A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
Last week I told you six (6) easy ways 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!
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!
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!
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!
The restaurant I chose was just one minute from The Ritz London hotel and was called Quaglino’s.
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!
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: 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.
Watch this space!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!
OMG, I actually ate at La Pont de la Tour a few years ago and loved it! Your post reminded me of one of my fave American TV shows on the Food Network – $40 a day with Rachel Ray. I must say, I didnt find London to be terribly expensive (except for transport) because while it CAN be, just like NYC it has a ton of great cheapy options. I also loved all the food – Brit and otherwise.
Thank you so much Anna. I know! La Pont de la Tour really was a lovely place. I look forward to being on the terrace, in the summer!
You’re right, London isn’t terribly food expensive, if you know where to look. It’s the alcohol that does it LOL! It’s a shame really ‘cos people are scared of the inaginary cost without the knowledge that London can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be!
Thanks for sharing such great tips. One of my favorite things about traveling is eating – I definitely hope to make it to these spots one day!
You’re very welcome and thank you so much for reading! You’re so right, eating is a wonderful way to get into the culture of other people and sharing culinary experiences!
Now that’s what a call stretching a dollar! Some great dining tips on the cheap here.
I do have to say that breakfast has to be the most unhealthiest I have ever seen!
LOL! Thank you Filbio. London might be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but the common person still has to eat and there are some truely fabulous places!
As for breakfast, there’s a reason why a local Café is called a “greasy spoon”and if you’re on any type of diet – let it go. Quickly!
This post will be very informative for my purse during a future visit to London. Thank you.
You’re very welcome Victor and thank YOU very much for making a comment and for “following” me too. I always enjoy reading your blog. :):)
I’m glad that my post will give you some info. so that you can have an even greater time in London!
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