Where to go when you’re broke, not broke, and ballin’

Greetings.

The end of the month is creeping up on us and that means two things doesn’t it lovers?

Firstly that we are currently super broke (annoying but inevitable) but, luckily, we will soon have that sweet sweet injection of bank funds to kick off April right.

Still. There’s a week to go and a gal’s gotta eat. So. Where can you go for banging food that doesn’t cause financial ruin? Where’s a good budget meal that doesn’t feel budget? Where can you really get bangfor your buck.

You know I gotchu boo.

Relatively Broke but still fabulous.

Tonkotsu, various locations.

Ramen is wholesome food. It is SOUL NOURISHMENT. Both fragrant and filling, it’s the perfect still kinda winter and not yet spring dish to brighten up these grey and mildly miserable days.

There are, arguably, many good ramen spots in London but prices do vary and the quality to price ratio can vary dramatically. Which is why Tonkotsu is always a good shout. They are consistently quality; and their namesake, Tonkotsu style ramen, is something you’ll likely fall into again and again.

At £11.50, the classic tonkotsu is, I’m gonna say it, fiscally responsible. Is it cheap? No. Quality costs money, but at just over a tenner for a full bowl, I’m not mad at the price tag.

If you’re feeling something less soupy, their Hiyashi ramen salad is a delicious dish better suited to the coming warmer months (ever the optimist).

Mamie’s Creperie, Covent Garden.

Love me a savoury galette or sweet crepe for lunch. My inner Frenchie just pops out and charges face first into the closest garlic clove and camembert wedge going. The only way to keep her appeased is with regular offerings, and Mamie’s is a great appeaser.

The menu is simple. Pretty much everything is under 12 quid. It would be really difficult to spend any kind of fortune here, like, you would need to eat a lot of these delicious Bretony pancakes (but by all means, prove me wrong).

I mean, a plain galette served with butter and herbs is £3.55. Am I exaggerating when I say that’s less than a flat white in Pret? I mean yes, I am, but barely. Like £2.80 is still a lot for a six ounce coffee just saying.

Other Side Fried, Peckham levels.

There are other locations yes but south east London is my jam and Peckham levels is the Bon Maman amidst the shelf of alternative preserves.

I tend to talk about Other Side Fried a lot and my friends, frenemies and family will be able to vouch for this accordingly. Why? Because their chicken is the perfection I long to emulate. The OTF burger is hands down the best chicken burger you will have in London. Oh I know it’s a bold claim and I stand by it. Garlic parmesan sauce, tender chicken so moist and crisp you are internally singing, the perfect bun to filling ratio, a good amount of lettuce. My god. It’s just delicious. And at under a tenner it’s a steal. It’s a darn steal and if you’re going to treat yourself with the last dregs of your bank account then you want no regrets, right?

Not too broke but there is brokenness on the horizon (if you squint).

El Inca Plebeyo, Islington.

So this snazzy little spot is super colourful and enticingly wholesome. It’s Ecuadorian cooking just how your Ecuadorian grandmother might do it. Super kitsch and comfortable, it’s a really relaxed vibe where the emphasis is on food. And the food is great. Comfort eating at it’s very best you can eat very well here for around £30pp.
Their signature dish is the Ecuadorian roast which surrounds a 12 hour slow cooked pork, giant white corn, pickled tomatoes and traditional potato patties. I know you’re thinking it sounds good and you would be right.

Desserts, and because you’re just slightly about broke dessert is on the table (& soon to be in your mouth), centre around the more classic (think chocolate fondant) and the very usual (quinoa & sweet cheese anyone?)

Kricket, Soho.

Whilst there are pretty dazzling restaurants on every Soho corner, some are just slightly more special than others. Let’s look at Kricket together shall we? Kricket is a blend of trendy traditional Indian cooking with English ingredients in a very relaxed setting. I am a fan of relaxed settings, largely because I have no chill and old school white table clothes/formal dress codes/pretentious airs kill my vibe.
There is no pretension at Kricket; it’s just good food and friendly staff; a spot which works equally well for a group hangout or a cheeky little date.
The Keralan fried chicken is a must, and whether you’re a vegetarian or not, be sure to include a few veggie dishes in your spread for the full Kricket experience. At £6-10 per dishes, it’s not crazy cheap but you’ll be able to live with yourself afterwards.

Happy Face, Kings Cross.

Cute name, eh? And the setting matches; think upmarket canteen, very casual but also fun, cheerful, perfect for the glorious coming summer.

With Pizzas starting at just a fiver (and never breaking the bank that much, the most expensive menu item is 12 quid), it’s feel good food in every way.

I’m not sure why I enjoy Happy Face as much as I do, but it’s probably because your girl really likes pizza and an aesthetically pleasing selection of lights all under one roof. So. there’s that.

In short, is Happy Face posh? No. Is it decent pizza at a decent price in a cute little canteen setting? Yas.

You is ballin’, time to spend that dinero.

Brat, Shoreditch.

Expensive does not always mean good. Look at Sketch (shots fired), look at the majority of Mayfair/Knightsbridge restaurants (still fired but more vague but also accurate). Truth is a large price tag does not ensure quality, sometimes it only ensures a particular kind of arrogance.

Brat is not cheap. It’s not. But dishes here are painfully honest and there’s no hiding behind the pretentious overzealous use of black truffle shavings. Instead you’ll find a very seasonal menu (which changes every day) and usual British ingredients which you just know have been foraged just hours before.

You are paying for quality, and whilst I wouldn’t call Brat a particularly formal setting, like many of it’s Shoreditch counterparts there is a classy, trendy and mildly hipster (but good hipster) vibe from the moment you enter.

St Johns, Smithfield.

The daddy of head to tail eating, St Johns caused quite a splash when it rocketed into the public eye back in 2009. In the time which has passed since then, it’s reputation has somewhat cemented; St Johns is the epitome of modern British cooking. And they also do a banging doughtnut (at £3.50).

None of this comes cheap though, even if you’re not going all out on the feasting menu (£390.00 for a small whole pig and serves up to 14 guests), it’s still going to make quite a dent in your bank account. Mains are around the £22 mark, and desserts are a tenner. Yes. It hurts.

But it’s Michelin, and it’s an institution, and that’s what you’re paying for. So is it an everyday thing? Not unless you are seriously ballin’. But a payday treat? Always.

The Clove Club, Shoreditch.

You can have either six courses for £95 or a longer tasting menu at £145. That’s it. Those are your two choices. I know. It’s expensive. Look I acknowledge this but that’s what a Michelin star (and a good one at that because believe me even Michelin quality varies) costs you these days.

And what exactly is the deal? Well you don’t really know what you’re eating until your sit yourself down and drink in the vibes.

This is a classy affair, and showcases the very best of what modern British cooking can be. Dishes are simple, with the focus being on perfected execution and interesting ingredients; think vegetables, think British sourced poultry and classic desserts steeped in history, elevated.