It's the best meal of the day and the best chance of getting good value at the best restaurants. So if your idea of a meal deal is a chilled sandwich, crisps and a coke, here’s some inspiration.
This minimally designed City newcomer urns out inventive food which retains a sense of regional heritage. The three-course set lunch (with mains such as lemon & thyme poussin & turnip tops) is exceptional value at £25.50. After a couple of meals there we say take clients, take a date — take anyone. 1 Snowden Street, London EC2
For neighbourhood dining in Primrose Hill, you can't do much better than this Bryn Williams restaurant (especially if you go al fresco and bag one of the prime spots outtdoors). Food is largely French-inspired, and for a mere £12 you'll get two courses — while the starters are light (think soup/parfait), for mains we especially liked the pan-fried sea bream. 130 Regents Park Road, London NW1
Another new Italian - this one quite informal - Bocco Di Lupo does tapas-style meals very well. If you’re there for lunch, a tenner will cover a great one-dish meal (like simple spaghettini with clams or a grilled pork chop and borlotti beans). 12 Archer Street, London W1
While some set menus tart-up cheaper cuts to deliver good value, Hibiscus – recently arrived from Ludlow – has a lunchtime offering worthy of its high-end á la carte menu (foie gras, Welsh rosé veal). It’s a confident combination of brilliant ingredients cooked up with culinary flair — although those who don’t like their food “messed around” should steer clear, meat’n’two veg this ain’t. Though two courses are on offer for £25, we’d opt for the £33 version (which includes an extra course, wine and coffee) every time. 29 Maddox Street, London W1
If you want to get the biggest name for your crunch lunch dollars, look no further than Gordon Ramsay’s stable of restaurants. A favourite of ours is the Boxwood Café, headed up by chef Stuart Gilles, which combines an unpretentious setting with great food. The entire set lunch menu is tempting, from the starters - such as warm salad of confit duck and San Daniele ham with green beans and a hazelnut dressing - through to classic English puddings like steamed treacle pudding with vanilla custard. Three courses will set you back £25. The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London SW1