London has a tonne of options when it comes to excellent, good value food. But when it comes to excellent, good value food in a restaurant that feels, well, decidedly quite fancy - then things become a little more difficult. Enter: the set menu. Not the set menu of rejected pantry items, a lone prawn here experimentally paired with a leftover scoop of piccalilli there, but courses specially made, and thought about and most importantly, completely delicious. All for less than £30.
Two or three course daily changing set menu: £18/22
The longstanding gold standard of set lunches, Noble Rot have taken London’s best deal - find us a better one, we dare you - over to their second restaurant on Greek Street. If you’ve got £20 knocking about this is where you spend it. Not just because it’s one of London’s best restaurants, but because unless your surname is Roux, you won’t get a better value fancy-ish restaurant cooking anywhere else in London. The set lunch menus change daily at both restaurants, but expect lovely, light touch things like braised chicken leg with beans and aioli, or poached trout and beetroot salad, before finishing with some kind of tart, and - of course - a glass of something.
Two course BBQ or dim sum set menu: £28
A whole peking duck will set you back three figures at Imperial Treasure, one of London’s fanciest (and truly most fantastic) Cantonese restaurants, but at lunch time there are a couple of far more reasonable options. Firstly there’s the BBQ option, which includes a marinated beef shank as well as a hot and sour soup before moving onto the main event: Cantonese roasted duck. That said, we’d be more inclined to go for the dim sum menu. Imperial Treasure doesn’t make dim sum so much as they craft it, and any menu with char siu pork cheung fun is a big fat yes from us. Sure, it’s not the most atmospheric place, but you won’t care once you’re chewing on their superb prawn and pork siu mai.
Two course menu du jour: £29.50
Any restaurant that features a headless gold statue doesn’t exactly scream accessible, good value or, perhaps, good taste, but Kerridge’s actually has all three. The fact we once saw Harry Redknapp dining here only confirms that. The two-course menu du jour changes but can (as at the time of writing) feature courses like a roasted tomato soup with basil pesto and focaccia, sugar pit bacon rib with a fried egg and posh ketchup, plus a strawberry meringue fool and ice cream. A solid crowd-pleasing option for a solid crowd-pleasing restaurant.
Two or three course set menu: £22/25
There’s no lack of restaurant options in Shoreditch, but Leroy is up there with the best. The lowkey wine bar and restaurant offers a Thursday and Friday changing set menu with dishes like asparagus, courgette and parmesan risotto, or a crunchy plate of baby turnips with whipped goats curd. Paired with a glass of something similarly chilled and crunchy, it’s the kind of restaurant and set menu that says Summer Fridays to us.
Two or three course set menu: £18/21.50
With three courses for £21.50, the Kudu set lunch is almost suspiciously good value. Almost. But the thing to know is the T&Cs. It’s only available on Thursdays and Fridays and from midday to 2:30pm. You’ll have a choice of South African-leaning snacks and plates, like Kalahari-spiced biltong or peri peri duck hearts, as well as bigger dishes like confit sea trout with a roe velouté. Which sounds quite fancy-schmancy, doesn’t it?