Fine dining on a budget
Published 31 January 2019

Jör, Credit: Tom Kahler

With Christmas bills looming, January can seem a very grey month. The good news is that you can still eat out well without breaking the bank. Here are some top restaurants offering three-course lunches for £30 or less. Surely that’s reason enough to celebrate?

Kitchen W8, Kensington, London
Discreetly positioned just off Kensington High Street, this smart, grown-up neighbourhood restaurant serves fine-tuned modern European dishes with a keen eye on the seasons. A typical lunch during the winter might begin with a raviolo of game, crushed pumpkin and yellow chanterelles, followed by roast fillet of pork, celeriac, apple and glazed hispi cabbage. The set lunch is £25 for two courses, but you’ll inevitably pay the extra £3 for a dessert of, say, warm vanilla beignets, lemon curd and white chocolate cream. The same good-value set menu is available early evening, Monday to Friday for a little extra. kitchenw8.com

Jeremy’s, Haywards Heath, West Sussex
Although the verdant setting of Grade II-listed Borde Hill Garden on the outskirts of Haywards Heath makes alfresco lunches on the terrace at Jeremy’s a must in the warmer months, this contemporary restaurant (below) makes a splendid venue year round. Much of the seasonal produce on the menus comes from the Victorian walled garden and the bargainous set lunch (three courses £29; or £24
for two) is also available Tuesday to Thursday evenings. Expect the likes of quail, grape chutney and swede followed by venison with smoked potato, cabbage and sloe gin. Apple flapjack with kumquat and almond adds a final flourish. jeremysrestaurant.co.uk

Jöro, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
A restaurant constructed from refurbished shipping containers by a busy main road close to Sheffield’s old industrial area might not seem the most obvious setting for a fine dining experience, but Jöro is one of Yorkshire’s go-to venues. From the open-view kitchen (left and below), Luke French and his team send out refined dishes conjured from ingredients so hyper-local and seasonal that the menu can change between lunch and dinner. Considering the quality of the cooking in dishes such as Loch Duart salmon, English wasabi and yuzu; barbecued Moss Valley pork belly with hoisin sauce; or poached Goosnargh chicken, broccoli and lovage, the set lunch menu is a steal at £29 for three courses (or two courses for £23). Many of the dishes can also be adapted for vegetarians. jororestaurant.co.uk

The Walnut Tree, Llanddewi Skirrid, Monmouthshire
In the foothills of the Black Mountains, two miles east of Abergavenny, this former inn opened as a destination dining venue in the 60s where Italian chef Franco Taruschio ran it for the next three decades. These days, it’s run by the influential chef Shaun Hill, who has more than 50 years’ experience working in professional kitchens. The elegant rusticity of the dining room is matched by the ingredient-driven seasonal cooking (above) and the set lunch menu is a snip at £30 for three courses (or £25 for two). A meal might start with pork cromesqui, lentils and salsa verde, followed by pheasant with mushroom and chestnut sauce. A zesty lemon meringue tart with vanilla ice cream could bring things to a reassuringly retro finish. thewalnuttreeinn.com

Social Eating House, Soho, London
With its neon signs and artfully distressed look, the Soho outpost of Jason Atherton’s restaurant empire suits the location perfectly. The set lunch (also fleetingly available between 6-6.30pm, Monday to Friday) offers good value at £26.50 for three courses, although if you sample the cocktails on the menu, the final bill could mount up. From the braised Buccleuch Estate beef cheek with horseradish mash to the Cornish cod fillet, brown shrimps and chicken and herb sauce, the food is comforting and big-flavoured. End with a dessert of pineapple carpaccio, spiced lime and ginger syrup with coconut sorbet. socialeatinghouse.com

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