Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg in London Shopping in Berwick Street Market
Whether you live in London or are there on a visit you’re likely, at some point, to find yourself in the West End wondering where to go for lunch. At this junction there’s two options. The first is to ring or Facebook someone ‘in the know’ and hope they get back to you before your stomach is chewing on your spine. The other is to press your autopilot button, which may take you into a chain eatery for something identical to their mediocre offerings anywhere else in the country, or the world. The other is to commit the information below to memory, or bookmark this page.
All these places mentioned are within two minutes of Charing Cross Road, are truly independent, unique, and are ran by people who care about what they serve. All budgets (shown per head) are catered for and I guarantee wholesome food, and a variety of characters and entertainment as a bonus.
Berwick Street Market
So you’re on a seriously tight budget. You’ve been living off tap-water sandwiches and dry Cornflakes for three weeks and it’s still a week to pay day. You’ve got a single quid for your lunch. Go to Berwick St market. There’s plenty of ‘Quid-a-bowl’ stalls and some traders are happy to mix and match, the reason it’s cheap is cos they want to sell it, so haggle. A Carrot, 2 Plums an Apple and an Orange ain’t a bad lunch. Have a game of cards with the fella on the fish stall if you’ve got time.
Recommendations- Cherries, Figs, Grapes.
£5- Standard lunch budget.
41 Wardour St- The long established temple of Chinese brusque service, and great value tasty nutrition on a buskers takings. The customer is always…wrong! You’re lucky if you get given a menu. Watching American tourist’s reactions to the mute frowning waiters is pure comedy. I love this place. The best method is to read the menu in the window and order as soon as you sit down. I’ve been a regular for twenty years, only last month did I get my first smile from the staff. Recently read that this was Noel Gallagher’s hangover cure of choice when visiting London in the early Oasis days.
Recommendations- Barbecue pork or brisket noodle soup. Belly Pork and Roast Duck on hot rice.
£10- The ten quid time warp.
The customer is always…wrong! You’re lucky if you get given a menu. Watching American tourist’s reactions to the mute frowning waiters is pure comedy.
Lorelei’s Coffee Bar, 21 Bateman St
This place has been keeping it real since the original Mods sipped their Cappuccinos in there 50 years ago. The owner, décor and menu have remained sturdy and unchanged since the Glory Boys sat comparing cuff-links. You could easily pass by this place thinking it’s closed down. It’s a no frills but authentic Italian lunch.
Recommendations- Pizza, Spaghetti Bolognese, Ice-Cream
£20- A lovely treat.
Polpetto, 49 Dean St
This could be the tastiest 20 quid you will ever spend. Witty exploitation of seasonal produce guarantees an ever evolving menu in this cabin-like delight. The main courses barely scrape the tenner mark so a side and dessert are achievable within budget. Stick your head in ‘The French House’ pub, (downstairs) too. If you spot a handsome bastard with his nose in a crossword it’s probably me, it’s my favourite pub. Say hello…..and thanks for the top tip!
Recommendations- Hard to recommend due to such a rotation. Go for Devon Crab, Squid in Ink or Grilled Quail if it’s there.
£50- Pay day!
Barrafina 54 Frith St
It’s high-stools only in this gourmet Tapas bar. They pride themselves on their fresh shellfish. The chefs are fluid and joy to watch. A bit bustly and regularly very busy. For good reason.
Recommendations- Razor clams, Lamb Cutlets in Parsnip Puree, Tuna Tartar
£100- Blow out!
37 Charlotte St- An exceptionally tasty afternoon is in store at this celebration of contemporary Japanese cuisine. You could do 4 courses in this place for £60 if you skip drinks, but you’d be a fool to deny yourself the Cocktails, which are sublime. If you fancy one of the finest meals of your life get the incredible 7 course Tasting Menu for £75. Ask for a seat ‘at the bench’ and you can watch the blur of the chefs as they work.
Recommendations- Black Cod, Rice hot pot with King Crab and Wasabi, Softshell Crab, Scallops with Sugar Cain.
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