Curtains up! Pre-theatre dining in Covent Garden

To talk of dinner and a show in London is to talk of an evening or afternoon spent knee-deep in London’s culture. Consumed, as it can be, every which way (via the mouth, the eyes, the ears, the nose – or all the above). If you’re heading to Covent Garden, here are a few ideas for your pre-theatre supper.

Le Garrick
If you’re an expat of France, or have fond memories of Paris, you’ll feel right at home at this Diners’ Choice award-wining restaurant. The traditional menu is written in French, served up by French staff, amidst some decidedly French décor. The pre-theatre menu (2 courses for £13.95 or 3 for £16.95) includes Gallic favourites like steak frites, cassoulet, and moules marinières.

Boulevard Brasserie
Not that much of a Francophile? Then maybe Boulevard Brasserie is more for you – the restaurant has been known to serve up crowd-pleasers like cod and chips alongside its boeuf bourguignon (turns out, contrary to history, the British and French do get along). BB’s pre-theatre menu starts from £15.95 for a starter and main.

Flesh & Buns
Where the highbrow and lowbrow come together, Flesh & Buns is sophisticated Japanese fast food. Just like the Japanese drinking dens it imitates, the subterranean restaurant is dark and a bit noisy but that doesn’t matter seeing as you came for the food: crispy fried wings, kinako doughnuts, and steamed buns stuffed with steak, salmon teriyaki, and more. Go before a show and your table can tuck into 2 courses for £22 or 3 for £24.

J Sheekey Atlantic Bar
A slightly more paired back iteration of the adjoining main restaurant, J Sheekey’s Atlantic Bar is a great place for a dip rather than a plunge. While it doesn’t sport a pre-theatre menu per se, our advice is to perch at the bar for a few small dishes (smoked eel croquettes, half a dozen Lindisfarne oysters, etc) and come back for the post-theatre special – fish pie and a glass of wine for £19.75.

The Petersham
Much like its older sister Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, The Petersham is one of London’s most beautiful places to eat, with its big room, big art, chandeliers, and vases of flora. The Italian-inspired pre-theatre menu starts at £27.50 for 2 courses.

Balthazar
Just over the road from the Royal Opera House is this American-accented bistro, transported via its mother site in New York. As a prelude to a show down the road (or over it), dine on the likes of salmon tartare, veal Holstein, and crème brûlée. The prix fixe – available pre- and post-theatre – is a bargain at £19.95 for 2 courses.

Lady of the Grapes
A slight curve-ball here: Lady of the Grapes has no set menu. But what this Covent Garden wine bar lacks in theatre-going conventions it makes up for in just as alluring alternatives. Namely, the cheese, bread, and charcuterie designed to go along with their natural wine.

The Delaunay
Taking its architectural cues from the grand cafes of Europe, The Delaunay’s food leans that way as well, from the schnitzel to the soufflé to the tartare. The restaurant-cum-bar-cum-café is conveniently next door to the Aldwych Theatre, currently showing the Tina Turner musical. If you’re in a rush, try the Menu Rapide – tarte flambée with a salad and a glass of wine or beer for £13.50.

Cinnamon Bazaar
Cinnamon Bazaar is essentially Westminster’s haute Indian restaurant Cinnamon Club made more accessible by the much-loved Vivek Singh. Master mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana (yes, Mr Lyan) makes a cameo appearance too, with a cocktail list created and curated by the man himself. The early evening set menu (2 courses £21, 3 for £24) includes a Cinnamon Bellini.

Visit OpenTable to make a reservation or discover more pre-theatre restaurants in London.

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.