Bistro restaurants - excellent value for money, for example two-course lunch for £6.90; dinner for £7.90; three-course lunch for £9.90 and dinner for £10.90. Delicious Mediterranean food and good, quick, informal service.
3 branches: 1 on Southampton Street, 1 on Beak Street and 1 on Frith Street.
Molecular gastronomy in Tokyo. It's no surprise that one of Tokyo's most expensive hotels should have a good restaurant or two, but it's perhaps less usual to head to such hotels for fun dining. So hats off for not taking themselves too seriously in their Molecular Tapas Bar, which offers just two sittings per evening for seven people per sitting.
Around 25 courses are served with liquid nitrogen, syringes, glass plates and steel menus to the fore. Each dish is explained, prepared in front of you and the emphasis is on having a laugh and enjoying the experience. A visit last week included dishes such as 'red', 'cappuchino candy floss', a brilliant homemade mozzarella, 'cucumber caviar' and a beer with a Yakult froth tasting. Great fun and at £60 a head, it's terrific value - maybe for a last night in the city. Somehow Tokyo seems the perfect setting for high-tech cuisine.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Chuo-ku,Tokyo
03 3270 8800 www.mandarinoriental.co.jp
Wonderful, undoubtedly one of the top Indian restaurants that Lille has to offer. Delicious food, friendly service, fabulously modern-yet-cosy decor... all amount to a lovely and memorable experience. Also a very trendy bar in the basement.
Address: 38, Rue Thiers - 59000 Lille
Telephone: 03 20 21 02 66
For budget meals, there are lots of roadside stalls and tiny shops scattered through Tirana selling cheap, delicious – and mostly traditional – food. Try the byrek or lakror for a few hundred Lek (meat, cheese or spinach filled pastries) or the amazing rotisserie chickens.
At a time when so many hotels no longer include breakfast, St. Martins in the Fields is truly a bargain. This church is slap bang in the centre right beside Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. The cafe hidden in the crypt does a full English breakfast with tea/coffee for a mere £6.50. A bargain!
If you like your meals healthy and are on a tight budget, Greens and Beans is the place for you. This small but friendly place offers fresh organic vegetarian meals at great prices!
Churchills has got to be the best value Thai kitchen in London, delicious menu at £6 a main, in a great traditional pub that is regularly voted the Capital's best.
Walk it off down nearby Portobello market then head to the funkiest, friendliest little space at NHAC - groovy Brasilian beats (after-carnival was great) in a really creative environment - top Saturday in Notting Hill!
Tube to Notting Hill Gate, NHAC directly opposite (go early) and Churchills on Kensington Church St, adjacent.
This is a great Mediterranean restaurant that is right beside Finchley Central tube. It does a great two-course deal for lunch (£7) and just £2 more for dinner. Great value with options for fish (tuna steak, salmon, seafood pasta), meat (eg lamb shank, spicy minced lamb) and veg (eg moussaka). It's run by Turkish people but there is more variety than your normal one. Wine isn't fantastic but beer is Efes.
There isn't a huge number of options in this area of Ballards Lane but this is definitely the best value (and actually the best food) around there.
Battasy, 26 Ballards Lane, London N3 2BJ, England
I'm definitely more of an urban type and enjoy a regular matinee screening at the Barbican cinema followed by noodles in Smithfield.
Sometimes though, I enjoy a trip to Harrow-on-the-Hill, especially in the autumn.
My partner, who lives there, gave me a guided tour one weekend. We strolled upwards about 10 minutes from the tube (Metropolitan Line), past the famous Harrow school, to St Mary's Church on Church Hill. The atmospheric churchyard is where Lord Byron sought inspiration. We cut down a dark passage through the trees leading from the gravestones into an open area which had amazing views across London.
Another short walk back to the church and down the High Street and we were at The Castle Inn pub. We had lunch on the lovely garden terrace, where some windfall apples had fallen on the ground around our feet.
Castle Inn pub on 30 West Street (020 8422 3155)
Apple and Noi, two local women, run this extremely friendly guesthouse. The accommodation itself is quite basic, but even if you choose not to stay, make sure you go along for a meal - the food is the best we had in Thailand. Not only that, but Noi runs entertaining cookery courses (lasting the best part of the day, costing about £15) which will teach you how to make such dishes yourself.
This is a great gastropub for a number of reasons. Decor-wise it's like any other gastropub with wooden tables and chairs and a general unpretentious feel to it, yet it offers imaginative food at a decent price. Starters range from seared chicken livers, roast onion and black pudding (£5) to oysters (£6) and mains are also varied, my favourite being the salt marsh lamb with curly kale, minted chick pea and cauliflower puree (£15.95).
