The theatre in London is, and always has been, an occasion that’s honoured with due formality. It’s not just about enjoying a great performance staged within a grand, baroque setting. A trip to the West End would be incomplete without a pre-theatre banquet. The tradition of theatre dining dates back to the days of Marlowe and Shakespeare, but it really attained perfection around the turn of the 20th century. Now, a pre-theatre refreshment or dinner is as integral to the West End experience as the show itself.
At The Rubens at the Palace and Hotel 41, we have taken advantage of our sublime location. Being five minutes from Victoria’s celebrated theatres—now home to musical sensations such as Hamilton and Wicked—we have created a repertoire of pre- and post-theatre dining experiences. These celebrate London’s theatre-going heritage, while exploring new directions in which to take it.
Royal Afternoon Tea at The Palace Lounge
To the left of The Rubens’ grand entrance lies The Palace Lounge, our bright and atmospheric sitting room bedecked with gilded furniture and luxuriant upholstery. The Palace Lounge is so named for Buckingham Palace’s Royal Palace Mews, over which it enjoys intimate views from its floor-to-ceiling windows.
During the Royal Afternoon Tea, the parlour resembles a scene from The Importance of Being Earnest—perfect for setting a pre-theatre ambience. Palatial silver cake stands bear bouquets of sandwiches, macarons, pastries and sweets, while cut-crystal flutes sparkle with Champagne and Georgian-style teapots distil our artisan selection of Sri Lankan tisanes. Guests with dietary restrictions are indulgently catered for.
Informal drinks and dining at bbar
Beneath The Rubens’ living wall is the South African restaurant: bbar. A modern interior combined with delicious signature dishes—including artisan burgers, freshly caught fish of the day and hearty salads—offers guests a fresh mode of pre-theatre dining. A relaxed take on the traditional afternoon tea may be enjoyed at leisure, or there’s our pre-theatre menu, which has been designed for matinee dining. Dishes are wholesome and satisfying but light and slow-release, perfect to savour before a scintillating three-hour show nearby.
Best of British at The English Grill
The English Grill is The Rubens’ take on Buckingham Palace’s ornate dining rooms. Here, elegant banquettes and plush cerulean armchairs perch around white-clothed tables laid with Edwardian-style silverware. Meanwhile, still-life masterpieces on the walls, each individually selected, complement ornate cornicing and Murano-glass chandeliers.
Pride of place, however, is the grand centrepiece table, lavishly laid with freshly baked loaves and fruits, and illumined by antique candelabras, one of which was formerly used in the Windsor Castle dining rooms. In addition, The English Grill has an open-plan kitchen, so guests can observe the theatrical finesse of chefs at work on the Josper Grill. The pre-theatre menu has an emphasis on grilled and pan-fried British classics.
Authentic flavours at The Curry Room
The Curry Room combines the vivid flavours of the Indian subcontinent with those of South Africa. Its spices are imported from India to ensure freshness and authenticity. Meanwhile, it takes its recipe inspirations from Executive Chef Arun Kumar, with masterful spicing bringing to life the Indian classics for a pre-theatre occasion.
In addition to the incomparable flavours, few pre-theatre dining interiors are as stunning. Designed with Rajasthani influences, The Curry Room combines rich fabrics, hand-beaten copper servers and crisp linen tablecloths with Mughal court-inspired paintings and hand-embroidered wall-hangings.
To complete a theatrical occasion, return to The Rubens for a stylish nightcap, complete with live music and a sensational selection of snacks, should you desire. At The Leopard Bar, take in boutique leopard-print interiors and deep-buttoned banquettes while you enjoy freshly prepared sushi and sashimi, delightfully presented in Murano glass stands. The Leopard Bar’s emphasis on whisky and Champagne (even vintages are available by the glass) accompanies the live jazz and swing which plays throughout the intimate hours of the evening.
Or there’s The New York Bar, draped in military British scarlets and golds. Bar menu classics, signature cocktails, gin tasting experiences, sake and freshly prepared sushi cater to every post-theatre craving. Meanwhile, an emphasis on old-fashioned hospitality transports guests back to the hey-day of New York’s grand lounges. Live jazz contributes to the old-fashioned elegance throughout the evening.