Where in the hell is my discounted lunch? These dark days as retailers are dropping prices ridiculously in a mad bid not to be the next front page news and everyone is living under the threat of being fired, consumers are starting to expect a little bit more in the discount department.
The only thing it seems the recession hasn’t hit yet is the lunch places around the West End. Dining destinations I’d frequented without a hint of worry mid 2008 now seem extravagant in the credit crunch and must be considered a rare ‘treat’. It’s not all bad though, tightening the belt definitely makes you consider the value of these places. My frequent sushi lunch spot, off Hanover Square does good take out sushi at about £3-5 for a box of six pieces, but throw in a drink and it’s nearly a tenner. Is it worth it? Not really and the staff have been quite surly of late, they no longer allow you to eat the ‘go’ boxes at the counter seats. Tsk, tsk! My favourite salad place, California, has delicious, fresh ingredients and you can get a salad base with 4 toppings for about £5. But a bit steep for lettuce, tomato, cheese etc.
It seems the big fat cats are kicking ass when it comes to the credit crunch lunch. The food court upstairs at the Plaza on Oxford Street has all these yuppified foodie places beat hands down. Mc Donald’s and Pizza Hut have great value deals for about £4, the only downside is the fattening, artery clogging side effects. On shows like Jamie’s Ministry of Food, the poor, berated subjects often argue that ‘healthy’ food is more expensive than takeouts. While it’s not true about raw veggies from the supermarket, it is definitely the case if you are eating out. I paid £4.75 for a baked potato ‘meal’ at Spud U Like in the Plaza, eh hello… £4 for a potato?! I could get a sack of ’em for about a quid in Tescos. The worst thing was I only wanted the potato, with cheese and beans, relatively harmless, but it was cheaper to get the meal (incl: fizzy drink and 2 pieces of garlic bread). Basically to make it cheaper, I had to make it unhealthier! Argue with that one Jamie!
Today I hit up Mexicali on Berwick Street, a Tex-Mex joint that always has a queue outside. With major burrito cravings, I ordered the Garden Veg Burrito and added sour cream. A wallet-emptying £5.20 with 30p extra for sour cream and £1 for a bottle of water. £6.50, that’s only 34p less than the jumper I had just got on sale at the Gap!
Admittedly it was pretty tasty, the burrito base is a rolled flour tortilla with shredded lettuce, cheese, tomato salsa and refried pinto beans, with sweet potato, carrot and courgette and a handful of tortilla chips on the side. The Garden Veg was a little spicy making me glad I’d shelled out for the water, next time I’m going to try the, hopefully less spicy, rice and beans filling.
2009 will definitely be the year of the belt tightening, but hopefully eating out less will mean the belt notches might be a couple of sizes smaller too! So unless they lower their inflated prices, probably no more fancy foodie lunches for me, it’ll be bring your own and discovering places like Cha Cha Moon off Carnaby Street, fantastic Asian food at £3.50 a plate.
Mexicali also offers chicken and beef options on their tacos, burritos, enchilades, taco soup and other kinds of wraps.
Review of Cha Cha Moon to come, once I can convince poverty stricken co-workers to accompany me!