Cheap eats

I love eating out and my favourite thing about London’s food scene is the variety you find when thinking of dinner plans. I think it’s pretty amazing how this city has delicious Indian and Pakistani food, great sushi, mouth-watering Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese food and sublime French, Italian and Spanish restaurants.

I decided to start a list of my favourite restaurants in London, where you can have a main course and feel satisfied, without spending more than £25 per person (excluding cocktails or pricey drinks). Here we go:

• Burger & Lobster: Having grown up by the sea, I have a natural love for all sorts of seafood. I also happen to have a small obsession with fat juicy burgers. It’s as if the brains behind Burger & Lobster read my mind when they came up with their concept! What I like about this restaurant is the fact that there are only three items on their menu: burger, lobster and lobster roll, all served with skinny fries and a green salad. You don’t need half an hour to decide what you’re going to eat. They are all equally priced at £20 each (excluding drinks and service). Their no reservation policy in most of their branches make their queues a bit long at dinner time but it’s definitely worth the wait. Some people argue that their burger is pricey but for the quantity and quality you get, I will have to disagree. It’s probably my favourite burger in London!

• Big Easy: Speaking of lobster, many of my friends prefer the one served at Big Easy and I would have either one any day. I don’t feel particularly strong about either one. I probably prefer the lemon garlic butter sauce at Burger & Lobster but they’re both still delicious. At Big Easy though, you have a much bigger menu with more options for anyone else not interested in either burger or lobster. What we normally do when we go to Big Easy is order the lobster though. We get their 2 pound lobster, served with fries and salad, as well as a drink each for £45 (excluding service). I highly highly highly recommend trying their classic frozen margaritas! They’re delicioso! Besides their amazing lobster, they also serve succulent ribs.

• Dishoom: A take on modern Indian cuisine, without leaving behind all the beautiful spices and flavours found in Indian food. I fell in love with black dhal and paneer after trying them at Dishoom. Since their portions are not very large, you can easily order a few dishes to share between each other, so that you get to try from everything. I’ve tasted most of the items on their menu and I can’t fault any of them. I would happily eat them all again any day. The best part is that you leave the restaurant not wanting to roll into bed, unlike the effect of most traditional Indian curry houses here in London. It’s definitely a good alternative to ‘lighter’ Indian cuisine. Don’t forget to try their interesting take on classic cocktails too. I personally love their Bollybellini! Oh and if you want to try them for breakfast, they serve bottomless creamy yet spicy chai, as well as bottomless porridge. Besides the porridge, their take on bacon bap is original: bacon naan! Now tell me you’re curious to try it!

• Saigon Saigon: I discovered Vietnamese food when I first went to Saigon Saigon and they set the bar really high. I haven’t been able to find a Vietnamese restaurant in London which serves nicer food! Their claypots are my favourite: perfectly caramelised yet still they leave a spicy kick which comes through a bit later. What I love about their food is the fact that it is not too salty and you really taste all the ingredients on the plate. The staff is also incredibly respectful. A must-visit if you’re near Hammersmith and Chiswick.

• Roast at Hawksmoor: Famous for their steaks, I have to specify that the only way I can list this restaurant here is if I clearly mention that you are having their Sunday roast. They only do roast beef, served with gravy, Yorkshire pudding, crunchy yet fluffy roast potatoes and carrots. All this for £19.5! Their portions are very generous and the food is exceptional. They serve one of my favourite steaks in London so my expectations of their roast rump was quite high. Let’s just say they did not disappoint. If you have room for dessert, you must try the Ambassador’s Reception. It definitely tastes as elegant and rich as it sounds!

• Flat Iron: Another no reservation restaurant but another worth the wait if you have time! They have two branches, both in Soho, within a 10 minute walk from one another. If you decide to go on a Saturday evening, be prepared to put your name down, wonder around and have a drink somewhere else and come back for your table. They serve flat iron steak, a cut of steak that’s normally left behind and not very popular amongst most people, yet not very expensive. The steak costs £10 then you pay for sides. For that price, I’d wait any night for a delicious and perfectly cooked piece of steak! Their wine list also has well-balanced and well-paired wines for the food they serve. Can’t wait to go back!

• Le Relais de Venise: Another steak place! You must think I’m the biggest red meat eater around. I don’t normally cook red meat at home so when I go out, I either have red meat or seafood. All they serve is a simple French green salad with a mustardy vinaigrette topped with walnuts to start, followed by your sliced steak and frites. The steak comes with their secret sauce, that even the chefs and waiters don’t know what it’s made of. Their set menu is for £24. They have a vegetarian option, which I have never tried and cannot recommend. Their cheese selection and desserts are also very tempting for those not watching their waistlines. The story behind the restaurant is very interesting. I love it because it takes me back to France every time I go!