The kitchen is at one end of the room creating a warm and engaging atmosphere, and the service is unobtrusive. By far the best on the menu is the death by chocolate pudding - perhaps shared between two to avoid the death bit. Highly recommended, especially if you happen to be in the Ealing/Chiswick area.
222 South Ealing Road, W5 4RL
020 8758 1879
Nearest tube South Ealing
A great backstreet pub, with fantastic food and lovely staff. Has a brilliant circular bar to sit around, drink, eat and chat. Just around the corner from The Hoxton Urban Lodge too.
28 Paul Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 4LB
Tapa2 is a new and funky tapas restaurant just north of the Central Market, in the old town of Valencia. It's not on a major thoroughfare, so there's less fear of it being mobbed by tourists, which adds to the charm.
On the basis of a tip left on this very website earlier this year, 11 of us descended on Tapa2 (a quick phone call secured a table which - given the size of the place - was a feat in itself) and the owner Eddie and his staff looked after us. On my table of seven we ordered food and wine with guidance from the staff. The recommended white wine we had was divine, as of course were the tapas. There were five different tapas to share (two servings of each), and we couldn't have had a bite more.
The kitchen is on display for all to see, and Eddie as head chef for the night demonstrated a true passion for his food. The tapas were absolutely delightful.
The whole meal came to just over €30 a head (+tip) which for us folk who currently live in Dublin was amazing value. The staff were even able to recommend night club spots (Radio City is around the corner) to continue our Saturday night in style.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Carda6, Barrio del Carmen, Valencia
+34 663 875 903
This fabulous Japanese restaurant is tucked down an unlikely alley at the back of the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton. Benches are crammed into the diminutive space like edamame beans in a pod, and customers sharpen their elbows while wielding their chopsticks in anticipation.
Tempura prawns are fluffy-light and crispy, and the yasai soba is almost enough to transport you to Tokyo. Other, bigger Japanese restaurants may lead the field in terms of popularity and market share, but Fujiyama wins hands down on quality, tastiness and value for money.
5 Vining Street, Brixton, London SW9 8QA
Nearest tube: Brixton
I have stayed several times with my in-laws in Essaouira so have learned some tricks on how to eat the best food cheaply (and stay well).
The best option is some form of self-catering to take advantage of the amazingly fresh fish, fruit and vegetables on sale in the local market in the medina. Shopping is a really fun, exciting experience and the locals will not rip you off.
The fishmongers will prepare the fish for a small fee.
Anything you cook from such brilliant ingredients, even if it is just salad and grilled fish, will taste brilliant.
The one and only off-license shuts at 8pm every day and is located just outside the medina at the north entrance.
For breakfast (if you don't mind the potential calories) everybody universally agrees the best is Patisserie Driss just at the rear corner of the main square. Get there before 11am for the best choice of French pastries, fresh orange juice and good coffee.
For snacks, the takeaway pizza stands near Driss are all good.
If you want a more elaborate, heavy, traditional Moroccan meal, visit one of the small restaurants in the 'dog leg' off the main square, near the carpet shops. All offer standard set menus with tagine, traditional Harira, etc. All are roughly the same standard and price (although I've recently heard bad things about Petit Pearl).
If you like fish don't miss the cafe at the back of the fish market. You buy your fish then pay them to cook it for you. If doesn't get fresher than that!
Avoid fish stalls around the port, well known to serve old manky fish to tourists and responsible for many a tummy upset.
Essaouira - medina
Traditional Spanish tapas with a modern twist and great price. For less than €15pp we ate to bursting point. I'd especially recommend the goat's cheese toasts, steak with Iberian ham and salmorejo, and potatoes with apple.
C/Consitorio, in a little square just down from the Ayuntamiento/Town Hall
Calle Cuchilleros, is a beautiful old Madrid road next to the Plaza Mayor. It has lots of great underground mesones (inns), for when it's too cold to sit out on the terrazas.
The Meson de la Tortilla only has four things on the menu (tortilla, garlic mushrooms, cheese and ham) - order one of each and enjoy, occasionally with live music.
C/Cuchilleros, Leave the plaza mayor from the south-west corner.
Wow - probably the best restaurant I've ever eaten at (not just because of the food). Il Pentagono emerged mirage-like on our journey west from Villa Rey. We were starving and so had taken a gamble and followed the crossed fork and spoon signs along and then off the SS125. Totally empty when we arrived, we were soon treated to a feast of local delicacies, including mussel gratin, tasty seabass, fruit fresh from the farm and wine produced on site. Service was exceptional and although we had a plane to catch, it would have been rude to turn down the trolley of homemade liqueurs, wheeled out with the bill. The bill for four (three courses, plus wine, liqueur and an extra bottle of wine to take back) came to an unbelievable 60 euro.
presso Lago Simbirizzi Q.S. Elena (Ca)
Tel: 070 830879
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