Whether it’s to furnish the belly with top-drawer grub before a trip to the theatre, or you just like hard-to-beat value when it comes to dining out, these West End restaurants have you covered.
Brasserie Zedel — Zedel doesn’t like to sing its own praises – you’ll never see them shouting about their superb coq au vin from the rooftops. Maybe that’s because all the good stuff’s underground – the majority of the grandiose 220-cover restaurant is sub-terrain, where you’ll find French classics at ludicrously affordable prices. That especially goes for the prix fixe menu, at two courses for under a tenner.
Quo Vadis — Soho – nay, London’s – dining institution is going on 90 years. And it looks as good for its age as it does for its set menu’s prices. Simple, delicious dishes put together with straight up British ingredients? Sure. How about three courses for £22? Yes please. When it comes to stripped down British fare, this, ladies and gentlemen, is as good as it gets.
Clos Maggiore — Clos Maggiore may well lure you in from the state of its conservatory alone. The room at the ‘world’s most romantic restaurant’ boasts blooming flowers, a log fire, and all the enchantment that goes with it. When booking, ask for the conservatory by all means, but expect a sincere apology – it’s probably booked up. No matter – the 3-course pre-theatre menu (£32.50) will have you swooning, regardless of what room you’re dining in.
The Savoy Grill — The Savoy Grill’s collection of menus is as long as your arm – there’s 11 of them, from a vegan menu right down to the Sunday roasts. Needless to say, The Savoy Grill, in all its classic 1920s glory, is up to the challenge of catering for anyone and everyone. No less so than with its pre-theatre choices, including the likes of charcoal-grilled sirloin with game chips, and – of course – sticky toffee pudding. (2 courses £31, 3 for £35).
Hawksmoor — Usually, you’d come to Hawksmoor for the great big slabs of native breed beef, finely tuned to the omnivore’s palate. Chateaubriand, rib-eye, and T-bone. While it’s difficult not to salivate over the ultra-prime cuts, Hawksmoor’s widely accepted as one of the best places for steak, which ever part of the cow you’re eating from. Which is where the Express Menu – featuring sea bream and dry-aged rump – beautifully comes in. (2 courses £25, 3 for £28).
Margot — Despite being fairly fresh out the box, this Italian joint in the middle of Covent Garden is a ‘ready-made classic’, according to Giles Coren. Few would argue. Especially when it comes to the food, which for the most part is Italian at its most tried and tested. See the likes of Parma ham with Sicilian melon, rocket and balsamic vinegar; or gramigna pasta with asparagus, red onions, and Pecorino Romano on the prix fixe menu, for instance. (2 courses £25, 3 for £29).
Spring — Theatre usually comes with some thought-provoking sentiment, or a comment on the status quo and a call for change. The same is true at Skye Gyngell’s Spring in Somerset House. The pre-theatre ‘Scratch’ menu is put together from otherwise unwanted produce, whether it’s the wrong shape or carries a natural blemish or two. Ingredients, subsequently, are much cheaper (though of no lesser quality), as is reflected in the £20 rotating 3-course menu.
Café Murano — Murano, as you may well know, is the brainchild of the much-celebrated chef verging on national treasure Angela Hartnett. But for all its virtues, the Mayfarian restaurant doesn’t offer a prix fixe past lunch. Its younger Covent Garden sister, Café Murano, does however. In the same vein as Murano, expect an Anglo-Italian menu of things like braised lamb with polenta, celeriac soup with walnuts, and tagliatelle with broccoli and pancetta. (2 courses £17.50, 3 for £22).
This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.