Get more bang for your buck – especially when you’re booking in to one of London’s higher end restaurants – by opting for the set menu this autumn.
Once frowned upon as a watered down, poor man’s version of the à la carte, set menus have come a long way from shrimp cocktail and a dried out chicken and veg combo. There are some incredible ones being served up on London’s restaurant scene, from some of the five-star luxury hotels to in-the-know haunts loved by the foodie set.
Book in for seasonal fare and understated cool at Noble Rot where the set menu is priced at just £18 and is ever-changing (an easy excuse for a return visit) or tick another one off your London restaurant bucket list with Michelin starred menus at The Ritz and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, both coming in at under £65.
Plus, many of London’s top set menus are only available at lunch making them the perfect option to be home in plenty of time for the 10pm curfew.
If you like your meals with a side of seriously good views, head to London Bridge and one of the capital’s most recognisable buildings, The Shard. Here you’ll find Aqua Shard with its choice of daytime and nighttime sets, depending on whether you want your view looking over a toy town London or a lit up London by night.
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For daytime bookings try the Market Menu at £29 per person for two courses and £34 per person for three – very reasonable given the epic location. The menu is seasonal and based on the à la carte, but expect delights in the realms of cauliflower and hazelnut soup; smoked aubergine with apple puree, spiced cream and black truffle; before finishing off with the restaurant’s famous chocolate and toffee tart.
For evening bookings, the Sunset Menu offers just about the prettiest vista you’re going to get in London as the city turns from daytime to a sea of twinkling lights. It’s priced at £39 for three courses and includes a more extensive menu, from quail and duck terrine to roasted lamb saddle with onion puree, smoked ham and reform sauce. We hear the retro Ambrosial pie, a traditional and often forgotten British dish, is delicious for pudding.
The Market Menu is priced at £29 per person for two courses and £34 per person for three.
The Sunset Menu is priced at £39 for three courses.
For a spot of dining decadence just a stone’s throw from some of London’s most iconic sites, from Downing Street to Parliament, Trafalgar Square to the Embankment of the Thames, head to The Northall at The Corinthia.
Here you’ll find a weekly changing set menu – two course for £20 and three for £25 – with the following; smoked haddock velouté served with a poached egg and seaweed to start; rolled chicken with stuffed ricotta and herbs for main; and a pistachio and chocolate tart with pistachio ice cream to finish.
The menu maybe a neat one, but it’ll save you time trying to choose.
Set menu is priced at £20 for two and £25 for three.
The rt, Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2BD
Book in for the hotel restaurant’s Riverview Menu – three courses for £30 – and start off with Loch Duart salmon tartar, black garlic mayonnaise and garlic chive; followed by seared skirt steak, herbs and braised lentil; and an epic chocolate brownie to end.
Make a pitstop at neighbouring bar, Lyaness, post-dinner for some of the best cocktails you’ll find in the capital.
Riverside Menu is priced at £30 for three courses.
Sea Containers London, 20 Upper Ground , South Bank, London SE1 9PD
The newly refurbed and utterly Instagrammable COYA at Angel Court is a must-visit if you’re after a vibrant atmosphere and a rainbow-hued feast of delicious dishes. There’s a definitely party vibe at the Peruvian restaurant come evening – not helped by the moreish Pisco Sours – so book in for a tamer and cheaper lunchtime slot instead.
Priced at £31 per person, choose two starters such as Atún Chifa – that’s yellowfin tuna, soy, sesame and a shrimp cracker; and Anticucho de Pollo – chicken with aji amarillo and garlic. Followed by a main served with rice of salad, from marinated cod to beef Picanha steak.
The menu is rounded off with a choice of two desserts, either the Leche con Canela – cinnamon crème brûlée with soursop and apple; or the Tacos Dulces con Mango – white chocolate cream, mango and passion fruit. Yum.
There's a definitely party vibe at the Peruvian restaurant come evening - not helped by the moreish Pisco Sours - so book in for a tamer and cheaper lunchtime slot instead.
Head to the lofty heights of Hutong in the iconic Shard building for some of the best Chinese food in the capital, jaw-dropping views and chic interiors.
Come evening, dinner can rack up in price but their lunchtime Experience Menu is priced at a very reasonable £39 per person. For that you’ll get an eight plate selection of their finest signature dishes, including lobster dumpling with Sichuan chilli sauce; fried cuttlefish with crispy garlic; wok-tossed beef tenderloin with green chilli; sides and a mango pudding for dessert.
The Experience Menu is priced at £39 per person.
Hutong, The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG
When you’re short on time and don’t have bottomless pockets, head to the Flesh & Buns flagship store on Berners Street, just off Oxford Circus for the Express Lunch and Pre/Post Theatre Menus that come in at just £22 for two courses.
