Splash, Save or Skint: Restaurants
We Culture writers are here to take you by the hand and show you the best London has to offer.
We Culture writers are here to take you by the hand and show you the best London has to offer. With the likes of Tottenham Court Road and Covent Garden on our doorsteps, us Benthamites are lucky enough to be surrounded by choice for our daily escapades. So whether you’re looking for an impressive dining establishment to woo that special someone, or are looking for a cheap night out that isn’t Moonies or Roxy, we are here to help with our new weekly picks of local places where you can splash, save or remain skint. This week Tom Chesover looks at our vast array of local eateries with his top three to suit all budgets.
SPLASH: Gaucho (Charlotte Street)
You may have already heard of ‘Gaucho’, a chain of restaurants that specialise in offering their customers the finest selection of steaks available. ‘Decadent’ is certainly the key word here, from the décor to the prices. Just trust me though because once you have stepped inside the slightly ominous entrance to the branch of Gaucho on Charlotte Street, you’re greeted with a restaurant unlike most others.
Think of a high-class nightclub sponsored by the world’s largest cowhide distributor, and you’re along the right lines. Everything is covered in something either black or white, including the marble, glass and leather. Somehow though, it doesn’t look gaudy.
When it comes to price, Gaucho is probably a restaurant to recommend to your parents when they come to visit their precious baby at university. Starters are around the £10 mark, steaks tend to hit £20 but they range up to an eye-watering £119.00. If you’re looking to have a true all-out meal there, they also have extensive drink and wine menus, as well as a ‘cigar’ menu.
The one thing you can be sure of is that everything they serve is of the highest quality. I had one of their (cheaper) Rump steaks and I can still honestly say it was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had, maybe even the best.
Gaucho definitely deserves your time and money if you love steak (or if someone else loves you enough to take you there). If you’re a vegetarian, they have one dish for you (a pumpkin ravioli, which I’m afraid I can’t tell you much about), but to be honest, the sight of their incredible steaks will either turn you carnivore or make you sick.
SAVE: East Street
If you haven’t been inside East Street, you will probably recognise it as the restaurant that you are shoved against and drunkenly look into as you queue for the Roxy. East Street is an Asian restaurant that offers cuisine from Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Korea and Indonesia and Singapore.
If you’re one of those awful, clichéd people that went to South-East Asia in your Gap Yah (I’m one of them), then you will feel right at home in this place. Bright signs hang from the roof that look like they were taken straight from the streets of Hanoi or Bangkok. The selection of food is extensive and all of it is pan-cooked with lovely, fresh ingredients.
Dishes from the menu range from £7.50-£9.25 and the restaurant has a great selection of Asian beers and non-Asian wines. Personally, I would recommend the Beer Lao; not only will you look well-travelled and totally alternative whilst you drink it, but it is also the cheapest.
However, this restaurant really deserves the nod of approval for the ‘Save’ category because of its ‘Eastern Express Menu’. For £7.95, you can choose from 4 starters and 4 mains, with an extra £1 opening another two main options.
So it’s a great deal, it’s filling and from what I’ve experienced, everything tastes delicious.
SKINT: Double J’s
It may be more of a greasy spoon than a restaurant, but for good, cheap food Double J’s is fantastic. It’s a favourite amongst the builders that occupy the many building sites on Charlotte Street and once you’ve tried it, it’s easy to see why.
If you’re looking for a hearty breakfast or fancy crawling to brunch at 13:00 after a heavy night, they do a great range of cooked breakfasts. You can either choose from a few set selections, most for under a fiver, or you can build your own with pretty much anything at your disposal. They also offer a huge range of sandwiches and fillings.
However, their main draw is a bacon roll and a coffee (a real coffee; not instant, not from a jug that’s going cold, a real coffee) for only £2. So if you want something more exciting than a Special K bar for breakfast on your way to a lecture, or you just need a bacon fix, Double J’s is for you. You’ll be tempted to go everyday.