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The best pre-theatre restaurants in London

Looking for a pre-theatre or post-theatre dinner? London is full of great deals for those in town for a show

© Jodi Hinds

It can be difficult to avoid a drama when trying to fit in a pre-theatre meal in London. But worry not – here's our pick of the best pre-theatre dinner deals in town (plus some post-theatre deals for those who like to eat later). Whether you’re seeing a Broadway transfer at the Dominion or satire at Soho Theatre (or you just fancy a cheap bite to eat) – we've got you covered. All of the restaurants included are within a 5-10 minute walk from the theatres mentioned, so never fear, you'll be fed and seated well in time for curtain-up.

Pre-theatre restaurants in central London

Blanchette

Eclectic French bistro with innovative (and rather odd) automatic music selection system, invented by one of the three brothers that own the restaurant.

The menu: French small plates. Tempting dishes include ox-cheek bourguignon and salmon confit. 

The deal: £15/£19.50 for two/three courses. 5pm-6pm,Mon-Fri; noon-6pm, Sat-Sun.   

Close to: Palace Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Prince Edward Theatre, Soho Theatre, London Palladium, Apollo Theatre, Criterion Theatre, Gielgud Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Queen's Theatre

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Soho

Bocca di Lupo

Contemporary Italian cooking in an open kitchen, so you can watch the chefs do their thing.

The menu: One or two dishes changed daily. Has previously included dishes such as pasta with raw duck egg and parmesan. 

The deal: £18 for one course. 12.30pm-3pm or 5.30pm-7pm, Mon-Sat.

Close to: Apollo Theatre, Criterion Theatre, Gielgud Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Queen's Theatre

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Soho

Boulestin

A tribute to nineteenth-century fine dining. Expect the expected: formal and classic but seriously retro.

The menu: Traditional posh French food. Examples include ballotine of poussin and roast halibut with carrot and ginger sabayon.

The deal: £26/£29.50 for two/three courses.

Close to: Harold Pinter Theatre, Her Majesty's Theatre, Theatre Royal Haymarket

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St James'

Brasserie Blanc

Light, bright and decidedly French, with a stunning view of Covent Garden market.

The menu: Mains include braised lamb with chateau carrots or steak frites.

The deal: £14/£16.50 for two/three courses. Noon-6pm or 9.30pm-11pm, Mon-Sun.

Noon-6pm or 9.30pm-11pm, Mon-Sun.

Close to: Royal Opera House, Adelphi Theatre, Aldwych Theatre, Duchess Theatre, Lyceum Theatre, Novello Theatre, Savoy Theatre

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Soho

Brasserie Zédel

Venue says: Dine with us and enjoy live music! Our swinging house bands play six nights a week from 9.30pm (9pm on Sundays).

Grand, art deco basement brasserie.

The menu: Affordable French staples: choose the coq au vin, or for a little more choice, the slightly more expensive option offers beef bourguignon or salmon pavé.

The deal: £9.75/£12.50 for two/three courses (prix fixe) or £19.75 for three courses with a glass of wine (formulae). 11.30am-midnight, Mon-Sat; 11.30am-11pm, Sun.

Close to: Apollo Theatre, Criterion Theatre, Gielgud Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Queen's Theatre

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Piccadilly Circus

Café Murano Covent Garden

Warm brasserie serving hearty Italian food drawn from the northern regions.

The menu: Deceptively simple food; mains could include goat’s cheese and butternut squash salad or braised lamb with polenta.

The deal: £19/£23 for two/three courses. Noon–3pm, 5.30pm–7pm, 10pm–11pm, Mon–Sat.

Close to: Jermyn Street Theatre, The Criterion, Her Majesty’s Theatre

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Covent Garden

Chop Shop

High-ceilinged, quirkily decorated restaurant specialising in steaks and chops. 

The menu: Simple menu of a 'jar' starter served with sourdough toast, meat for mains and two scoops of ice cream for pud. 

