bowled over by a breath-takingly original truffled egg concoction and a plate of Brittany turbot with boudin noir, girolles and young sorrel.

The vegetarian options also impressed, as did the wine pairings, drawn from one of London’s more voluminous lists (clocking in at 3,400+ bottles). On the downside, our A5 Gunma Wagyu beef was rather bland, and impatient diners may be troubled by the relatively long waits between courses. Still, The Greenhouse remains a bastion of serious fine dining – just be prepared to fork out handsomely.  

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Alyn Williams at The Westbury Hotel

Alyn Williams at The Westbury Hotel

£50 - £79
British
One michelin star

The Westbury Hotel, 37 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2YF

One fan reckons that Alyn Williams’ eponymous restaurant in the swanky Westbury Hotel is now “one of the best dining experiences in London” – a view backed by its current Michelin-star rating. While the dining room’s unashamedly fine panelling, whispers and plush soft furnishings aren’t everyone’s flute of fizz, Williams’ tirelessly creative and “beautifully presented” food is sure to impress. BBQ monkish in tomato beurre blanc is a revelation, seared rose veal comes dotted with caviar and cauliflower, and top-spec Kerry lamb is served blushing pink alongside grilled onion, pomme purée and water-mint hollandaise. This new-found confidence also extends to vegetarian dishes of sumac-dusted feta with apple and kohlrabi or celeriac risotto overlaid with summer truffle, as well desserts such as a witty passion fruit and mango pudding. Prices are surprisingly keen for the location, engaging staff are happy to aid navigation through the classy wine list, and readers rave about the “truly special” private room with its towering wine displays.

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Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

Over £80
French
Three michelin stars

The Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, London, W1K 1QA

The combination of a superstar name and three Michelin stars means that expectations are always sky-high at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester; in return, diners are treated to “an exercise in superlative service and presentation”, with hushed tones barely disturbing the reverential calm in the classic creamy-toned dining room – an “oasis of serenity” away from the bluster of Park Lane. Head chef Jean-Phillipe Blondet is his master’s voice, delivering a measured parade of profound and deeply flavoured dishes hinting at the “culinary genius” behind the scenes – just consider the “heavenly” sauté gourmand of lobster accompanied by homemade pasta and truffled chicken quenelles or the signature ‘contemporary’ vacherin with a coconut boule, pomegranate seeds and exotic fruits. In between, the ever-fabulous rib and saddle of venison with coffee sauce and a peanut-stuffed parsnip vies with fish classics such as fillet of turbot with beetroot and clams marinière or line-caught sea bass with braised chicory. Prices, as you’d expect of somewhere called Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, take no prisoners, and the platinum wine list promises a galaxy of French stars with hefty mark-ups – although fans still think that dining here is “time exceptionally well spent”.   

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Corrigan

Corrigan's Mayfair

£50 - £79
British

28 Upper Grosvenor Street, London, W1K 7EH

It’s hard to imagine Richard Corrigan seated in the restaurant that bears his name – at first glance, the blue-toned dining room and polished expanses seem too elegant to contain him. But there’s something of the chef’s robustness in a heartily seasonal menu, the odd visual pun and a chef’s trolley which might proffer shoulder of suckling pig or Dover sole meunière. Corrigan’s puts nature’s larder on the table in a way that suits “occasions when you want to be spoilt”. Influences are wide-ranging, so you might find chicken congee with scallop or roasted boneless quail with red curry and prawn toast ahead of perfectly timed Cornish cod with stuffed baby squid or one of the justly renowned game specialities: if you’re going to have hare in Mayfair, have it here, or try roast wild duck with pumpkin, celery and walnut. Presentation is appealing, but a fair distance from fussy – and the same can be said of a wine list grouped loosely by style.

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Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Over £80
British
French

68 Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4HP

“The top of Everest, the Roger Federer of fine dining” declares a fan of Gordon Ramsay’s three-Michelin-starred Chelsea flagship, adding that it’s “hands-down” the best place to eat in London. Former chef/patron Clare Smyth has moved on to open her own restaurant, Core in Notting Hill, but the kitchen is in safe hands under the stewardship of Matt Abé – a chef who has proved his worth as an alumnus of both Ramsay and Smyth. If proof were needed, consider the ever-delectable ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon (now enlivened with oxalis and sorrel), the pressed foie gras with green apple, turnips, watercress and smoked duck or roast pigeon pointed up with sweetcorn, lavender, honey and apricot. Vegetarians might be treated to gnocchi “as light as pillows of clouds”, while desserts are miracles of clarity and sweetness (a lemonade parfait with honey, bergamot and sheep’s milk yoghurt, for example). It’s all about consummate craftsmanship, combined with an acute eye for visual detailing. The dining room is cool and classy, with silky-smooth service to match, although it would be nothing without the gleeful attentions of genial overlord Jean-Claude Breton – a master orchestrator and a legend among maître d's. Like everything else at this gilded wow-inducing superstar, the staggeringly comprehensive wine list and the sommelier’s astute recommendations are “hard to beat”.

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Pollen Street Social

Pollen Street Social

£50 - £79
British
One michelin star

8-10 Pollen St, Mayfair, W1S 1NQ

Secreted beside a discreet Mayfair alleyway since 2011, Jason Atherton’s imperious Michelin-starred flagship, Pollen Street Social, remains “bang on the money” – a “masterpiece of fine dining” and a worthy winner of the SquareMeal Restaurant of the Year 2017. Step through the glass door and the good vibrations hit you straight away, while the clean-lined metropolitan dining room shows its cosmopolitan class with dramatic lampshades and eye-catching arty exhibits. Atherton may oversee a global empire these days, but he still puts in the shifts at PSS, and is often to be seen at the pass – a world-class hands-on restaurateur in his rightful place. Culinary influences and cross-fertilisation abound, but everything is underpinned by indigenous ingredients, from a witty Cockney riff involving smoked eel, buttermilk, beetroot reduction and jellied eel to South Downs fallow deer with pear, cocoa and chocolate vinegar or “staggeringly good” Lakeland lamb with beetroot, blackcurrant, savoy cabbage and a mini hotpot on the side – scintillating, exuberant food of the highest order, with maximum flavour delivering maximum satisfaction. To start, the ‘fruits of the British sea’ is a delirious array of maritime delights presented on a special stand – we love the oyster ice cream dressed with an oyster leaf, the lobster cocktail, and the Orkney scallop with pickled radish and jalapeño; to finish, the dessert bar promises close encounters with the likes of Brogdale pear sorbet, goats’ cheese ice cream, honey and bee pollen. Service plays it ‘social’ without ever losing its professional cool, and there are treasures galore on the ever-expanding wine list curated by the group’s whizz-bang sommelier Laure Patry. “Few places are such a treat” concludes one admirer of Pollen Street Social– amen to that. 

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