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Bank Westminster, St James Court Hotel SW1
Last week's wizard editorial wheeze was that we should cover healthy eating, so it came as no great surprise when we were told that this week's theme is' dining out on a budget. Turns out, it's not so bad - well, not as bad as healthy eating anyway - and this week we've found three top-value places with which to tempt your New Year taste buds.
All the world loves a sale, and it's difficult to see why restaurants shouldn't follow suit. The Bank group always offers good value at lunchtimes and early-evenings (with a two-course menu available for £13.50), but if you step along before 31 January, you can, at any time of day, enjoy that self-same menu - with a glass of champagne thrown in to assist digestion - for a bargain £16.
Although it's the Aldwych branch which is the best known, we visited the large, vaguely sci-fi unit between Buckingham Palace and Victoria Street (There is another in Brum's showpiece Brindleyplace development.)
As ever where Bank is concerned, our recent meal was an efficient experience, if one arguably short on personality. A budget lunch comprised a prawn mousse - OK, not very seasonal but well-realised - and a chicken breast on a bed of risotto, which was perfectly satisfying (even if it did rely a bit too much on the salt cellar for flavour).
Quality didn't seem much different for the Ã la carte pudding - a Baked Alaska was pleasant - and a cup of coffee was robust enough. In terms of overall value, even if no aspect of the experience was earthshattering, a decent three-course meal, with a glass of champagne, for £27 (all-in) is, certainly not to be sniffed at.
(Footnote: Bank recently acquired Conran's ever under-performing Zinc chain, so fingers crossed for a rise in standards there.)
45 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6BS
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lunch noon - 2.45 pm, dinner 5.30 pm - 10.30 pm
Last orders: 11 pm