Last week I told you how to spend 48 hours in London. This is all well and good I hear you say, but how do I eat and drink without breaking the bank?
It’s true that London is known as one of the world’s most expensive cities, but amazingly, you can still eat well, and save quite a lot of money at the same time, by being diligent, keeping your eyes and ears open, and thereby saving yourself a pretty penny!
- HAVE BREAKFAST: If you’re in a hotel, B&B (bed and breakfast), or a good hostel, do exactly that. Have a lovely, large breakfast. Britain is famously known for it’s morning meals.
As breakfast, Britain has kedgeree (with origins in India). Kedgeree was very popular in Victorian times and is a mixed breakfast dish of smoked haddock, rice and hard-boiled eggs, Scottish porridge (with a dash of whisky for cold days), the all-day breakfast or the full English breakfast known as “a fry up.”
A full English breakfast generally consists of slices of toast, rashers of bacon, fried sausages, fried mushrooms, fried or scrambled eggs, fried tomatoes, black pudding, and a dollop of baked beans, accompanied by ketchup or HP brown sauce! It could also sometimes involve hash browns or a portion of chips!
London is flushed with gastro pubs and fancy restaurants. Skip all that and go for an even more authentic touch of a “greasy spoon” otherwise known as a local cafe. Go local and try breakfast there. I was able to have fried egg and toast and a mug of “workman’s tea for just £3.10. Many places have breakfast before 11:00 a.m. and for under £4.00.
If you’re really vigilant, you can find some places charging just £1.50!
- GET YOURSELF A SANDWICH: Legend has it that “sandwiches” existed over 2,000 year ago however, an English aristocrat is credited with making the word “sandwich” popular.
In 1762, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, asked for meat to be served between slices of bread, in order not to disturb a gambling game of cards. From then on, people started to ask for “the same as Sandwich!”
In Britain, pretty much every shop, supermarket and pub, will sell you a large variety of wonderful sandwiches, spanning from an egg and cheese sandwich to a chicken and chorizo one. I usually get myself a lovely prawn and cocktail sandwich, but this time I had a British outdoor – bred Wiltshire cured ham hock, and extra mature Barber’s West Country cheddar cheese sandwich, covered by sweet, tangy onion, and ale chutney and mayonnaise, accompanied by a mixture of spinach and rocket salad!
Sandwiches are a staple!
If you went to a supermarket and took the “meal deal” which includes a sandwich pack, a packet of crisps or potato chips, and a soft drink, lunch would generally not cost more than £4.30!
- HAVE A “CITY” LUNCH: Many restaurants that happen to be located in the “city” have specially-priced lunches. You can find them in the banking, finance and shopping districts.
I decided to go to Mayfair.
For those of you who don’t know, Mayfair is in one of the most exclusive real estate, residential and shopping areas in London, as well as the largest concentration of five-star hotels, global corporate head-quarters and prominent embassies!
I had the “bar lunch” on the mezzanine level next to the cocktail bar, which was a main course and a glass of wine for £10.00!
I ordered the Quaglino’s Fish and Chips with a small turret of mushy peas-mint sauce, a small turret of tartar sauce, half a lemon, and a glass of white wine.
The bill with a service charge of 12.5% turned out to be only £11.25!
- SPLASH OUT ON A FANCY DINNER: For the month of January and February, twenty-two fine dining / top London restaurants offered specially-priced menus from only £15.00. Sponsored by the London Evening Standard newspaper, which believed that everyone could afford to eat at the best places, for only a fraction of the cost. The offer was a set-priced two course lunch or dinner including wine, for £15.00, a set-priced two course lunch or dinner including a glass of champagne, for £20.00 or £25.00 per person!
I decided to reserve a table at the French Restaurant: Le Pont De La Tour.
Le Pont De La Tour is a traditional French Restaurant that combines Parisian chic with a modern twist, and fabulous views of Tower Bridge, the River Thames, and the London Skyline. I had made a reservation for a table as close to the riverside terrace as possible, as it was too cold to actually have dinner on the terrace. The restaurant happily obliged.
The service was impeccable.
I had picked the restaurant because the end of my city of London walking tour was on the other side of Tower Bridge. I arrived a little early and was offered the possibility to have a drink at the bar so I ordered Japanese beer! At 6 p.m. sharp, I was welcomed again, and escorted to my seat which was the exact table that I had requested: the inner terrace with a view of Tower Bridge.
The French and Italian waiters were very obliging and helpful, and made me feel extremely welcome, as I was on my own. The meal I picked was the Evening Standard Meal Special – a set-priced two course dinner including a glass of champagne – for a stupendous price of £20.00!
I had raviolo of braised beef, buttered spinach, and horseradish velouté for my first course, accompanied by fresh, home-made rice-flour-potato bread, and a small platter of butter.
Roasted pheasant breast, chou farcie, parsnip puree, and wild mushroom sauce for my second course,
and a lovely glass of bubbly champagne.
They even gave me a plate of petit fours.
On the house.
How nice of them!
The servings were timely and the meals were served hot, and even though these prices were economical, the service wasn’t. I really had a good, comfortable time!
And the damage?
One glass of Japanese beer, two courses, a glass of champagne and a service charge of 12.5%, came to a fabulous cost of £27.56.
So for two days in London a total cost of £46.22 (including the service charge)! That’s £23.11, and therefore less than £25.00 per day!
For more information contact: The Ritz London hotel.
For more information contact: Quaglino’s. You can enjoy a selection of light snacks and quick lunch dishes from Monday to Saturday for only £10.00, with a glass of wine, at the bar.
For more information contact: Le Pont De La Tour. Enjoy a set-price 2 course lunch or dinner for £15, £20, or £25 per person, whilst looking at fabulous views of the River Thames and London’s Tower Bridge.
For more information contact: London Evening Standard. For specially selected meals, go out and enjoy London with various restaurant offers, at a great selection of leading restaurants.
No voucher or registration details are necessary.
Just reserve your table online or make a telephone reservation. Three course meals are also available and the offer is valid until 23rd February (excluding Valentine’s Day), 2014.
This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my absolute own.
You don’t have to be afraid of London prices, as you now know the secret to by-passing the cost!
Look for specially selected menus for specific times of the day, or times of the year.
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Have you ever had an English breakfast? Have you been to a fine dining restaurant in London? What do you think of my guide of how to eat and drink for under £25 or $30 a day (including the service charge), in London!! Have your say!
See you in Berlin.