The window of time to fuel up on food just before a theatre show is a short and awkward one – and that can make dining choices difficult. What restaurant will feed you fast enough so you get to the theatre on time? And more importantly, can you find a good restaurant that isn’t a chain?
The West End is the theatre capital of the world, and London’s restaurants have taken note, with a host of dedicated menus that will not only get you to the stalls on time, but that are bank-balance friendly too. From shellfish platters to Spanish set menus, these are our favourite places to eat before a show…
The Best Pre-Theatre Restaurants In London
We’re huge fans of Fatt Pundit, and their pre-theatre menu is a winner, not just for the delicious food and proximity to theatreland, but for the sheer amount you get for your money, too.
For just £33 per person, you’ll get a choice of chicken or goat momo to share, followed by a starter, main, and side each, finished off with a dessert to share. Highlights include crackling spinach with sweet yoghurt, date and plum sauce and pomegranate, and sticky sesame vegetable fritters to start. For mains, we recommend the Malabar Monkfish Curry grilled in saffron butter with fresh coconut or the Szechuan honey duck pancakes. On the side, opt for egg Szechuan fried rice or the moreish tamarind glazed potatoes with black salt.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Fatt Pundit without their famous Snowflake Gelato brownie. The sizzling smell of chocolate from other diner’s tables wafts around the room until you can’t help but make room for dessert – simply irresistible.
WHERE: 6 MAIDEN LN, LONDON WC2E 7NA
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Overlooking the Covent Garden Piazza, Pivot’s close proximity to London’s theatre district makes it a great choice for a bite to eat before a show, with a pre-theatre set menu starting from £35 per person.
Tuck into a delicious three–course meal, including broad bean and pea salad, marinated vegan feta and pomegranate dressing; ratatouille wilted kale and roasted cashews; and vanilla poached pear with softly whipped cream. For an extra £13, you’ll get a carafe of red, white or rose wine included.
Where: 3 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8LU
This upscale Italian restaurant in Covent Garden delivers glamour and elegance in spades, and for £43 for three courses, you’re guaranteed both flavour and authenticity. Available Tuesday-Saturday from 12pm-2pm and 5pm-6:30pm, which means you have the option of dining before a matinee or evening performance.
Dishes include beef tartare with capers, shallots, anchovies, mustard and egg bottarga; nettle and canet risotto; roasted cod with puttanesca sauce; and almond and chocolate cake with mascarpone chantilly and cocoa sauce.
Where: 45 Great Queen St, London WC2B 5AA
Nestled in the heart of bustling Oxford Street, Aqua Nueva is a great starting point to explore the West End theatre scene. With dishes that honour Spain’s culinary heritage and innovations, the pre-theatre menu offers four tapas dishes and one dessert for £32pp. Choose from the likes of black seafood croquettes, Iberian ham, cod tempura and slow-cooked lamb with sweet potato puree, kale, and lamb jus. And for dessert, seasonal fruit salad or pistachio churros with dark chocolate sauce.
The pre-theatre menu is available Monday-Saturday, between 5pm-6:30pm.
Where: 5th Floor 240 Regent Street, London W1B 3BR
A Piccadilly institution, Bentley’s has been serving up champagne and oysters for over 100 years. For pre-show dining, the beloved restaurant serves up their decadent Royal Shellfish Platter with two glasses of champagne, all for £100. All your seafood favourites feature, including a half lobster, dressed crab, prawns, oysters, cherry clams, mussels and whelks. If you’re looking to make your evening in the West End that bit more special, this is the perfect way to do it.
The Shellfish platter is available Sunday-Thursday, between 5pm-6:30pm.
Where: 11-15 Swallow St, London W1B 4DG
Gunpowder’s Soho site is in prime position for visiting the theatre, so it’s just as well they have an epic pre-theatre menu to boot. Starters include Bengali Beetroot Croquettes and Gunpowder Aloo Chaat, before tucking into mains like Tandoori Saag Paneer and Beef Pepper Fry.
Grab these two courses for £22, or finish with an Old Monk Bread and Butter Pudding for an extra £3.
Where: 20 Greek St, London W1D 4DU
190 Queen’s Gate
For pre-theatre dining in the heart of Kensington, opt for 190 Queen’s Gate, the newly reopened restaurant tucked inside the quintessentially British hotel, The Gore.
Available Tuesday to Saturday from 5:30pm to 8pm, highlights include spring vegetable vol-au-vent; seabream with glazed courgettes and potato dumplings; and sticky toffee pudding. £30 will get you two courses, and three courses is £35.
Where: 190 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5EX
Sucre has some wonderful theatres on its doorstep, including the London Palladium and the Soho Theatre, and their pre-theatre menu is just as fantastic, coming in at just £35 a head for three courses.
Cooked over the open fire of a parrilla, standout dishes include chorizo criollo and chimichurri; sea bream with crushed potato, chicken Butter and spinach; and coconut creme caramel with pineapple and lime.
