What the experts recommend: fine food on a budget
Keen to take advantage of the reopening of restaurants - but not to spend a fortune in the process?
Here’s a selection of restaurants with a Bib Gourmand in the 2021 Michelin Guide. The award is given to establishments that serve fine three-course meals for under £28.
95 Bidborough Ridge, Bidborough, Kent
The Kentish Hare
Great care is taken over both sourcing and cooking at this “smart dining” pub. In a modern extension at the back, you can “watch the chefs cooking steaks on two Big Green Eggs”; other options might include shepherd’s pie with purple sprouting broccoli, and line-caught mackerel with beetroot and horseradish. There is also a vegetarian and vegan menu.
1 St Johns Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex
Situated in the centre of St Leonards, this relaxed gastropub is run by three friends. The cooking isacross between British and Mediterranean: there might be wild halibut with borlotti beans and hot anchovy dressing, or rack of lamb with baked onions and romesco. It belongs to the same general “family tree” of restaurants as The Eagle, St John, and the Anchor&Hope, said The Observer’s Jay Rayner after his visit last year. In other words, it is perhaps not exactly original – but it’s “delightful” all the same.
7 Fore Street, Porthleven, Cornwall
This small harbourside bistro serves “carefully cooked modern classics” based on local ingredients, said Michelin – perhaps Cornish skate wing with garlic, parsley and mussels, or duck and port pâté with apple chutney and toasted brioche. The terrace out front is the perfect spot for watching the boats come and go.
47a Thistle Street, Edinburgh
Chef Stuart Ralston opened this small-plates diner following his success with the upmarket Aizle, also in Edinburgh, which offers diners a constantly changing no-choice menu. The cooking at Noto bears marked Asian influences: lobster gnocchi with kimchi is currently on the menu. Make sure to save room for the “luscious” desserts.
125 Queen’s Road, London
This welcoming neighbourhood bistro and wine bar specialises in well-priced small plates. The cooking is “rustic yet refined”: sample dishes include burrata, green sauce and hazelnuts, and pork ribeye with roasted apple and chilli. There are 150 wines on offer, and many are available by the glass.
4 Main Street, Burrough on the Hill, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
This is a traditional village pub with an “experienced hand in the kitchen”. The concise menu changes weekly; and the “fresh, seasonal and very tasty” dishes on it might include smoked haddock fritters with heritage potato, or fillet of plaice with courgettes, basil and tomato. On steak night (which is Wednesdays), two people can enjoy rump caps and a bottle of red for just £40.