Pay £2 more and you’ll get three courses – it’s a no brainer.
And just because the menu is quick and more affordable doesn’t mean you need to miss out on some of their signature dishes, from a mix of their delicious and fresh ceviche to the crispy pork or duck leg steamed buns. The Nutella croissant Tai Yaki with cherry soft serve ice cream are a must-order too.
The Express Lunch and Pre/Post Theatre Menu is priced at £22 for two courses or £24 for three.
Flesh & Buns Oxford Circus, 32 Berners Street, London W1T 3LR
A favourite with London’s in-the-know foodie set, Noble Rot is all about understated dishes, fine produce, seasonal fair and great wine. The set lunch is priced at £18 for two courses and £22 for three and trust us, it will become a firm favourite with just one booking.
Tuck into an ever-changing menu depending on the season. Current dishes range from a smoked mackerel and potato salad to warming Toulouse sausage, lentils and mustard to comforting apple crumble and custard.
Autumn Set Lunch is priced at £18 for two courses, £22 for three.
Noble Rot Soho, 2 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4NB
You can still put on the ritz at a more frugal price point and enjoy the Michelin starred delights of this London institution. Book in for either the Saturday and Sunday Set Menu Lunch or the Pre Theatre Dining Menu, both priced at £62.50, for a meal you won’t forget.
Dishes include delicate Langoustine Á La Nage and Bronze Fennel; Bresse Duck with Smoked Beetroot and Blackberry and a sweet Cherry Soufflé with Kirsch Chantilly. A great excuse to get dressed up and be home well before the curfew.
With a history that spans over 150 years and one of the most unique interiors of any London restaurant (it started life out as a butchers and still holds its Grade II listed charm), The Quality Chop House is one of our firm favourites. Note; this is one for foodies, not fusspots.
For a more affordable (and less meaty) way to sample the menu, book in for the Set Lunch – two courses for £24 and three for £28.
Start with devilled sprats and malt vinegar mayonnaise or Mangalitza bacon with burnt apple and chicory. Move on to Cornish mackerel, aioli and sea aster; Galloway mince on dripping toast or the Middle White chop.
Finish with a pud of Capezzana olive oil ice cream; Gubbeen with crab apple and crackers or retro rice pudding with fig jam and a hazelnut crumb.
The Set Lunch is price at £24 for two courses and £28 for three.
The Quality Chop House, 88-94 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3EA
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Three courses of three-star Michelin fare and wine pairing for £65? Surely too good to be true. Not if you book in for lunch at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester on Park Lane. Considered one for London’s finest restaurants, the very reasonable three-course menu includes two specifically paired wines, coffee or tea and half a bottle of water.
Dishes range from marinated sea bream, pomegranate and tender herbs to rump of lamb with tiny potatoes and caramelised onion and a Parisian chocolate dessert with peanut. All, you can rest assured, are fantastic.
The Set Lunch is priced at £65 for three courses with wine.
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, 53 Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA
You will not be disappointed with Isabel, Mayfair when it comes to the interiors. Every inch exudes opulence, from the mirror walls to the glistening central bar with white-jacketed bartenders – it feels like stepping back to a golden age of glamour.
Book in during the week, Monday to Friday, for the Set Lunch Menu – two courses for £29 or three for £39.
With an imaginative menu inspired by traditional Latin and Mediterranean cuisines, you won’t know whether to Instagram the food or the walls first.
The Set Lunch Menu is available Monday – Friday, two courses for £29 or three for £39.
Isabel, 26 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4HY
Stunning interiors meets Michelin-starred Scandinavian cuisine at this critically-acclaimed restaurant that started life out in New York. Now with a respected outpost here in London, you can get more bang for your buck by booking in for their Set Lunch Menu – two courses for £29 or three courses for £32.
Currently, you can choose from starters of parsnip soup, buckwheat and parsley or Nordic salad with cured salmon, iceberg, dill and rye.
Move on to either the salmon burger with vasterbotten cheese, tomato, lettuce and pickled cucumber or the braised OX cheeks, Jerusalem artichoke, wild garlic and jus. Plus, a range of Scandi-inspired desserts.
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If you thought set menus lacked flair and only offered a watered down approach to quality restaurants, you haven’t tried Muse by Tom Aikin’s Set Lunch Menu, priced at £50.
The experience-led, fine dining restaurant is set in an intimate 25-cover converted mews house, and the menus, whichever you choose, are inspired by nostalgia and the pivotal moments and key people from Tom’s personal life and career.
From the Set Lunch, expect courses titled “Forever Picking” – snacks inspired by the seasons or “Just One More Barbecue” – dishes eluding to the flavours and techniques of traditional BBQ.
We guarantee a thoroughly memorable meal.