For a lot of people a visit to a Michelin-starred restaurant seems like an unobtainable fantasy, not dissimilar to gazing at beautiful houses through an estate agent’s window. However, it was only when I first started researching London’s food scene for my job that I realized there is in fact great value to be had at many of the capital’s Michelin-starred restaurants. As the fine dining scene continues to grow, so too has the number of top restaurants offering excellent value set menus. If you are happy to go for lunch or eat at a specific time in the evening, Michelin-starred food doesn’t have to be prohibitive.
When it comes to high-end value, it doesn’t get much better than the £28, three-course set menu offered by Kitchen W8. I jumped on a tube after work and met a friend for an early dinner at this hidden Kensington gem. Set up by restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas and Phil Howard (of two-Michelin-starred restaurant The Square in Mayfair), W8 Kitchen opened its doors in 2009, earning its star just two years later. Since then the restaurant has earned a reputation as one of London’s best neighbourhood restaurants, with some even predicting a second star for head chef Mark Kempson and his team.
Our meal started off very well with a delicious tapioca crisp and pumpkin purée amuse-bouche, followed by walnut bread. More seasoned restaurant goers would perhaps view this as a standard part of any high-end meal, but for me it is always a pleasant surprise, especially considering the rising number of restaurants that charge for bread baskets (not the case at W8, I’m pleased to say). The walnut bread was the best I had ever tasted; crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, it had a subtle, sweet hint of walnut that made it seriously addictive.