I hope that wherever you are you are getting to enjoy some of this glorious May sunshine (even if it’s just a five minute glare in between hail storms!).
When the sun is out, there’s nothing I like more than wander the streets of London’s West End because, not only are Londoners generally more congenial when temperatures go over 15˚C, but I love the fact that the bars, cafés and restaurants are all jostling for the best table pitches on the pavements.
There’s no better way to have a reasonably leisurely pre-theatre dinner sitting outside with a cold beer or glass of wine, watching the world go by, soaking up all the exciting sights and sounds London has to offer.
A good percentage of Theatreland’s many eateries offer a set pre-theatre meal – with some offering post-theatre menus, too – from 6pm leaving you plenty of time to have an un-rushed two-course dinner arriving at the theatre with ample opportunity to order your intervals drinks and settle in your seats.
For those of you visiting theatres in the Aldwych area including the Lyceum (Disney’s The Lion King), the Duchess (Bakersfield Mist), the Novello (Mamma Mia!) and the Aldwych (Wolf Hall/Bring Up the Bodies) our top recommendations would be the fine pizza at Fire & Stone in Maiden Lane (Covent Garden underground) or The Strand Carvery on The Strand (Charing Cross underground) offering a cold buffet of seafood, asparagus, home-made terrines, quiches and salads plus roast meats with accompanying hot side dishes.
In West End “central”, you are spoilt for choice with a number of fabulous, well-priced restaurants from the glitz of Planet Hollywood to the Asian delights of Soho Thai.
If you are making a family trip to the theatre, our recommendation would be aforementioned Planet Hollywood, on the Haymarket, offering burgers, spaghetti and grilled chicken in the surrounds of cool movie memorabilia from James Bond films, Star Wars, Die Hard and the Terminator.
Other great eats in the area are (in no particular order):
1. Bincho Yakitori, Old Compton Street, which offers modern Japanese food cooked on a charcoal grill on view to the customers. As well as chicken and seafood skewers, there is also a good vegetarian option.
2. Ruby Blue in Leicester Square cooks a range of dishes from all corners of the world including their signature BBQ rib racks, burgers, fajitas and veggie curries.
3. Leon de Bruxelles, Cambridge Circus, sitting opposite The Cambridge theatre where energetic musical The Commitments is currently playing. As the name suggests, it’s a Belgium restaurant offering the finest mussel dishes as well as tradition fish and chips and, on my visit, an excellent butternut squash risotto (although this changes daily).
5. Salvador and Amanda, Great Newport Street, five minutes walk from Leicester Square has a great Spanish atmosphere and fantastic tapas dishes to suit all palates.
Should you be taking the family, friends or loved one a little further South to see either Wicked or Billy Elliot, do not fear… Victoria boasts some excellent bars and restaurants all within walking distance of the tube/mainline station and both theatres.
For families Prezzo Victoria offers a warm welcome to children as does the Old Masters Carvery which is housed in The Rubens at the Palace Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road.
The former is a chain of Italian restaurants which serves good quality pizza and pasta dishes and the Old Masters is a traditional carvery with a appetising vegetarian option always available.
If dining as a couple or with friends, we can recommend 2 Bridge Place in the Doubletree by Hilton London-Victoria hotel serving pre-theatre set menus of meat, poultry and seafood; the BBar & Restaurant (pictured left) claims to have over 110 wines and 60 cocktail available to customers as well as offering burgers, chicken schnitzel and ravioli in the way of food.
Another place I can personally recommend is The Brasserie at the Grosvenor hotel slap bang next door to the Victoria station. This imposing building is a amazing from the outside and just as regal inside. The Brasserie has a really nice atmosphere with very good service. The kitchen is overseen by Executive Chef Robert Prendergast offering sumptuous steaks and other speciality signature dishes.
So there you have it… eating in London in a nutshell. But don’t trust my word for it… you can book all these restaurants with theatre tickets on our sister-site London Show
Enjoy the weather…