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On weekdays at this Notting Hill local, the lunch deal is £13 for two courses or £15.50 for three; generous by any measure but a distinct bargain here given the excellent food by Tom Pemberton, ex-head chef at St John Bread and Wine. Where ingredients are thrifty, they are cooked faultlessly, as in a starter of beetroot with egg and sorrel. On a summer’s day, the pavement tables are unbeatable.
3 Hereford Road, Westbourne Grove, W2 4AB, 020 7727 1144
Converted from a former public lavatory, Restaurant Story is the first restaurant from Noma alumnus Tom Sellers. Its former incarnation has been banished by wood panels and sweet posies of flowers. There are only two menus: £45 for six or £65 for 10 courses. The former gives an entertaining taste of Sellers’ many good ideas – “Bread and dripping”, and the wonderful “Three bears” porridge with a trio of flavours including a particularly delicious salted caramel.
201 Tooley Street, Southwark, SE1 2UE, 020 7183 2117
It’s a scrum on Sundays for the £28 lunch when the flower market is in full throng, but even during the week Brawn’s whitewashed dining room fills up quickly. The lunch special, when on, is the dish of the day, a glass of good wine and a coffee for a very reasonable £10. The main course was modestly sized but Brawn’s gorgeous sourdough bread was there to fill any gaps.
49 Columbia Road, Bethnal Green, E2 7RG, 020 7729 5692
The Peruvian culinary contingent hit London hard last summer with restaurants serving ceviche and pisco sours. Lima is an outpost for celebrated young chef Virgilio Martinez. The set lunch is a chance to try his recherché ingredients: three courses for £20 brings dishes such as the deliciously crunchy giant Peruvian corn, black bream and a mildly challenging chilli-chocolate dessert.
31 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1JH, 020 3002 2640
Australian chef Brett Graham’s impeccable two-starred restaurant still shines since its opening in 2005. The lunch set menu is either £30 for two or £35 for three courses; an affordable introduction to Graham’s perfectionist kitchen. Unusual pairings work – scallop ceviche with turnips, or chicken with caramelised almonds. Come the game season, expect more excellent innovation.
127 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AQ, 020 7792 9090
Natalie Whittle is the FT’s food and drink editor