London’s eating habits are changing. Facing attacks from tapas, sharing plates and street food, the traditional three-course meal is on the retreat. Fortunately, there’s a much more satisfying way to keep all those courses: the tasting menu. Forget about agonising over whether to go for your favourite dish or a gamble on a wildcard – a tasting menu brings you the restaurant’s best dishes without you having to decide. And, if nothing else, a tasting menu is the only time when eating ten courses is totally acceptable. Here are our very favourite tasting menus.
What: Highly respected Michelin-starred restaurant
Why: Hailed as the best value tasting menu in London, Pied à Terre’s lunch menu offers two Michelin-starred courses for an amazing £29.50. But for the culinary curious, there’s so much more on offer. The chef’s menu (£145) transforms locally sourced, seasonal produce into ten creative and playful dishes, with some superb sommeliers at hand to provide an optional (£90, but seriously, it’s not optional – you’ve got to try it) wine flight. And for one week only, founding partner Richard Neat is returning with a one-off tasting menu to celebrate the restaurant’s 25th birthday. Here’s to another 25…
Where: 34 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 2NH
What: Next-level Indian feasting
Why: In a country still madly in love with Indian food, Gymkhana occupies the much-contested place at the head of the table. No-one does Indian food better. And the best way to sample Gymkhana’s brilliant interpretations of the cuisine is through the tasting menu. At £70 for seven courses (£125 with wine pairing), it’s remarkably good value for Michelin-starred food. Expect fiery, powerful dishes like Black Pepper Fish Tikka with Lasooni tomato chutney and Wild Boar Vindaloo.
Where: 42 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, W1S 4JH
What: Excellent food in one of London's most iconic dining rooms
Why: Set in the stunning dining room within the St Pancras Hotel, The Gilbert Scott has a reputation for serving up high-end European fare with serious flair. But they also offer something a little more unusual. The Chef’s Table (£79 for five courses, £95 for seven), a table set in the heart of the kitchen. Peace is provided by walls of wine, giving you all the intimacy of private dining with the buzz of a proper kitchen. The chef’s table offers a fantastic view of the kitchen, so you can watch as some seriously skilled chefs prepare your food. If you want to get up close and personal with culinary masters, this is a fantastic choice.
Where: The Gilbert Scott, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, London, NW1 2AR
What: New Zealand restaurant with an expansive wine list
Why: The Providores is a fine dining restaurant without the faff. Hailing from New Zealand, the founders have stocked this place with fantastic vino – but the food more than matches up. Try four courses for £60 or five for £70 – but whatever you do, make sure you try at least one of their inventive desserts. Treacle cure bacon ice cream with olive meringue and black sesame sponge with matcha custard are just two of the treats in store…
Where: 109 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone, W1U 4RX
What: Superb Chinese food in the City
Why: Part of the gilded Hakkasan family of Alan Yau, HKK is the streamlined, City-focused outpost with a fantastic set of tasting menus. For £88, you can gorge yourself on ten fragrant, exquisitely crafted dishes, like slow-cooked veal with brown jasmine rice, black bean and goji berry, delectable dim sum and – the centrepiece – cherry wood roasted Peking duck. You won’t look at Chinese food in the same way again.
Where: 88 Worship Street, Broadgate Quarter, Bishopsgate, EC2A 2BE
What: Modern, no-nonsense diner with top cooking
Why: Nabbing a Michelin star a mere months after opening, Dabbous – created by Ollie Dabbous, named by The Guardian as London’s hottest chef – serve up top-notch dishes made with the very best ingredients. The no-frills, food-centric ethos is best experienced through the tasting menu. Eight punchy courses are yours for £75. Indulge in dishes like pulled veal breast with white asparagus and cool down with chilled lemon verbena infusion, cucumber & perilla.
Where: 35 Whitfield Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 2SF
We also recently reviewed The Frog’s tasting menu – check out what we thought here.
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