How to Spend it: The Best Food for £20 in London
Words: Kate O’Sullivan
£20. It’s enough money to make a dent in your wallet, but not enough to buy more than three drinks across much of London. That said, you can get some brilliant and exciting things for twenty quid in the capital’s restaurants and bars if you know where to look.
Got a wrinkly old twenty burning a hole in your pocket? Here’s how to spend it…
Lobster roll at Joe Allen
Chow down on a lobster brioche roll, complete with fries, at Covent Garden’s all-new Joe Allen, which has been painstakingly recreated just metres down the road from the site it originally occupied after it was forced to leave after more than 40 years.
Joe Allen, 2 Burleigh Street, WC2E 7PX
Two cocktails at Lyan Cub
At London cocktail legend Ryan Chetiyawardana’s latest bar (which replaces White Lyan), use your twenty quid to sample a couple of his quirky and creative concoctions. Perhaps start with a blend of smoked rye amazake, rhubarb vinegar and vodka, and follow up with his take on a Martini. It may just be two drinks, but Ryan has a way of really making them count.
Lyan Cub, 155 Hoxton Street, N1 6PJ
Cheese toastie and beer at The Wigmore
This new tavern-meets-restaurant overseen by Michel Roux Jr. whips up a decidedly epic cheese toastie — in terms of taste and size. The aptly-named XXL stovetop toastie comes in at £9, leaving budget for two (two-third) glasses of the house beer, a fruity saison made by Bermondsey’s Brew By Numbers.
The Wigmore, 15 Langham Place, W1B 3DE
Four tuna otoro nigiri at Cubé
It may not represent the most filling of meals, but the sushi at this new izakaya-style restaurant off Oxford Street is up there with the city’s best. The tuna otoro, made from the fatty belly of the fish, is the best bit and well worth the higher price compared with other options. Use that note to treat yourself – it’s much cheaper than a trip to Tokyo.
Cubé, 4 Blenheim Street, W1S 1LB
Roast beef at Hawksmoor
Your £20 goes particularly far at Hawksmoor on a Sunday, when it will fetch a plate of slow-roast rump with duck fat roast potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding, carrots, greens and lashings of bone marrow gravy.
Hawksmoor, various locations
Three-course dinner at Brasserie Zédel
It’s not easy to find a three-course dinner for under £20 slap bang in the centre of London — especially not one as good as this. Start with céleri rémoulade followed by confit de canard and île flottante (yep, that’s a floating island), all washed down with a glass of wine plus water and coffee for £19.95. Alternatively, there’s the choice of two courses for £9.95 or three without drinks for £12.95.
Brasserie Zédel, 20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED
A cocktail at London’s best bar
Currently ranked London’s best bar (and second in the world), The Savoy’s American Bar serves exquisite (if rather expensive) cocktails with old-school glamour and modern flair. A lot of them — including The Kentish Cob (made with rum, coffee, hazelnuts and vermouth) — are twenty quid on the nose. It’s worth splashing out for the sense of occasion.
The Savoy, The Strand, WC2R 0EU
Twenty oysters at Wright Brothers
Call in to Wright Brothers restaurant in Soho between noon and 6pm any day of the week to take advantage of its oyster happy hour, when each bivalve is just a pound a pop. If you don’t want to shell out your entire allowance on seafood, save 10 for a glass of English fizz to wash them down with.
Wright Brothers, 13 Kingly Street, W1B 5PW
Sunday roast (and a scotch egg) at The George & Dragon
When Maida Vale gastropub The Truscott Arms was forced to shut by rising rents, London lost one of its very finest Sunday roasts. Thankfully, chef Aidan McGee has now taken up residency at Fitzrovia’s The George & Dragon and is cooking up a weekly roast to rival it. Twenty quid will get you a roast pork lunch with epic crackling and enough left over for a scotch egg.
The George & Dragon, 151 Cleveland Street, W1T 6QN
Taco feast at Breddos
Not only are the meat- and fish-filled tacos at Breddos bloomin’ delicious, they’re also stunners when it comes to value. In exchange for that crumpled twenty, you can tuck into a masa fried chicken, baja fried fish, pig’s head cochinita pibil and beef rib eye taco before picking your favourite and going back for one more.
Breddos, 82 Goswell Road, EC1V 7DB
Bottomless brunch at Foxlow
Foxlow’s four sites in Balham, Chiswick, Clerkenwell and Soho all offer bottomless Bloody Marys for a bargainous £14.50 of a brunch time. There are several dishes available for a fiver or less, meaning your twenty quid will stretch to food and booze.
Foxlow, various locations
Seven pints at The Tankard
Yes, really. Well, so long as you can scrape together an extra 30p. Otherwise, you’ll have to stop at six and spend your savings on a foot-long scratching or two. This new Kennington craft beer pub from the Draft House crew has a daily cask beer available for just £2.90. See you there?
The Tankard, 111 Kennington Road, SE11 6SF
Two courses at Café Murano
She may be the doyenne of London’s restaurant scene and have a Michelin star under her belt, but at Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano you can still get two courses for £20 if you pop by at the right time. That means enjoying the likes of rigatoni with beef and pork meatballs, or a fillet of red gurnard with bagna cauda, along with either a starter or pudding, for £17.50 as part of the restaurant’s very flexibly timed theatre menu.
Café Murano, 36 Tavistock Street, WC2E 7PB
One fifth of an ice cream at Selfridges
You’re going to have to pool resources for this one because it is — quite frankly — ridiculous. Still, if you have five mates each with £20 and an equally strong desire to have a lick of Europe’s most expensive ice cream, then Selfridges is the place to go. The Billionaire’s Soft Serve from Snowflake Gelato features a gold leaf-coated flake, caramelised pecans and Belgian white chocolate truffles along with edible ‘diamonds’. At £99 a pop, you’d better be careful they don’t stick in your throat. Incidentally, £20 would get four of the brand’s ‘normal’ ice creams, should you rather…
Snowflake Gelato at Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB