You don’t have to shop and cook for every family celebration. Fine dining at a Michelin-star restaurant is not just for the super-rich. In fact, top-class cuisine can be enjoyed by anyone. Digital bank thinkmoney has put together a guide to getting the Michelin-star restaurant experience for less.
Dining at a Michelin-star restaurant for a very special occasion is one of the few times it pays to splash out and use a credit card. If you want to make fine dining a more everyday experience, read on for options that won’t break the bank.
Eat at a Michelin-star restaurant on a budget
According to thinkmoney, it’s possible to enjoy a Michelin-star meal for under £30 per person. The lowest prices are mainly available for lunch only.
There are many advantages to choosing lunch over the full evening a la carte or tasting menu experience. As a paid-up member of the ‘muddle class’ (a term coined by comedian Jason Manford), I’ll admit to being rather anxious about getting the etiquette wrong in a ‘posh’ restaurant. Lunch is much more relaxed – dress can be casual, and there are fewer pieces of cutlery to worry about.
Booking for lunch gives customers the opportunity to explore the style and ambience of a Michelin-star restaurant, for less.
Find a Michelin-star restaurant in the UK and save on fine dining
Most options are in central London, but there are also some regional choices on thinkmoney’s ‘Fine Dining at a Fair Price’ list.
In London, head to Hackney Wick for genuinely affordable and mouth-watering seafood dishes. Cornerstone is a relatively new Michelin-star restaurant, created by up and coming chef Tom Brown. Main courses are available from £18.
2. The Elephant
On holiday in Devon? The Elephant by Simon Hulstone has enjoyed Michelin star status for 15 years. The restaurant overlooks the stunning Torquay harbour. There’s even a takeaway offering two courses for £23.
3. Pea Porridge
The first and only Michelin-star restaurant in Suffolk, proprietors Justin and Jurga Sharp create a laid back, welcoming atmosphere for diners at Pea Porridge. The menu proudly includes Nose-to-Tail dishes, not for the faint-hearted – or vegans. A two-course set lunch is available for just £25.
4. The Pipe and Glass
A former coaching inn, the Pipe and Glass is still very much a pub despite a Michelin star and other awards. Hosts James and Kate Mackenzie support the local Yorkshire community and provide training for young chefs. Enjoy a traditional Sunday lunch for as little as £18. There is a substantial and reasonably priced children’s menu too.
Located in Belfast, OX proprietors Stephen and Alain agree that “Everyone should be able to enjoy fantastic food and wine, something a little different, in a relaxed environment.”
OX’s tasting menu is one of the most affordable, offering six courses for £65.
More ways to try a Michelin-star restaurant
6. Afternoon tea
If your favourite course is pudding, consider afternoon tea at a Michelin-star restaurant. Fill up on scones, delicate sandwiches, savouries, cakes and pastries. You can wash it down with a glass of champagne if it’s a particularly special occasion. Afternoon tea in the sun lounge at Norfolk’s impressive Morston Hall is £32 per person.
7. Stem & Glory
After many years of choosing not to eat meat, it is still a disappointment to be offered barely one option on the menu. Fine dining’s idea of vegetarianism is to push a couple of vegetables to the centre of the plate, top it off with a mushroom, and charge the same as for a whole fish or a piece of an animal.
The menu at Stem & Glory in Cambridge and London is entirely plant-based, and the establishment has won many non-Michelin awards.
8. Tom Kerridge
The Hand and Flowers boasts two Michelin stars. It’s still a pub though, and you can get a celebrity chef’s set lunch for £35 per person.
9. Indian cuisine
Many budget Michelin star delights are non-European cuisine. An early evening meal at Trishna in Marylebone costs £35 for three courses.
Steer away from modern British and French cuisine, and there are more opportunities for sharing dishes.
10. Michelin Green Star Restaurants
Michelin has begun awarding a Green Star to top-quality restaurants that also have impeccable sustainability credentials. In 2021, 23 UK restaurants were awarded this special Michelin status. Most are in England, but the list includes Henry Robertson at Palé Hall in Wales, and Inver – a frugally priced former crofter’s cottage in Scotland.
Michelin Green Star restaurants won’t cost the earth, literally.
Michelin star gifts
Many Michelin-star restaurants offer gift vouchers, or you can find Michelin-star restaurant deals on gift sites like Buy a Gift or Red Letter Days.
You will need at least £100 per person to eat at a restaurant with three Michelin stars. But it’s likely to be worth waiting and saving for!