You’re off to the theatre, it’s edging closer to the 7.30 curtain time and you’re at risk of starving to death during a three-hour play (or, at the very least, you want a glass of something to kick the evening off). Don’t panic! London’s restaurants are fully equipped to handle this type of crisis. And we’re here to make your dinner decisions that much easier. Here are the best pre-show dinner menus and most interesting restaurants within minutes of London’s major theatres.
Bocca Di Lupo
Charming, unpretentious and affordable: that’s what you want from a pre-theatre dinner and that’s exactly what makes Soho’s Bocca Di Lupo a great choice. Their workers’ lunch is available every day until 6pm at a very reasonable £12.50 for a starter and main – add on a dessert, a glass of the house wine and a coffee for just a tenner. Fill up on fritti Romani, handmade pasta, salumi and gelati with no anxiety about the bill, and then stroll over to your show in loads of time.
12 Archer St, London W1D 7BB
The buzzing Cora Pearl (from the people behind Mayfair’s smash hit Kitty Fisher’s) is one to keep on your list for the chips alone: layered, baked in butter and thyme, and deep-fried for a chip like no other. Of course there are other reasons to go too – for the proximity to many of London’s theatres and the rest of the modern British menu. And their pre-theatre dinner, at £23 for two and £27 for three courses, is not too budget-unfriendly either.
30 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8NA
The Covent Garden branch of this Japanese-Brazilian-Peruvian fusion restaurant may not boast the same views you get over at Heron Tower, but it does have pre-theatre menus, with the option to choose between a two-course (at £28) and a three-course (at £32) meal. Expect samba rolls, robata salmon and chocolate banana cake for dessert. This one’s ideal if you’re off to the Theatre Royal, Aldwych Theatre or Duchess Theatre.
35 The Market, London WC2E 8RF
Swan at the Globe
Swan at the Globe didn’t have to be *that* good a restaurant being, as it is, at the historic Globe – automatically making it a destination. But, thankfully, it is. The menu is classic British to complement that history, featuring the likes of ham hock terrine with piccalilli & sourdough toast; Welsh lamb with wild garlic, mint & lovage sauce; and Bakewell tart with damson jam & creme fraiche. Everything is delivered speedily and you are literally spitting distance from the Globe, so there’s no danger of you missing curtains up.
21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT
Modern Indian restaurant Gunpowder has grown from one tiny Spitalfields spot to three sites across London but it’s their Tower Bridge location that serves as a great spot for some pre-theatre sustenance. Just round the corner from the Bridge Theatre, Gunpowder has a condensed menu of the restaurant’s faves such as Bengali beetroot croquettes; whole duck leg with Andhra-style sambal & parsnips; and saag with tandoori paneer. Get two courses for £22 or three for £25 plus a full drinks pairing at £25 per person.
4 Duchess Walk, London SE1 2SD
Joe Allen has been a known haunt of theatregoers and thespians alike for years, so naturally it’s the perfect place to drop in for a bite before a show. It’s a classic but un-snooty New York-style brasserie with a menu of comforting familiar faves, like slow-braised smoked baby back ribs, sausages & mash and New York cheesecake to name a few. It may have moved from its original Exeter Street home but its rep as the beating heart of the West End has remained intact.
2 Burleigh St, London WC2E 7PX
Brasserie Zédel is a West End institution with all the authenticity and desirability of a highfalutin Parisian brasserie minus the price tag. That’s right, you can have a three-course meal in the centre of town at a glamorous restaurant that has existed in the same spot since 1915 for about £30 a head (and it’s possible to go even cheaper!) And then it’s minutes to the West End theatre of your choice. Zédel is beloved for a reason.
20 Sherwood St, London W1F 7ED
Pre-theatre dining doesn’t get much more convenient than eating inside an actual theatre, and that’s exactly what’s offer at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. There’s The Garden, a cafe serving up seasonal snacks, small plates, cheese or meat boards and desserts. Or, for a complete theatrical experience, have a Marie Antoinette-esque afternoon tea in the Grand Saloon, designed by London cake goddess Lily Vanilli, with all the frilly, pastel cakes, intricate sandwiches and teapots you could ever want.
Catherine St, London WC2B 5JF