Where: 47b Great Marlborough St, London W1F 7JP
With many of London’s theatres right on their doorstep (meaning you can be more leisurely with your time) St. Martin’s Lane London is a natural choice for pre-theatre dining.
You can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine whilst enjoying their pre-theatre menu, which includes delightful dishes like chicken terrines with mango gel and baby leaves; Atlantic cod with pea puree, broccoli, garlic, and lemon butter; and a strawberry pavlova with mango sorbet and creme patisserie to finish.
Where: 45 St Martin’s Ln, London WC2N 4HX
Aqua Kyoto’s not only a great shout to escape the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, it’s also a brilliant choice for pre-theatre dining given its close proximity to many of the West End’s theatres. Dishes include salmon and avocado maki with yuzu koshu mayonnaise and ikura; and half jalapeño marinated baby chicken with radish tsuma salad. And for dessert, tuck into an Amatika chocolate delice with spiced lychees, genmai crumble and lychee sorbet – all for £35pp.
The pre-theatre menu is available Monday-Sunday from 5pm-6.30pm.
Where: Regent Street Entrance 30, 240 Argyll St, London W1B 3BR
The London EDITION
The award-winning Berners Tavern at The London EDITION has recently introduced the new ‘Early Berners’ set menu priced at £29.50 for two courses or £35 for three, available Monday to Saturday from 5 to 6:30pm daily. Highlights from the full a la Carte include a prawn cocktail with lobster jelly, Cornish cob chicken paillard and mascarpone and coffee éclair with Marsala ice cream.
Younger children are well catered for with their own ‘Little People’ offering, so theatergoers can now soak up all the drama of London’s most exquisite dining room and still make it to the stalls on time.
WHERE: 10 Berners St, London W1T 3NP
Bocconcino has long been one of London’s best Italian restaurants offering traditional Italian dishes with a contemporary twist, including an excellent range of antipasti, and main courses from diverse regions of Italy.
With its seasonal set menu, available all day Sunday-Thursday, you can enjoy its first-class service from £30 for two courses and £35 for three. Highlights include Tagliatelle con funghi selvatici and the unmissable tiramisu.
WHERE: 19 Berkeley St, London W1J 8ED
A long-standing staple of Soho, Manzi’s reopened last year and is a throwback in the best way – stunning interiors, authentic nostalgia and an excellent seafood-first menu make this a must-visit before your next theatre show.
The Prix-Fixe Menu – available Monday to Saturday until 6:30pm and on Sundays until 4:30pm – is perfect for pre-theatre dining with 2 courses at just £19.50 and 3 courses £24.50. Dishes include clam chowder with smoked sweetcorn, Manzi’s fish pie with minted peas, and pineapple upside-down cake with rum and raisin ice cream.
WHERE: 1-8 Bateman’s Buildings, London W1D 3EN
Kerridge’s Bar and Grill
The eponymously named Kerridge’s Bar & Grill is headed up by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge and serves a range of traditional British dishes with the freshest ingredients.
With two courses from £39.50 and three courses from £47.50, this is the best way to enjoy favourites like cider and onion soup, pig’s cheek pie, and rice pudding créme caramel. They also have a late-night snack menu, which makes it perfect for post-theatre as well as pre.
WHERE: 10 Northumberland Ave, London WC2N 5AE
Located in the heart of Piccadilly, Brasserie Zedel is a grand and bustling Parisian brasserie – and one of the best deals in town/
Their Prix-Fixe menu is an ideal option for those after a quick pre- or post-theatre dinner. Priced at just £16.95 for two courses and £19.75 for three courses. Dishes include creamed leak and potato soup, chopped steak Americain, and a chocolate and caramel tart.
WHERE: 20 Sherwood St, London W1F 7ED
Skylon is the perfect spot to enjoy river views from its floor-to-ceiling windows on Southbank, either before or after your trip to the theatre. For two courses £30.00 or three courses £35.00, the menu is available at lunch Monday to Friday, pre-theatre until 18.30 Wednesday to Saturday and post-theatre 21.00 to 22.00, meaning it’s the perfect accompaniment from matinee to the late show.
Choose from ham hock terrine, seared cod loin and sticky toffee pudding right beside the hub of theatre, music and galleries.
WHERE: Belvedere Rd, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 8XX
Hovarda, the Aegean-inspired restaurant nestled on Rupert Street combines modern Greek cuisine with rich flavours and influences from South America and Asia.
Their new menu was recently launched focusing on dishes from the area surrounding the Aegean Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean located between the idyllic Greek and Turkish coasts.
WHERE: 36-40 Rupert St, London W1D 6
This Sicilian-inspired restaurant places a particular emphasis on the Moorish influences of the island’s cuisine, embodying old-school Italian hospitality and charm
For their early dining menu choose from Sicilian caponata, Cornish crab and chilli linguine and homemade gelato, with prices at £27 for two courses and £30 for three.
WHERE: 8 Charlotte St., London W1T 2LS