You know the drill: you’re young (ish), you’re fun (drunk) and a little strapped for cash (living on lidl pasta and butter for two and a half weeks of the month).
It’s not ideal but it’s not all bad. I myself have a whole band of pals who will happily settle themselves in the corner of the pub and down a bottle of wine that costs under a fiver. Or understand that at least half of ‘a night out’ will be spent in someone’s kitchen wincing your way through the fine vintages that were on deal in the nearest newsagents.
However, it is basically the law that all twenty somethings fall into one of two categories:
1) Sensible, level headed people who left university and walked straight into a nicely paying job that offers steady room for development and pay rises every year. Lives in nice rented flat (often with boyfriend – just sayin) in sensible area such as Battersea or Clapham. Will often say things like ‘I just booked a skiing holiday – only 600 quid which I thought wasn’t too bad right?’ whilst you scream silently into your hands remembering how your card got declined earlier trying to buy a toe ring in topshop.
2) People who decided to pursure a career in the ‘arts’. HAHAHAHAHA (manic laugh). Lives in silly area like Hackney or Peckham in a tiny box or a freezing warehouse. Pays for everything with fingers crossed under the counter.
Yeah, yeah it’s an exaggeration (suppressed manic laugh) however what is not an exaggeration is that your twenties is one of the periods where people are at very different stages. Some are getting married and settling down (congrats guyz) and others are being sick into their own pants. (true story – actually not me this time but I won’t name and shame) It’s just the way the world works.
Therefore, if you are in the ‘poor as a church mouse can’t afford an Uber home from guy-whose-name-I-can’t-remember’s house’ category there is often never such a dreaded exchange as this:
Nice sensible friend: I haven’t seen you in ages. Shall we meet up?
You: Oh yes lovely – shall we go to the pub after work (in head – I can have one glass of wine and pretend I’m on a health kick)
Nice sensible friend: yeah could do (universal sign for no). I was actually hoping we could get some dinner. I’m starving!
You: Don’t be a bitch.
No you don’t say that. Of course you don’t. Believe me, going out for dinner with one of my friends is my favourite activity in the world.
Food + excellent human = happiest me.
So what do you do if the above exchange occurs in the last week of the month?
SIMPLES: I’ve collated some of the best, cheapest but crucially not shitholey (I know I’m sorry, give me a break, BMS made me get up at 6.30 so he could go to his adult job) restaurants in London. Merely jump in with these suggestions and enjoy a meal for under a tenner WITH BOOZE. Or thereabouts cos…you know…maths.
Because what’s a meal without booze? Pointless. That’s what.
1) Walluc, Redchurch St, Shoreditch
This is one of my favourite places to eat in the whole entire world. Largely because their menu consists mainly of cheese.
It’s a tiny little French place tucked away on the corner of cobbled, quaint Redchurch Street in Shoreditch. It’s tiny so be sure to book so you don’t end up having to frequent one of its extremely pricey neighbours (love you really Shoreditch House).
Think bric a brac, cracked leather armchairs, onions hanging from the ceiling and occasionally a live band. It’s eclectic without trying to be – it’s not hipster by any stretch of the imagination (this is good news to me. If it’s not to you then maybe, we shouldn’t be friends). But best of all the food is cheap af!
Why not go for the delicious Salad Magret De Canard (6 slices of grilled breast Barbary Duck, Salad, Roquefort cheese, Potatoes) for £7.20 or Ravioles Du Dauphine
(squared with cheese and egg-stuffing, dumpling with light cream) for only £6.50 which then allows you a glass of wine alongside. Forego the alcohol (lol) and you could even have a Boeuf Bourginon for £9.60
If you can allow yourself to stray over the tenner budget can I suggest you go for the fondue. It’s a steal at 11.90 a head and is more food than you could eat in a lifetime.
2) La Porchetta Pollo, Old Compton Street, Soho
Disclaimer: It’s not fancy on the inside. However, this unassuming Italian is not without its charm. (I hate myself for that sentence)
All the waiters are Italian born and bred and the food is so excellent I basically want to go there now having just had lunch.
Think huge bowls of creamy pasta and massive thin crust pizzas all for around the £6.00 – 8.00 marker. It’s incredible. And the wine’s pretty great too.
3) Viet Grill, Kingsland Road, Dalston
All hail the beauty of BYOB. This Vietnamese is absolutely delicious and has a really buzzy atmosphere too (hey guys I started a blog and now I use words like buzzy). You could get yourself this delicious bottle of red to go with it for four quid. Plus it comes in a bottle with a cork so you look fancy as all hell. Tastes like a dream too.
‘no please nice sensible friend…don’t pay for my dumplings because I bought the fancy wine. What a thought!’ (generous, warm laugh)
Food wise go for a delicious wok fried ramen noodle for £6.50.
4) Mama Lan, Brixton Village (and other locations)
Head to Brixton village for a nice cheap Chinese that feels exponentially less cheap because it is in the rather picturesque Brixton village market. I.e. it feels like you went there on purpose. Not because you are a cheapskate.
Grab some delicious steamed dumplings for around the £6.50 mark and top it off with a £3.50 beer. Sorted!
5) Kolossi Grill, Exmouth Market
Ok its probably only fair to share some home truths with you on this one. It’s a slightly odd venue. A green Grecian façade that sticks out like a weird old thumb amongst the red bricks of Farringdon. Also service is…lets call it leisurely.
But when you consider that the food is delicious, the waiters are all greek and massive flirts (i.e. humoured drunk me) and that beer is £3.70 for a big old bottle then really you could sit in there for hours.
If you can convince your friend to go for lunch you can get THREE COURSES for six quid. Which should be illegal. I worked opposite this restaurant for a year and I can safely attribute my new chin all to them.
Also if you fancy a drink before you could head to café kick on pretty Exmouth market next door and have a beer for £1.50. I don’t even like beer and I had four.
I hope that helps chums. God speed, good luck and pray god no one asks you to split the bill.