Doing your bit to help the economy has never been easier…or tastier. Punters have been dining out on government discounts at restaurants and cafes throughout August and even top-end restaurants have been rushing to sign up.
Some Michelin starred establishments are offering the standard 50 per cent off – up to a maximum of £10 per diner – while others have created bespoke menus for it, meaning that you can grab a gourmet lunch for as little as £12 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
But quick – there’s just two weeks left to make the most of the bargains as the discounts end on August 31. Here are our favourite picks in London and beyond.
The Five Fields, Chelsea
Fresh, local fare is at the heart of this modern British eatery. Most of the items on your plate will have come straight from the restaurant’s kitchen garden in Sussex that very morning.
It’s tasting menu only and the line-up changes daily, giving the chefs the chance to show off their expertise and the most seasonal produce.
Clever use of foams, diagonally slanted saucers, and presentation that wouldn’t look out of place in the Tate Modern create all the fanfare and excitement you’d want when dining out in style. There’s usually around six or seven courses, plus an amuse bouche or two. All are perfectly sized to leave you on the right side of the satisfied/stuffed border.
Seasonal delights this summer are likely to include wild girolles mushrooms hidden within a cheesy foam and delicate slices of roe deer in a zingy blueberry sauce. Set back from the bustle of Chelsea’s Kings Road and with just a handful of tables, it’s a delightfully intimate spot.
A lunchtime tasting menu typically costs £80 at full price.
Hakkasan, Fitzrovia and Mayfair
The low-lit underground interior of London’s most upmarket Cantonese restaurant gives you the sensation of entering a 19th century opium den.
Every dish feels as though it has been perfectly planned – from the placement of each dimple of dim sum within their bamboo nests to the way the hibiscus juice seems to erupt out of its strawberry cream shell when you dig your spoon in. The stars of the show – the buttery scallop and prawn dumplings – melt away in your mouth, leaving you desperate for more.
Hakkasan’s chefs spend much of their time sourcing only the highest quality ingredients and it’s a great place to try hard-to-find specialities, such as silver cod and Prunier caviar.
The group has two London outposts – one by Tottenham Court Road tube station, the other near Berkeley Square – and each with a Michelin star to their name.
Hakkasan Hanway is offering EOTHO on Wednesdays only, while the Mayfair restaurant is providing it on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The offer covers both their a la carte and set menus. The waiters and sommelier really know their stuff, so definitely ask for recommendations on what to try and wines to pair it with.
Social Eating House, Mayfair
Michelin star chef Jason Atherton – a regular on television programmes such as Saturday Kitchen – has crafted a special lunchtime menu for the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme costing just £12 for two courses.
With a bistro on the bottom floor, cocktail bar on the first and exclusive tables at the chef’s counter in the kitchen, his Mayfair restaurant is a Mecca for foodies.
The ingredients on the set menu are understandable to the average diner – an unusual but comforting find in establishments of this calibre. Featuring dishes such as slow-cooked chicken with thyme hasselback potatoes, the vibe is very much hearty pub grub with a high-end twist.
If you want to go the whole hog, try the Chef Experience menu. For £95 you get seven courses and the chance to watch the chefs work their magic in the kitchen.
Make sure to try one of the signature cocktails while you wait for your food. Pooh’s Hunny Pot, a decadent mix of dark rum, mead, orange blossom and honeycomb, would perk up even Eeyore.
Hide, Green Park
With an enormous, intricately carved spiral staircase and glass windows overlooking Green Park, Hide is a spectacular spot from which to watch the sun set over London.
The discounted set dinner menu on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays costs just £38 for three courses, with specialities including fresh burrata with juicy plums and roasted Cornish cod with potted shrimps. The lunchtime offering is even cheaper, with a similar menu for £28.
The restaurant also has one of the best wine stores in the capital thanks to its partnership with Hedonism Wines, Mayfair’s premier boutique for fine wines and spirits. Any bottle available in the shop can be reserved and delivered to the restaurant to accompany your meal. Corkage is £10.
Murano, Green Park
Getting a little taste of Venice in the heart of London just got a lot cheaper. Angela Hartnett’s award-winning eatery is doing a two-course lunch for £20 and three for £25. The pasta is famous among London’s gastronomes. This month’s seasonal variation is the swiss chard ravioli stuffed with oozy ricotta.
The restaurant avoids the stuffiness that usually accompanies haute cuisine. It also has sister cafes, with the same great food and relaxed atmosphere – although sadly no Michelin star – in St James’s, Covent Garden and Bermondsey. A two-course lunch in the cafes costs just £10 on ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ days.
Restaurant Interlude, West Sussex
All the ingredients at Interlude are foraged or grown on the 240-acre estate of Grade I-listed woodlands, lakes and gardens within which the restaurant sits.
Diners enter via the stone portico of the 19th century mansion at Leonardslee and are led through to the opulent dining hall.
Sitting among damask wallpapers, chandeliers and marble fireplaces, you’ll feel like the lord of the estate – albeit just for one night. The menu is incredibly creative with a heavy focus on the local landscape. Don’t be surprised to find a sunny hen’s egg swaddled within a clump of moss or a crunchy acorn perched atop a creamy mousse.
The mind-boggling selection of wines includes many from owner Penny Streeter’s vineyards, one just three miles away in Sussex and the other in Walker Bay, South Africa.
The restaurant has just 10 tables, so bookings are highly sought-after.
The Bybrook, Cotswolds
The village of Castle Combe oozes chocolate-box Cotswold charm, so make the most of your visit by booking a night’s stay. The Bybrook restaurant itself – a major hotspot for epicures in the area – is located inside a boutique hotel and golf club dating back to the 14th century.
Its honey-coloured stone walls are covered in ivy and crowned by turrets, with the dining room windows giving out over pristine lawns.
The tasting menu costs £75 for four courses and £95 for six. Expect traditional British cooking with delicate twists, for example local Wiltshire lamb doused in black garlic and Suffolk’s take on Brie, Baron Bigod cheese, smothered in honey from the hotel’s estate and paired with black truffle and a savoury scone.