The deal: £19/£22 for two/three courses. Noon-7pm or 10pm-11pm, daily.

Close to: Duke of York Theatre, Garrick Theatre, Leicester Square Theatre, Noel Coward Theatre, Wyndham's Theatre, Apollo Theatre, Criterion Theatre, Gielgud Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Queen's Theatre

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St James'

Cinnamon Soho

Slightly more casual and relaxed sister venue of the Cinnamon Club. 

The menu: Traditional Indian fare with playful twists – try the rogan josh shepherd's pie.

The deal: £15/£18 for two/three courses. Noon-2.45pm, 6pm-7pm, 9.30-onwards, Mon-Sat.

Close to: London Palladium, Apollo Theatre, Criterion Theatre, Gielgud Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Queen's Theatre

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Soho

Four to Eight

Venue says: Join us for beautiful, simple, contemporary Italian food, funky cocktails and a superb wine list. Ci vediamo!

Exemplary service and robust, rustic Italian cooking inhabits that space between simple and fine dining.

The menu: Choose frommains:roast gnocchi, bavette steak, line-caught pollack.

The deal: £18.50/£23 for two/three courses. 5pm–7pm, 10pm–10.45pm, Mon–Sun.

Close to: Royal Opera House, Lyceum Theatre, Adelphi Theatre, Somerset House

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Covent Garden

Gay Hussar

Providing traditional Hungarian dishes to peckish politicians since 1953, while Martin Rowson caricatures watch from the dark wood walls.

The menu: Intense flavours lighten a menu heavy with options like smoky sausage soup and paprika-rich venison goulash.

The deal: £29.95 for three courses and a glass of wine. 5pm–7pm, Mon–Sat.

Close to: Soho Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Prince Edward Theatre, Palace Theatre

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Soho
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Pre-theatre restaurants in north London

Almeida

Looks like a bistro; serves uncompromisingly elegant food. 

The menu: Mostly French, with excursions to Britain; the charcuterie board includes rillettes, terrines and a scotch egg. 

The deal: £19/£22 for two/three courses. 5.30pm-7pm, 9.30pm-10.30pm, daily.

Close to: Almeida Theatre, King's Head, Hope Theatre

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Barnsbury

Chiswell Street Dining Rooms

Described as a gastropub but beware, the prices and dining room point to a more formal, restaurant-type experience. 

The menu: Pub staples made posh: fishcakes, black pudding and deer all feature on the seasonal menu.

The deal: £22/£27 for two/three courses. 5.30pm-6.30pm or 9.30pm-11pm, Mon-Sat.

Close to: Barbican Arts Centre

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Barbican

Jugged Hare

Sister restaurant to the Chiswell Street Dining Rooms. The taxidermy, red leather seating and oak floors give the impression of a cosy local. 

The menu: Nationally sourced, seasonal fare including Scottish salmon, Welsh sausage and Devonshire goat. 

The deal: £25/£29 for two/three courses. 5.30pm-6.30pm or 9.30pm-11pm, Mon-Sat.  

Close to: Barbican Arts Centre

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Barbican

Niche

Busy little café-style restaurant with an emphasis on casual dining.

The menu: 100 percent gluten-free. Items from the main restaurant menu include sausages and pies.

The deal: £12.50-£26.50 for one course, £5 starters. 5pm-7.30pm exclusive to performance nights at Sadler’s Wells – check website for details. 

Close to: Sadler’s Wells

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Finsbury
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Pre-theatre restaurants in south London

Baltic

Busy restaurant and bar serving all things Polish and vodka-based.

The menu: Posh Polish grub including confit duck salad and chicken a la Kiev. 

The deal: £18.50/£22.50 for two courses. 5.30pm-7pm, Mon-Sat. 

Close to: National Theatre, Old Vic Theatre, Young Vic Theatre

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Southwark

House at the National Theatre

Smart, contemporary dining that can be savoured, as you won't have to walk very far afterwards.

The menu: Changed seasonally; winter dishes include chestnut soup and lamb rump.

