My new year’s resolution is to tighten the purse strings and become a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to things I don’t really need and whilst I’m finding the switch from shop-bought lunches to sandwiches from home and buying ‘basics’ baked beans etc. pretty easy the one thing I really enjoy is eating out and it’s something I’m not willing to cut out! Little things like ordering tap water instead of a pricey cocktail or bottle of wine and skipping a starter are little ways to reduce your bill (some people feel a bit tight ordering tap water, I don’t care, I’ll even ask for a slice of lemon in it lol) at your favourite restaurants but due to my intensive detective work I’ve found a few eateries that are delicious, cheap AND you can bring your own bottle of alcohol to!
In no particular order, here’s a few restaurants that you can visit the week before payday:
1 – Kao Sarn, Clapham Junction (also a branch in Brixon I haven’t been to because although Brixton is fast becoming hipster and yummy mummy central I still think it’s a bit scummy)
My FAVOURITE restaurant in Clapham Junction has to be Kao Sarn, I absolutely adore Thai food and their Tom Yum Goong soup is almost as good as the uber pricey Patara offering which is absolutely DIVINE but reserved for special occasions as it’s rare to come out with a bill that’s under £100!
Everything is deliciously homemade with generous portions and best of all you can bring your own bottle with no corkage fee! I’ve had a blast every time I’ve come, they even have an authentic Thai lady boy serving you (who is awesome, just don’t piss her off). There’s also a Sainsbury’s across the road as an added bonus (their £5 cava is pretty good) but phone up and book if you’re looking to head there from Thursday-Sat as it gets very busy.
2 – Cornish Tiger, Battersea
Ohhhhhhhhh lordy I was SO impressed with this place! I found it online through OpenTable and for the price, £9.99 for 2 courses before 7pm me and my good friend Kerri really weren’t expecting anything fancy but we were completely blown away by the delicious choices on offer. Seasonal and simple the menu is British food at it’s best and everything from the decor to the quality of the food is enough to fool you into thinking you’re in a Michelin-starred establishment.
The portions are perfect and beautifully presented it’s hard to believe such a swish place comes with such a small price tag. The decor is basic but comfortable, with subtle lighting and the friendliest staff you could ever encounter. It was my friends birthday and when I booked I asked for them to do something special with her dessert, low and behold they came out singing happy birthday with a candle in her ice cream. She cringed, but it was a lovely touch! The food is deliciously fresh and I love restaurants that use locally-sourced, seasonal stock, it really does taste better. Ideal for a catch up or date night, Cornish Tiger is well worth a visit!
3 – Ben’s Canteen, Earlsfield & Clapham Junction
Ben’s Canteen is one of though achingly cool places that yummy mummy’s flock to in their droves after Bikram yoga with their little dogs and young, trendy play date pals after a hard day shopping and making vegan frittata. Equally, you get the hungover crowd too brunching and downing spicy bloody mary’s of a weekend morning all muddled together like a Superdry-clad mojito.
With classics such as juicy burgers and chicken parmesan schnitzel to their incredible mac and cheese scotch egg and of course the breakfast and brunches the extensive canteen menu caters for everyone in a laid-back shabby chic setting. Enjoy cocktails in jam jars and other hipster-esque touches whilst reading the morning papers or take advantage of one of their current offers, my favourite being the 2 courses for £15 with a drink before 7pm for great value on really great food.
4 – Bistro 1, Soho & Covent Garden
I always visit Bistro 1 if I happen to be in town for a show as the service is quick, the food is good and at £14.90 for 2 courses it’s one of the cheapest places in bustling Covent Garden that you can sit and eat before heading on to the theatre. Of course there are cheaper places to grab something on the go but I hate eating in public and Bistro 1 has a great atmosphere but is quiet enough to chat and relax before the madness of the night begins.
Friendly staff who don’t judge you for ordering tap water, mouth-watering Mediterranean food with something for everyone and purse friendly prices give this unique chain the thumbs up for me, I’ve visited several times and I’m always impressed with the quality of the food. The mixed mezze starter is big enough for two and me and my partner always share a starter and dessert to take full advantage of the 2 course offer. The chicken shish kebab is served with the most delicious Turkish rice and the banoffee pie is one of the best I’ve tasted! Home-made and mostly healthy, it’s definitely something to try the next time you’re in town.
5 – Khan’s, Battersea & Epsom
The freshest Indian food I have EVER eaten was at Khan’s and it works out dirt cheap with their fabulous 50% off offer! Me and my good friend Jack visited recently and had a huge banquet with various starters, mains and sides which came to well over £40 but take off 50% and it was just over a tenner each!
The menu is bursting with exotic dishes, I sometimes flirt with being a vegetarian (it doesn’t last long because, bacon) and I was truly spoilt for choice with their extensive meat-free selection and I opted for the pumpkin masala which is up there with the most delicious things I have ever put it my mouth. Khan’s market themselves heavily on their low-fat and colour free cooking which is popular with the thriving young professional community of Clapham Junction. From classics such as korma and bhuna to chef’s specials which include sweet and sour prawns and coriander and lemon chicken I’m already planning my next visit to Khan’s.
Book through opentable.co.uk for the 50% off food offer.