Spend or Save? Pricey Burgers, Affordable Steaks

By Malika Dalamal  |  February 17, 2014

Anyone that has spent more than a day here will have figured out that London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. It is also a city of extremes, so whether you're after a money-is-no-object dining experience or you're simply a foodie on a budget looking to eat well, we offer the perfect way for you to splurge or save. From steak to Peking duck or tasting menus, read on for the ultimate high-low London dining guide.

  • Steak

    Spend: The London outposts (Mayfair, City & Canary Wharf) of Russian restaurant chain Goodman are classic New York-style steakhouses where succulent prime cuts of beef (a 400-gram filet will set you back £45) are hung in the on-site drying room to mature before being seared over a charcoal grill to lock in the flavour. Expensive dark-wood panelling, comfy leather booths, friendly service and a menu of classic sides (creamed spinach, truffle chips, mushrooms with garlic butter) make it worth every penny (3 South Quay Sq., E14 9SH; 020 7531 0300).

    Save: At Flat Iron - the pop-up gone permanent in Soho - everything is stripped back (walls, floors, reservations department) leaving just a £10 feather-blade steak that is a little firmer than a fillet but still juicy and full of flavour. Served on a chopping board with a secret sauce that hits the spot, steak is the only option on the menu, but you can pay a little extra to get dripping chips and sides (17 Beak St., W1F 9RW).

  • Cheeseburger

    Spend: You're in good meaty hands at Hawksmoor where the classic Hawksmoor Hamburger (£15) is made with a Longhorn patty that is seared with little bits of bone marrow for extra flavour. Topped with your choice of Gubbeen cheese or Colston Bassett Stilton and served between a brioche bun from Miller's Bakery in Wimbledon, this juicy burger is served with either triple-cooked fries or beef dripping potatoes (various locations).

    Save: The U.S. burger chain Shake Shack arrived in Covent Garden to much hysteria last year - and rightly so. You might have to queue around the block for your £5 Shack Burger, but the madly juicy patty - made with 100% Aberdeen Angus beef, grass-fed on Scottish pastures, topped with a secret sauce and sandwiched between a soft featherlight bun - is most certainly worth the wait (Covent Garden, WC2E 8RD; 020 3598 1360).

  • Tacos

    Spend: Sit at the Taco Bar in Peyote - the recently opened Mexican restaurant in Mayfair - to sample handmade tacos filled with everything from mushrooms (£8.50) to avocado tempura (£8.50), chicken tinga (£9) or zingy soft-shell crab (£12). People-watching, top-notch service, an extensive tequila menu and a lively atmosphere are what you pay extra for at this upmarket Mexican restaurant (13 Cork St., W1S 3NS; 020 7409 1300).

    Save: Taqueria - a no-frills, no-reservations Mexican joint - in Notting Hill makes their own corn tortillas for their tacos and fill them with free-range meats and homemade chili and herbs. There's no shortage of choice from Mexican chorizo (£5) to shredded slow-cooked pork (£6.50) or charcoal-grilled chuck steak (£6.80). And from Monday to Thursday from 4-7 PM, tacos are all half-price (139-143 Westbourne Grove, W11 2RS; 020 7229 4734).

  • Tasting Menu

    Spend: Slick and sophisticated, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon is a modern French restaurant where the five-course tasting menu (£95) will make you want to book your next visit before you have left the table. Expect small portions of fancy French food including a Scottish scallop with black truffle and slowly cooked leeks or Royale of foie gras, aged port reduction and Parmesan foam (13-15 West St., WC2H 9NE; 020 7010 8600).

    Save: You'll need to plan about six months in advance to eat at Dabbous, but once you manage to get yourself a table, you're in for a treat. Chef Ollie Dabbous' modern European cuisine is skilled and technically interesting without being fussy and set in a laid-back industrial-feel space. The set menu is only £28 for four courses, while dinner will set you back £45 (39 Whitfield St., WIT 2SF; 020 7323 1544).

  • Macaroni Cheese

    Spend: The posh version of mac 'n' cheese at La Petite Maison in Mayfair is served with cream and white truffles over al dente pasta. It will no doubt be the most expensive version of your favourite childhood dish, but thankfully all the food at this Riviera-inspired restaurant is intended for sharing (54 Brook's Mews, W1K 4EG; 020 7495 4774).

    Low: U.S.-style mac 'n' cheese (£5.50) is deliciously rich and served from Anna Mae's food truck to anyone who doesn't mind waiting in line and eating on the street. Made fresh on site in giant cast-iron skillets, you can add toppings such as bacon, hot dog sausages or jalapeños for an extra 50p.

  • Peking Duck

    Spend: The star turn at London's chicest Chinese Restaurant China Tang is undoubtedly the Peking duck. The specially roasted duck will set you back £50 but is served in three courses - as pancakes, a soup and then as a stir-fry. Enjoy it in the decadent surroundings of Sir David Tang's basement restaurant, which was inspired by Shanghai in the 1920s (53 Park Ln., W1K 1QA; 020 7629 9988).

    Save There are no frills at Four Seasons - the Cantonese mini-chain with branches around town. The service and decor might leave a lot to be desired by the moist and juicy roasted Peking duck - which can be ordered as a quarter (£10), half (£18) or whole (£35) - which is one of the best in town (various locations).