The deal: £22 for two courses when booking for a show. 5pm-11pm, with special packages relating to specific show timings.

Close to: National Theatre

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South Bank

Menier Chocolate Factory

Despite the name, there’s relatively little choc on the menu. Compact, friendly space within a converted warehouse that also houses a gallery and theatre.

The menu: Special set menus are created in response to each show at the theatre, for example: revolutionary blinis for Tom Stoppard’s ‘Travesties’ and blood orange sorbet for Sondheim’s ‘Into The Woods’.

The deal: £15/£18 for two/three courses. Seats must be taken by 2pm for matinees and 6.30pm for the evening show.

Close to: Menier Chocolate Factory

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Southwark

Penny

Newly refurbished basement bar at the Old Vic that replaces the Pit Bar
The menu: British produce is showcased in sharing plates including charcuterie and cheese.
The deal: About £25. 8am-1am, Mon-Wed; 8am-2am, Thu-Fri; 10am-2am, Sat.
Close to: Old Vic Theatre, Young Vic Theatre

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Southwark

Skylon

Bright, modern restaurant with sensational views of the Thames.

The menu: Fancy British food – choose between partridge, braised beef and confit cod for main. 

The deal: £32 for three courses. Noon-2.30pm, 5.30pm-6.30pm, 9.30pm-10.30pm, Mon-Sat.

Close to: Southbank, National Theatre

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South Bank

Swan At the Globe

A full-on dinner and show experience. Expect stylish, simplistic dining and great views of St Paul’s.  

The menu: Game and seafood, inspired by the cuisine of Shakespeare’s era. 

The deal: £24.50 for three courses. Noon-3pm, 5pm-6pm, prior to matinee and evening performances at The Globe..

Close to: Shakespeare’s Globe, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

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South Bank
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Pre-theatre restaurants in west London

The Goring Dining Room

Old English glamour with a modern touch.

The menu: Changes regularly but has an emphasis on seasonal British produce.

The deal: £33 for two courses. Before 6.30pm, Mon-Fri. 

Close to: Apollo Victoria, Victoria Palace Theatre

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St James's Park

Kensington Place

The sea air metaphorically breezes through this Notting Hill maritime-themed brasserie with fresh fish sourced from Billingsgate.

The menu: Yes there are veggie options, but if you can, go for the fresh fillets plucked from banks of ice by the in-house fishmonger.

The deal: £15/£20 for two/three courses. 6pm–7pm, Mon–Sat.

Close to: The Gate Theatre

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Kensington

Ognisko Restaurant

Looks like an impressive townhouse from the exterior and is dedicated to classic Polish cuisine.

The menu: Dishes change daily but might include marinated herring and roasted guinea fowl. 

The deal: £18.50/£22 for two/three courses. 5.30pm-7pm, Mon-Sat.

Close to: Royal Albert Hall

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Knightsbridge

Penny

Newly refurbished basement bar that replaces the Pit Bar.

The menu: British produce is showcased in sharing plates including charcuterie and cheese.

The deal: About £25. 8am-1am, Mon-Wed; 8am-2am, Thu-Fri; 10am-2am, Sat.

Close to: Old Vic Theatre, Young Vic Theatre

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Southwark

Royal Court Theatre

A proper thesp hangout, expect a lot of script-reading and audition chatter in this smart basement space.

The menu: A selection of small and large plates plus sharing boards. The pay-at-the-point-of-order system prevents any last minute panic before curtain-up.

The deal: £12–£16 for large plates. 5pm–7.30pm

Close to: Royal Court

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Belgravia
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Fancy a post-theatre tipple?

The 50 best cocktail bars in London

So many cocktails, so little time. So just stick to the best cocktail bars in London by using our ranked list. You'll find everything from dark and dirty speakeasy joints and secret bars to bold and brash party spots meant for a night out on the tiles. What they all have in common is mixed drinks that will blow your mind – and hopefully not your budget.

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By: Laura Richards

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