As London’s beloved theater scene revives and – we hope – enters a period of normalcy, we’re starting to think about where to get that coveted pre-theatre meal. That awkward early-evening time slot may feel prohibitively expensive, but some of the capital’s best restaurants have brilliant menus that will not only get you to the stalls on time, but also serve up some of their finest delicacies. Advance reservations are often a must, so here’s our pick of the best spots in town for your pre-theater enjoyment.
Since opening last summer, Sucre has quickly become one of Soho’s biggest draws. Famous for its elegant design and lively atmosphere; The main draw is undoubtedly the Argentinian-inspired flavors of chef Fernando Trocca’s dishes. Now Sucre has launched its first before (and after) the theater menu: a fixed price (£29 for 2 courses or £34 for 3 courses) of the restaurant’s most tempting dishes. Among them are some of Sucre’s hitters, like their famous aged cheddar, chili and onion empanadas, and wild mushroom paella.
sugar, 47B Great Marlborough Street, W1F 7JP
Pivot, Covent Garden
Located on the first floor at 3 Henrietta Street, Pivot is the latest introduction from Scottish chef Mark Greenaway. It is conveniently located near Theatreland and is the ideal spot for a pre-curtain meal. The menu, which costs £45 for a three course meal with a wine pairing of £30, is available Tuesday to Thursday from 5pm to 6.30pm. Offerings include some of Greenaway’s most popular signature dishes; hand-dipped scallop with dashi broth, a haggis-stuffed Roscoff onion on potato mousse, and beetroot Wellington with traditional carrot and puff pastry. Finish off with cheese or dessert before hitting the theater…
Pivot point, 3 Henrietta St, WC2E 8LU
Bocco di Lupo, Soho
A Soho institution, this Italian restaurant oozes atmosphere and charm. The food is equally delicious; with classic dishes served in a unique, self-titled “Italian Tapas” style with small plates for sharing. Conveniently located around the corner from several of the West End’s best theatres, it is an ideal choice. Workers Lunch, Bocca di Lupo’s set menu, is served until 7pm and costs £12.50 for a starter, main course and salad, or £22.50 plus dessert, a glass of wine and coffee. The daily changing menu offers dishes from spaghetti al nero di seppia to a boozy tiramisu.
Bocco di Lupa, 12 Archer Street, W1D 7BB
Whitcombs, Leicester Square
The arrival of the London hotel in the capital’s brightest and busiest square has certainly brought a dose of luxury and excitement. Among the hotel’s many restaurants, Whitcomb’s is the superlative. The restaurant on the ground floor serves French and Mediterranean cuisine and offers a great pre-theater menu perfectly suited to its enviable central location. Available for pre-theatre lunches and dinners, you can choose between two courses and a companion for £32 or three courses and a companion for £38. The menu features tarte au fromage with gorgonzola foam and thyme, carpaccio de boeuf with black truffle and lemon zest, and risotto au poussin with creamy Arborio rice. Get ready to roll to the theater.
Whitcombs, 38 Leicester Square, WC2H 7DX
Joe Allen, Covent Garden
Affectionately known as the ‘West End staff canteen’, Joe Allen’s has been a favorite with theatergoers (and performers) since 1977 and is home to national favorites Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian Mcckeln and Joanna Lumley, among others. It’s the ideal spot for a pre- (or post-) performance meal, with an American-style menu based on its New York origins. Executive Chef Gary Lee, previously at The Ivy and The Dorchester, is currently at the helm of the kitchen creating his own interpretation of Joe Allen’s signatures; a full shelf of oak-smoked babyback ribs with raw coleslaw, the classic Caesar salad, and their not-so-secret off-menu burger.
Joe Allen, 2 Burleigh Street, WC2E 7PX
Rotunda Bar and Lounge, Tower Bridge
The elegant bar and restaurant at Four Season’s Ten Trinity Square may seem a far cry from the West End, but it has just launched a pre-theatre menu in exclusive collaboration with the brilliant Bridge Theatre, available until the end of April. From smoked salmon with tobiko and wasabi cream to lamb shank with potato croquettes and warm apple and rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream, all the Rotunda classics are on offer. The menu is available seven days a week from 5.30pm to 7pm and can be ordered in two courses (£38) or three courses (£45). Guests are asked to present a valid Bridge Theater ticket upon arrival.
Rotunda Bar and Lounge, 10 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ
Wun’s Tea Room, Soho
Paying homage to the cafés of 1960s Hong Kong, Wun’s Tea Room sets the mood for an evening with an exciting menu full of classic and surprising Cantonese dishes. Its location and variety of small, quick dishes make it a great choice for an early dinner before heading to the theater. Menus are packed with flavors from Founder Z’s childhood, like sugar skin Iberico pork, Char, fried chicken with kung pao butter, and cumin lamb ribs. Those looking for a post-theater treat would do well to head downstairs to the neon-lit bar, which serves lesser-known Chinese liquors and house-made rice wine.
Wun’s tea room, Greek Street 23, W1D 4DZ
Gunpowder, Tower Bridge
In another brilliant collaboration with the Bridge Theatre, Gunpowder offers theatergoers pre or post theater dining for guests dining with proof of ticketing. The popular Indian restaurant serves a good value two course option for £18 or three courses for £23. All your favorites are in place, from Bengali beetroot croquettes; Saag with tandoori paneer and chocolate brownies. The menu is available from Monday to Saturday.
gunpowder, 4 Herzoginweg, SE1 2SD
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