Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Cutting the cost of eating out

Now that the credit crunch is really beginning to bite and that there are fewer customers around spending less we're beginning to see more special offers in restaurants.

The excellent lists a whole lot of deals in the restaurant section of its website which is worth checking out. For example Marks and Sparks has got an 'eat out at home for a tenner' deal running from tomorrow (24th) to Sunday (27th July) while Yo Sushi is offering 50% off food bills on Mondays and Tuesdays until August 19th.

If you're after a bit of high end eating and have time to spare during the day you'll always find better deals at lunchtime than you will in the evening. In London, for example Tom Aikens, a restaurant I really rate, offers a three course lunch for £29 whereas the evening tasting menu costs £80. Claude Bosi's Hibiscus, another restaurant tipped by Michelin last year as a 'rising two star', goes even better with a lunch menu for £25 (evening £75).

Shame the business lunch is dead and buried . . .


Career Misfit said...

Having recently had a mild shock following a review of our household bills and being forced to re-assess how often we eat out ("Have we really been going out Friday night, Saturday night AND Sunday lunch?!"), some serious scaling down of our restaurant visiting habits is currently being applied. 'Drawing your horns in', as my good lady's mother archaically, but rather fetchingly, describes it.

We live near to a JD Wetherspoons pub. Many people balk at the very mention of the name but it's easily walked to, which saves on petrol as well as permitting us both to 'indulge', and actually serves reasonably well-prepared, though admittedly re-heated, food. It's nowhere near as cheap as it used to be: the very best you can do now is get two meals for £7.19, up from a fiver a year or two back, but the bean chilli is tangy and hot, and she swears by the chicken caesar salad. Of course, Wetherspoons is still red-faced from the 'Oops, we're serving Zebu burgers' exposé a while back but it's not alone in being found out on that score. We still use it when a late finish at work stops us from feeling like cooking and washing up; two people being able to eat and drink for under a tenner is still good value without compromising healthy virtues. Because of living in a rural area I would consider quite a few of the other reachable pubs to be fairly expensive for food, with one notable exception run by a couple who serve light, but truly delicious, meals including some influenced by his home country of Iran, which cost a little over six pounds each. He's a lovely bloke too, and always takes time to come out and chat to everyone once the kitchen's closed. You can't put a price on hospitality like that.

Fiona Beckett said...

I agree career misfit. Places that treat you like a regular are to be treasured. We've got a tapas bar in Bristol - also within walking distance - which is really friendly.

I think in general so-called 'ethnic' restaurants are better value than modern British ones or 'gastropubs'. I love Iranian food.

The other useful strategy I find is to have a couple of starters, generally cheaper than having a starter and a main course unless there's a deal on offer.