A visit to one of London‘s West End theatres is an essential experience for anyone delving into the city’s thriving arts scene, but with shows usually starting around the mid-evening mark, Theatreland visitors might wonder where to find the best pre-theatre restaurants for a spot of dinner before curtain call. There’s no shortage of dining destinations in this area of London, but it’s often hard to see through the increasing array of chain restaurants that have popped up in recent years. The minefield, however, does contain some of London’s finest and most famous dining institutions – and what’s more, many of them offer pre-theatre set menus that ensure you sample the best of what’s on offer without worrying about the time. The perfect solution to dining on the clock.
A Soho institution dating back to 1867, Kettners has played host to such figures as Bing Crosby, Agatha Christie and Oscar Wilde over the years, so you never know who you might bump into at this elegant brasserie. Their pre-theatre menu is equally as intriguing, with a choice of two (£16.50) or three (£19.50) courses. Better yet, the restaurant is within walking distance of all the major West End theatres – especially convenient if you’re catching a show at the Palace or the Prince Edward Theatre.
Kettners, 29 Romilly St, London W1
Clos Maggiore, London
Pre-theatre dining doesn’t have to be all about rushing and worrying about the time – especially if you come with a date to Clos Maggiore, voted the most romantic restaurant in London. You might forget that you’re in the heart of Theatreland once you step into the unbelievably gorgeous blossom-filled conservatory – open air during the summer, and with a roaring log fire in the winter. Two courses are priced at an incredibly reasonable £15.50 from Sunday to Thursday, and even on Fridays and Saturdays it’s still just £22.50.
Clos Maggiore, 33 King St, London WC2
The Ivy, London
The set menu at The Ivy is a great way to sample the food at one of London’s best haunts for those who want to see and be seen. AA Gill once said that “A table at the Ivy is one of the most sought after pieces of furniture in London” and yet two courses will only set you back £21.75, or three courses for £26.25. The restaurant is open from lunchtime, so there’s no chance of being rushed to make the curtain, especially as it’s located just off the theatre-lined Shaftesbury Avenue. As an added bonus, if you’re after a post-theatre supper The Ivy will park your car for you before the show and keep it safe until you return…
The Ivy, 1-5 West Street, London WC2
Brasserie Blanc, London
You can’t really argue with a pre-theatre, two course menu designed by Raymond Blanc for £14, and nor should you when you also get to eat it in the magnificent setting of Brasserie Blanc in Covent Garden. The brasserie is perched on top of the piazza itself, with a spacious terrace overlooking the busy market below. A perfect destination for simple, fresh, authentically French food, with the Lyceum, Fortune and Theatre Royal conveniently located just around the corner.
Brasserie Blanc, 35 The Market, London WC2