A night enjoying London’s world-renowned theatre – whether you’re planning to watch an all-singing, all-dancing musical in the West End or a cutting edge adaptation of a Greek tragedy in Islington – can only be improved upon by one thing: indulging in an incredible meal before the curtain goes up. With many of the city’s best restaurants offering delicious set menus for just such an occasion, these are our favourite restaurants for pre-theatre dining in London. Stay with us at one our boutique London hotels and you’ll be within easy reach of them all.
Café Murano Covent Garden
Chef Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano Covent Garden opened its doors near The Royal Opera House this year to the great excitement of many happy theatregoers. Much like its sister restaurants, the food here is perfectly prepared and packed with flavour, and the pre-theatre menu, with mouth watering plates like stone bass with pickled cauliflower, raisins and pine nuts, shows it off to great acclaim.
Perfectly placed for a night at the Victoria Palace or the Apollo Victoria, bbar & Restaurant next to The Rubens Hotel offers a delectable pre-theatre menu including dishes like biltong pâté with bouchette noir and baby radish. And with talented mixologists behind the bar (not to mention a well-stocked wine cellar), you’ll be tempted to stay and skip the theatre altogether.
The fine English cuisine at Butler’s Restaurant at the luxurious Chesterfield Mayfair makes for elegant pre-theatre dining in London. The set menu is a veritable parade of fresh, seasonal food, from the catch of the day at Billingsgate Market to vegetables sourced from nearby Covent Garden Market. Make sure to leave room for Bea Tollman’s cheesecake before heading down the road to Theatreland.
Got tickets to Islington’s acclaimed Almeida Theatre? Look no further than Almeida Restaurant for your pre-theatre fare. Located just over the road from the playhouse, the food philosophy here is distinctly British but with a creative, modern twist. The three course pre-theatre menu offers plenty of options, though the slow cooked pork belly with quince, cabbage and turnip salad is a particular favourite.
When the food critics are sighing with epicurean delight over somewhere, you know you’re in for a treat. And a Michelin star doesn’t hurt either. Arbutus is such a restaurant. The pre-theatre menu here changes frequently, but you can trust that the dishes – whether it’s ceviche of Cornish mackerel or fresh sheep’s ricotta gnudi – will be masterful and delicious.
Just a short walk from the theatres of Piccadilly, this Soho-based restaurant by Mark Hix places the focus on provenance and the seasons for each elegant plate put out. The pre-theatre menu at Hix Soho reflects this signature fare, giving diners the choice between a two or three-course meal, encompassing dishes like chargrilled Lyme Bay cuttlefish, and Paddock Farm Tamworth pork sausage.
Everyone knows The Ivy: it’s one of the grand dames of the London restaurant scene. But fresh from a recent renovation earlier this year, The Ivy is grander than ever before and the menu has had a thorough spruce, with more tantalising Asian influences now in evidence. The set menu here ends at 6pm Monday to Thursday (but available all Sunday), so make sure you get here early.
Love Indian cuisine? Then make a beeline for the Michelin-starred contemporary Indian restaurant Gymkhana and its decadent four-course early evening menu for the ultimate in pre-theatre dining in London. And for added indulgence, why not try award wining sommelier Sunaina Sethi’s wine pairing with your meal?
Dining from the delicious seasonal set menu at the National Portrait Gallery’s Portrait Restaurant puts you in ambling distance of not just world-class art, but also some of London’s top theatres. In the space of a few short hours you can enjoy the best of Britain – from its cheese to its art and theatre, too.
Minutes from the West End, J. Sheekey is the perfect choice for romantic pre-theatre dining in London. Settle in to enjoy a platter of oysters and a bottle of fine wine with your special someone, before enjoy an evening show.
After your deliciously cultural evening, stroll back to the elegant environs of one of our boutique London hotels to enjoy a nightcap in the bar. With impressive wine lists, innovative cocktails, and atmospheric surrounds, it’s the perfect way to end the perfect night in London.
Header image: Treat yourself to the creme brulee at Almeida Restaurant © Almeida