We’ve all been there. You booked tickets for Hamilton what feels like a decade ago and then, kind of, forgot about it. Now the big day has finally rolled around and you’re wondering which Central London restaurant might possibly be able to squeeze you in for dinner before 7pm. Well, fear not. Thankfully London’s restaurateurs are well versed in the needs of pre-theatre diners. And, while we’d never judge you for opting for a great burger or one of London’s best pizzas, we’ve found the restaurants offering pre-theatre menus that are a little more special.
For fine European: Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden
The restaurant: Routinely voted London’s most romantic restaurant, you’ll almost certainly recognise Clos Maggiore – and its fairytale-like dining room complete with indoor blossom – from many an Instagram post. Taking its design and cuisine cues from the traditions of Provence and Tuscany, book well in advance – head chef Marcellin Marc’s food is very much in demand.
The food: Offering most pre- and post-theatre menus starting at £25 for two courses and including a glass of bubbles, Clos Maggiore’s Provençal-inspired dishes will leave you spoiled for choice. Perhaps you’ll opt for cured beetroot and Scottish salmon gravadlax followed by pan roasted Windsor Royal Park venison fillet and a Conference pear and quince crumble from the pre-theatre menu. Or maybe it will be a late night supper of Puglian burrata, hand rolled pappardella and fresh truffle finished with a soft Jamaican coconut and vanilla cake from the post-theatre list?
Closest theatre: Wyndham’s Theatre – currently showing Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt
For modern British: Aster, Victoria
The restaurant: This expansive restaurant in the heart of Victoria’s ever-expanding hospitality scene comprises a cafe, deli, cocktail bar and restaurant, so it’s a good bet whatever the occasion. Operated by hospitality behemoth D&D, you’re guaranteed a good time thanks to its menu of comforting modern British classics, extensive wine list and an impressive cocktail menu for pre-show libations.
The food: Offering two courses for £20 or three courses for £30 on its theatre menu, it’s almost impossible to leave Aster without feeling extremely well fed. A varied range of options for each course includes smoked salmon with potato rösti, butterfly whole seabass with sauce vierge, a signature house burger and a twice-baked cheesecake or cheese board to finish.
Closest theatre: Victoria Palace Theatre – currently showing Hamilton
For French: Frenchie, Covent Garden
The restaurant: Opened by chef-patron Greg Marchand in 2016, Frenchie takes its name, not just from the cuisine its serves, but also from the nickname given to Marchand by former boss Jamie Oliver during his time as head chef at Fifteen. It is this experience, along with time spent in the kitchens at the Mandarin Oriental and Gramercy Tavern, that Marchand brings to the London outpost of his Paris restaurant – to much acclaim.
The food: Frenchie’s pre- and post-theatre menus start at £29 for two courses and offer a whirlwind tour of great French dishes executed with modern flair. Sample dishes include smoked sea bream tartare with chive sabayon, kohlrabi and horseradish, Welsh venison leg with Jerusalem artichoke, quince and trompette and a dessert of banoffee, nutmeg and caramelised pecan.
Closest theatre: Royal Opera House – currently showing Onegin
For Indian: Kahani, Belgravia
The restaurant: Founded by former Tamarind head chef Peter Joseph, this contemporary Indian restaurant is inspired by Joseph’s childhood in Tamil Nadu. Fresh, seasonal British ingredients are paired with the vibrant spices and techniques of Indian cooking to create dishes designed to celebrate the Asian tradition of communal eating.
The food: Served from 5.30-6.30pm, Kahani’s pre-theatre menu offers a hit list of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Highlights include baby poussin tandoori, saag paneer tossed with onion-tomato masala and a sago and tender coconut stew for dessert. Prices start at £18.50 for two courses.
Closest theatre: The Royal Court – currently showing Scenes With Girls
For seafood: J Sheekey, Covent Garden
The restaurant: J Sheekey has been one of London’s pre-eminent restaurants since 1896 and is so famed for its fine seafood that it scarcely needs an introduction. Thanks to its proximity to the West End, it’s also one of the capital’s best restaurants for spotting stars of stage and screen tucking into the restaurant’s exemplary lobster Thermidor.
The food: A post- rather than pre-theatre menu is served at J Sheekey from 9.30pm with prices starting at £25 for two courses. Like we said, seafood is the name of the game here, so we’d suggest ordering the Cornish monkfish and mussel stew or Sheekey’s fish pie. The roast Devonshire chicken and twice baked Keens Cheddar soufflé also come highly recommended for those that aren’t fish fans.
Closest theatre: London Coliseum – currently showing Carmen
For sushi: Sushisamba, Covent Garden
The restaurant: Now boasting six venues across the world, including locations in Miami, Dubai and Amsterdam, Sushisamba is a sure fire bet when it comes to the notoriously hit and miss world of good sushi. The emphasis here is on the raw food traditions of Brazil, Peru and Japan, so expect a more varied menu than purist sushi restaurants, as well as the use of unexpected ingredients such as yuca, plantain, truffle and sweet potato.
The food: Available from 3-6pm every weekday, Sushisamba’s pre-theatre menu offers two dishes for £28 or three for £32. Eschewing the classic tapas serving style of its a la carte menu, instead choose from larger plates including sea bass usuzukuri with avocado, wasabi bonito dressing and jalapeno, crispy pork belly taquitos, Peruvian-style chicken teriyaki potato causas with crispy shallots and chocolate banana cake with maple butter and plantain chips.
Closest theatre: Lyceum Theatre – currently showing The Lion King
For international classics: Christopher’s, Covent Garden
The restaurant: Housed in a sprawling Grade II-listed building overlooking Waterloo Bridge, Christopher’s is set over three ornate floors – including an Art Deco martini bar and underground club – and provides the perfect starting point for a memorable night. The food is overseen by chef Francis Agyepong and offers a range of American-inflected fine dining classics.
The food: Starting at £22 for two courses, Christopher’s pre- and post-theatre menu promises a sophisticated start to an evening of culture. There’s an Argentinean steak and a Catch of the Day, as well as confit chicken with wild mushrooms or rigatoni with tomato, diced courgette and aubergine. Finish with a chocolate, peanut butter and caramel or warm peach and almond tart.
Closest theatre: Novello Theatre – currently showing Mamma Mia
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