The capital is renowned for its culinary diversity and cultural mix, yet every High Street in the suburbs is a dazzling array of fried chicken shops, kebab shops, pizza delivery and burger joints (or sometimes all three), best viewed from a distance, especially when the local mungwits trundle into them to start fights. The more affluent areas insist on sticking the word 'gourmet' in front of the cafe names, or giving them French titles, but they close early - what's that all about?
So, unless you live in the centre of London, many 'burbs residents have to make do with a British and convenient version of cuisine from around the world, served up in a polystyrene tray with a plastic fork shoved into it. Fancy something a bit more 'high end'? Read on...
The annual London Restaurant Festival 2011 in October, along with other foodie festivals held during the year, strives to change the elitist image of 'dining out', without compromising quality or charging the financial equivalent of a clearing bank. Yes, it's also designed to 'raise the profile of (eating) establishments', but ultimately, it's all about the grub.
Tickets to the events are available at various prices but, if you want to indulge yourself, you could try one of the more unusual events on offer.
As well as participating restaurants and chefs offering exclusive set menus - Angela Hartnett (Murano), Vivek Singh (Cinnamon Club), Bruno Loubet (Bistrot Bruno) and Nuno Mendes (Viajante) spring to mind, most at £75 - you could embark on a Gourmet Odyssey. This involves either catching a chartered Routemaster (£150), or using your feet to burn off the calories (£110) and eating three courses at three different restaurants, all within reasonable distance from each other. For example, one of the walking 'odysseys' (the Covent Garden option) involves eating a set starter in Terroirs, a set main in Les Deux Salons and a set dessert in Clos Maggiore. Other areas involved include Piccadilly, Smithfields and Park Lane.
Other events include Starter for Ten which is a fun foodie quiz previously chaired by the self-styled Queen of Mean, Anne Robinson. This year's quizmaster has yet to be announced, but the venue is the Criterion, the date is 4th October and the price per person (also includes dinner and complimentary glass of wine) is £52.
There will also be a 'Little Film Festival' on 5th, 6th and 13th October, where for £50 you can eat a three-course dinner, drink champagne and watch a film at a hip 5-star hotel, plus several other chefs and restaurants will be releasing tickets in due course - keep checking this page for more choices in the run up to the festival which runs from 3rd to 17th October.