This post is an obvious choice of topic for a once A-Level drama student turned foodie. Since a young age I have been visiting London to watch some of the best shows on in the West End. Musicals are my favourite – my iTunes library is inundated with soundtracks from all of my favourites… Les Miserables, Wicked, The Lion Kind… but I love a good play too, and at the moment the West End is full of exciting new plays each getting rave reviews and featuring some of the best actors of this age (Dames Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, to name but a few). And the wonderful thing about London and the fabulous world of theatre is that it all goes wonderfully well with food. This city is full of amazing restaurants offering special Pre- and Post- theatre menus, meaning you can indulge yourself in Michelin star food at a reasonable price before you go and indulge yourself in something cultural. It’s a beautiful combination.
Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden
I had been wanting to try this restaurant for months after my friends raved about it constantly. Voted London’s most romantic restaurant, the setting itself is stunning, with the main area of restaurant being situated under a conservatory roof, with a trail of flowers and ivy snaking its way up the walls into a canopy above you, and an open fireplace. I have now enjoyed both the pre-theatre and the post-theatre menu and can recommend both, however during the summer months you will find the romantic ambiance is lessened by the still risen sun, but dine in the late evening and you will find the light of the fire and the low elegant mood lighting will help this beautiful restaurant live up to it’s romantic reputation. The theatre menu has a good choice of dishes – you can currently enjoy a starter of Pork Shoulder, a main of Scottish Salmon and a dessert of Apricot, Apple and Hazelnut Crumble, while on the Post- menu, and should might enjoy a plate of Foie Gras to start, Veal Belly as a main and Creme Brulee for dessert (amongst other choices, of course). Add a half bottle of wine to this meal and you will only find yourself parting with a maximum of £26.50 p/h (only £23.50 if you choose to dine Mon-Thurs) An absolute bargain for such a beautiful setting with gorgeous food.
Preceded/Followed by The Bodyguard, The Adelphi Theatre
Having never seen the film I had no idea what to expect, other than a whole lotta Whitney Houston songs and a fair bit of diva attitude. I was right to expect these things, but I wish I had been able to predict that tingly feeling you sometimes get when someone hits an epic high note effortlessly and the whole audience takes a breath at the same time in pure amazement and sheer delight! This show was fantastic, with elements reminiscent of a concert more so than a play. The lead actress has a voice which could carry from The Strand to Shoreditch, and the supporting cast are fantastic too, with great voices and dance moves. If you appreciate powerful vocals and the repetoire of Whitney Houston, you’ll enjoy this show.
Cafe Des Amis, Covent Garden
If you have read my ‘Just Desserts‘ post, then you will already know how fantastic the pudding menu is in this restaurant, but do know that the rest of the menu is pretty decent too. While there is no Pre- Theatre menu in this restaurant, the menu here is available on Taste Card and so the pricing is equal to that of a set menu, but with a bigger choice. When it comes to your starter, you won’t go wrong with the Seared Scallops with Crab Risotto (£11.50), or the Steak Tartare with Hard Boiled Quail’s Egg (£9.50) and for your main course, my favourite dishes include the Homemade Pumpkin Pappardelle, with Sage butter sauce and a Rocket salad (£15.50), as well as the Calf’s Liver, Spinach, crispy Pancetta with a tasty jus (£18.50) The only negative to this place is they haven’t changed the menu since I first dined here over a year ago.
Followed by The Lion King, The Lyceum Theatre
Expect goosebumps and an overwhelming emotional wave hit you at the beginning of this epic show – all the best songs from the hit disney movie, incredible costumes, make-up and staging (the stampede scene will blow your mind) and an incredible chorus that will send shivers through you during the Circle of Life. It’s a classic story that everyone knows (and did you know it’s all based upon the story of Hamlet? Shakespeare is literally everywhere!) and is perfect for people of all ages – it’s the show to see for people who don’t like the theatre, and if you happen to love the theatre then great, you’ll adore this!
