Fine Dining on a Budget: Rules for Millennials

Fine Dining on a Budget: Rules for Millennials banner image

As I wrote previously, we millennials are out and about out of need, and not because of financial liquidity; if businesses want our money, they have to learn the economics we live by so they can best tailor deals to us.

Many in the hospitality industry have cottoned on to this fact, and our social media feeds are filled with articles on the best free events this week, how to have a date for under £10, or someone’s promoting some such deal. The problem is that, ninety-nine percent of the time, these offers cost more than advertised, as there are hidden costs, from booking fees, to service charges; it may be that there are only a few tickets at the bargain price. Companies run a risk doing this. We look for deals, and if it turns out to be bad, then we will reject you, and with sixty plus years of shopping ahead of us, that’s a big loss of custom.

Part of the reason for the rise in street food is that on the face of it, it’s very affordable. But here’s the thing: we’ve all been to a street feast or some such other place, with the thought that we can get a few good, high-quality street food dishes and a few drinks for £20. Next thing you know, you’ve walked out £50 poorer, unable to pay the Netflix subscription, asking yourself whether the loss of “and chill” for the next month really worth that one craft beer?

But canny dinning doesn’t have to be street food. It can actually be done at some of London’s best restaurants, even if they haven’t quite picked up on the issues millennials face. We’ve put our heads together and come up with In Good Taste’s guide to dining at some of London’s best restaurants on a millennial’s puny budget.


Rules to remember


The service charge – remember to factor in 12.5% on top of any bar and restaurant deal. It’s a killer.

Drinks – Find a deal that includes a free alcoholic drink, and stick to just that one. Tap water is of course the other way to drink for free. Never, never have mineral water. It’s no better for you than tap, and is just pure profit for the restaurant. Alternatively, if you want to buy a drink, you could consider mocktails. They are cheap and many bars and restaurants have now got a good list. This will cost you, but nowhere near as much as an alcoholic drink. And always remember that there’s the 12.5% service charge on any drink you buy extra, too.

Look wider than the set menus – Set menus are of course a good way to eat at a restaurant for less than it could cost. But what you have to remember is that they are made up of the dishes that are the cheapest to make, carrying a big mark up. This means you get less bang for your buck, and they aren’t always worth it, especially when some restaurants also serve smaller portions in this context. Often you can do better by going just for a well-priced main course – it’s cheaper, and will leave you just as full.

Sign up for newsletters – Lots of restaurants use their newsletter not just to market to you but to do so by offering set menu deals or discounts, so it’s always worth signing up for them and keeping an eye out. They will often offer good deals to try and entice you in during quiet periods in the restaurant, especially Mondays. 

Dining websites and apps for deals – Always check the Bookatable, Open Table websites and apps, and the Michelin Restaurants App for deals. They always have tons of offers. A good tip to remember is that often you will find the same deals as the newsletters, but they sometime throw in a free cocktail or glass of something, so if you see a deal you like in a newsletter, check to see if they better it on one of these sites.

Soft openings – Keep an eye out for new openings and their soft launches, where you can often have food at half price, as a thank you for letting them practice on you. You may have a hiccup or two with the meal, but that’s the trade-off, and often the staff will be very apologetic – and may give you something extra free as an apology. After all, they want you to come back when they’re fully up and running.

Cook at home – Of course the cheapest thing to do is eat at home. Plus, it has the added benefit that it allows you to save up for a better meal out.