When a friend suggests dinner out in Kensington, two Pavlov-esque reactions occur.  Sure, you salivate at the thought of Bibendum or The Ledbury; of tasting menus, the finest of fine wine and that cuttlefish and tripe dish, or the latter’s much revered brown sugar tart. The second reaction though, is to caress your wallet as you would a baby you wish to protect from harm. You then remember you had plans and let your friend down gently.

It shouldn’t have to be this way. Though Kensington is synonymous with luxury and opulence, and much of the restaurant scene is more than happy to cater to the stereotype, there is in fact plenty on offer in the lower-budget range, without the dreaded forfeiting of flavour and fun. So if you’re craving good food and drink but without the fuss of fine-dining, we’re here to help. Here are 5 IDEAL spots for fun and casual dining in Kensington.

Cast Iron Bar & Grill

With its beautiful design and layout, combined with an excellent menu that is comprised largely of British-table staples, the Cast Iron Bar & Grill is one of the best affordable restaurants in Kensington. Set under a stunning hanging glass atrium, it has a light, airy feel and a menu that is heavy on the comfort classics, like steak and chips or a chicken and leek pie. The choice of drinks and service are acclaimed.

Websitewww.marriott.co.uk

Address: 147c Cromwell Rd, Earls Court, London SW5 0TH

Kensington Place

Kensington Place on Kensington Church Street has become something of an institution in the area. With its pretty diner-style design and a seafood-heavy menu featuring fresh from the market, seasonal options alongside fish pies, fish’n’chips et al. Expect a warm welcome and plenty of regulars; it’s the kind of place that invites fierce loyalty from its fanbase, and we can see why. The fish cooking is executed calmly and with respect, just as it should be.

Websitewww.kensingtonplace-restaurant.co.uk

Address: 201 Kensington Church St, London

© Kensington Place

Zaika

Zaika has much going for it. A looming, imposing setting in a former bank with traditional wood paneling, jovial, jolly vibes and excellent traditional Indian food, Zaika is one of Kensington’s finest, and won’t break the bank (too badly) either. With so many places doing Indian food in the area, Zaika stands out for its unique look and refined menu. The vegetarian game is strong here; always a plus in our book, and staff sashay around the room with elegance and non-interference.

Website: www.zaikaofkensington.com

Address: 1 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 5NP

Go-Viet

We love Vietnamese food deeply and dearly, and Go Viet gets much closer to the real thing than some of the chanier places springing up all over London of late. It’s eminently affordable too – you can get a pho for under 8 quid – and perfect for a quick lunchtime pitstop in between a day’s shopping.

Websitevietnamfood.co.uk

Address: 53 Old Brompton Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 3JS

© Go-Viet

The Shed

Whilst not exactly cheap, what you get in terms of food, drink and service here is superb value for money, all day long and any day of the week. A younger brother to the much loved Rabbit on King’s Road, the emphasis here is on small plates of hyper-seasonal, farm-to-table cooking (is it ever not?). The delivery of this message is concise and just a little crafty (pork cigars anyone?). Its no frills decor and reasonable price, when bearing in mind the excellence of the produce and affluence of the area, make it a very viable option when in Kensington. Even if you’re not, it’s worth the journey.

Websitewww.theshed-restaurant.com

Address122 Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington, London W8 4RT

Top Image © Zaika