The Mango Tree, Victoria
For those who enjoy Thai Cuisine in a fine dining environment, this is a fantastic restaurant to visit. The interior design is elegant and understated and the menu is diverse and well priced. There are many special offers available to you, but for a menu specifically timed so you are able to enjoy it before a show, then the Pre-theatre menu is great. Served only between 6-6.30pm (don’t arrive late, they won’t give you the deal) and priced at only £17 for 2 courses, and £20 for 3, you have the choice of a great selection of traditional Thai dishes, including my favourites Tom Yum with Prawns (a spicy soup) to start, and a wonderfully rich Penang Curry with Beef as a main. While the selection of exotic ice creams and sorbets are tasty, you may wish to deviate from the theatre menu and enjoy their Honey, Mango and Sticky Rice dessert, designed to be enjoyed by two people. It is simply stunning.
Followed by Wicked, Victoria Apollo Theatre
This is my favourite West End musical – so much so that i’ve seen it three times, and would happily go again (and probably will this summer) It’s the story of what happened before Dorothy reached Oz, explaining the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West came to get her title. The music is fantastic (Defying Gravity, you can’t not love that song!) and the story is clever – ever wondered how the Scarecrow became a Scarecrow? You’ll find out in this production. If you happen to have read the book by Gregory Maguire, have no fear – this show doesn’t really bare any resemblance – there are no animal sex sacrifices, and none of your favourite characters will die half way through. It’s a fantastic show that will have you downloading the soundtrack as soon as you get home.
Quaglinos, St James
This elegant basement restaurant is synonymous with style and glamour, and over the years has welcomed royalty, rock stars, members of the high society – and who can be surprised as you walk into a room lined with mirrors, beautiful chandaliers and decadent centre pieces. Walk in and you’re greeted by the sound of a singer who is positioned in the piano bar that overlooks the restaurant, and provides a lovely soundtrack to your meal. Between 5.30-7pm and 10-11pm, you can enjoy two courses for £18.50, and three courses £24.50, including a glass of wine. The house cured Gravadlax is very tasty and fresh, especially with the mustard and dill dressing, however the mains are lacking in the wow factor. If you choose to opt for dessert as well, know that you will be getting a lot for your money if you choose the Blackcurrant & Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice cream, as it is a huge portion that I would normally expect to be found on a sharing plate!
Preceded/Followed by One Man, Two Guvnors, Theatre Royal Haymarket
Probably my favourite play on the West End – this slapstick comedy presented by the National Theatre will have you rolling in the aisles (what a cliche sentence!) A play of mis-communication, stupidity, cheeky deceit and classic british jokes – you will struggle not to enjoy this. The acting is fantastic (I’ve seen this twice and both times Francis Henshall’s character was played brilliantly – it’s currently running with Rufus Hound – I think he’d do justice to this part!) the jokes are brilliantly timed and the audience participation is probably the thing that makes this play a winner! Another enjoyable element is the band that play before and during the show, known as ‘The Craze’. My only wish is that I had seen this play while James Corden had been in it – I think this play was written for him!
L’attellier Joel Roubichon, Cambridge Circus
I treated my father to this restaurant a few years ago, prior to a trip to the National on the South Bank, and while I struggled to understand why this place had been awarded two Michelin-stars, I could certainly see why it deserved one of them. The interior decor is lovely – a japanese inspired counter concept, whereby each guest has a chefs table experience, especially if they find themselves seated at the counter itself. The Pre- Theatre menu is served between 5.30-6pm and the Post- can be enjoyed between 10-11.30pm for a maximum of 4 guests, and is priced from £29 for two courses, up to £40 for four courses. Despite the Japanese decore, the menu is not purely Asian influenced, as guests can enjoy a stunning dish of Maine Lobster with a broad bean salad to start and a traditional Steak Tartare. The food is cooked to a wonderful standard, and the price is good for the high profile of the restaurant, but you’ll struggle to get yourself a booking anytime in the next month, as the stars make it a popular dining location.
Preceded/Followed by Jersey Boys, Prince Edward Theatre
Love the music of Frankie Valley & The Four Seasons? No? Well that doesn’t really matter, because this show is great anyway. You won’t be able to help tapping your feet to the fantastic Motown music, especially when the voices of the cast are so strong! The story follows the Four Seasons rise to fame and success, and explores the group dynamic whilst performing their classic hits (you’ll recognise more songs than you think) It’s a great show to take your parents to and will have you singing Oh What a Night for the next week!