Michelle Grady proves that finding a delicious pre-theatre meal need not be a drama…
Whether you’re seeing a new indie play or well-known production, there’s nothing quite like spending a night at the theatre watching famous faces and potential stars of the future treading the boards. To make it a real treat, enjoying a scrumptious pre-show supper – in a timely fashion, of course, so you’ll be in your seat ready for curtain up – is a must. There’s no need to make a song and dance about finding the perfect venue, though, as there is no shortage of restaurants offering an all-star cast of dishes. Here we present our pick of some of the most exciting upcoming productions, along with restaurants that deserve a standing ovation for their pre-theatre menus.
If you’ve got tickets to see BAFTA-winning James McAvoy in Peter Barnes’ comedy, The Ruling Class, at Trafalgar Studios (you lucky thing, you), then we recommend popping down the road to Boyds Brasserie Bar & Lounge – just moments from the theatre, Trafalgar Square and the Charing Cross, Embankment and Leicester Square tube stations – before the show.
Boyds is one of those rare restaurants that get the balance just right: stylish but never stuffy, elegant yet laid-back, it offers top-quality cuisine and superb wines at surprisingly affordable prices given the sophisticated setting. Glittering chandeliers, high ceilings and plush furnishings set the scene for a rather glamorous pre-show meal. We’re not the only ones who think so, Boyds was voted Diners’ Choice for the fourth time in 2014 for pre-theatre dining. The mouth-watering pre-theatre menu features such delights as braised featherblade of beef with buttered carrots, parsley mash and red wine jus or pan-fried cod fillet with braised leeks, new potatoes and clam and parsley cream sauce for the main course, and sweet treats like creme brulée or apple and raisin crumble with custard that will leave you cheering for an encore.
Boyds is also a top choice if you’re planning on seeing Made in Dagenham, starring Gemma Arterton and running until March, at the Adelphi Theatre, just a ten-minute walk away from this chic brasserie.
You can’t really get much closer to Bristol Hippodrome than this cosy Italian restaurant. It’s tucked away down a little side street by the theatre, right opposite the stage door, so is a prime spot to grab a bite before marvelling at the astonishing puppetry and moving performances of hit production, War Horse, running until 14th February.
Da Vinci serves up authentic, freshly cooked Italian fare at reasonable prices, and its menu is a masterclass in great homely Italian cooking. Start the show with green-shell mussels sautéed with garlic marinara sauce and basil, or vine-ripened tomatoes with fresh mozzarella. Follow with chicken breast in Marsala wine, Parmesan and mushroom sauce – a personal favourite – and finish up with an applause-worthy tiramisu before heading off to the theatre feeling satisfied and ready to be entertained.
An evening spent seeing one of the most popular musicals of all time is a very special evening indeed, so an equally special pre-show dining venue is required. Enter stage left Mr Cooper’s House & Garden by Simon Rogan, a unique venue serving good food cooked with finesse and imagination, located a mere five-minute walk from the theatre.
The House Menu, served between 5pm and 6.30pm, is ideal for theatregoers. Though concise, this regularly changing menu makes choosing tricky as each and every dish sounds delicious. Does spiced pumpkin soup with pearl barley, pumpkin and aniseed dolmades tickle your fancy to start? Or perhaps dill-marinated salmon on blinis with beetroot sabayon? Thought so. The next act offers similarly tempting dishes such as barbecued salmon, crabcakes and tomatoes with a grapefruit and ginger sauce, with delights like caramel tart with mascarpone ice cream for the finale. Take a bow, Mr Cooper’s.
Matthew Bourne is best known for his unique interpretations of classic productions, and this version of Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, running from 10th to 14th February, is one of his best. At the Birmingham Hippodrome’s Circle Restaurant, your meal will be as superbly choreographed as the show itself thanks to the class-act service provided by the front of house staff. The whole experience is built around ensuring your evening out at the theatre runs without a hitch, from the opening scene (a starter of seared scallops with black pudding, tomato dressing and celeriac, perhaps) to the grand denouement (provided by a devilishly good dessert like toffee parfait with whiskey and honey prunes and peanut flapjack). The best thing is, there’s no need to rush your meal, as your table will remain reserved for coffee and desserts during the interval. The reviews are in, and there are five stars all round for Circle Restaurant.