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Joe Allen

Restaurants, Brasseries Covent Garden
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

If you’ve been stuck under a rock for years, you might not have heard of Joe Allen. A Covent Garden institution, this ‘American brasserie’ feels like a sixth-form common room for Theatreland’s luvvies. Only, this one is new. Well, sort of new. It’s relocated to a new home 25 metres down the road, though you can’t tell – it already feels like it’s been there for ever. It's a warm, wood-panelled basement set over two levels, every inch of whose wall space has been hung with framed show posters. In the corner, a piano man belts out big tunes in a joyful, join-in-with-me kind of way. Post-show, people probably do.

As for the food, let’s be honest: you don’t really go to Joe Allen for the cooking. But your best bet is the burger. An ‘off-menu’ open secret, it’s a meaty beef patty (be warned: they won’t cook it any rarer than medium) in a grill-marked brioche bun, with the usual salad bits. Plus ketchup and French’s mustard on the side. No fireworks, then, but a perfectly satisfactory pre- or post-show bite.

You should know that the corridor to the loos is lined with monochrome pictures of stars from the stage and beyond. Make several trips. And the staff still offer that awesome service where you phone them, tell them what show you’ll be seeing and they’ll give you the best table time for dinner. Take a grown-up groupie in your life.


Address: 2 Burleigh St
Covent Garden
Transport: Tube: Temple or Covent Garden
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £95.
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