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Opera Tavern

Restaurants, Italian Covent Garden
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(33user reviews)

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Please note, Opera Tavern has recently re-launched with a new head chef. Time Out Food Editors, July 2019. 

Long a fixture on both the pre-theatre (being spitting distance from Drury Lane) and more learned foodie scenes, Opera Tavern is a buzzy, low-lit tapas joint that’s been going since 2011. It was part of the Salt Yard Group before being annexed in 2018, but then the rest (Ember Yard, Dehesa, Salt Yard) were sold too. The ‘group’ remained nominally intact and it was back to business as usual. As you were.

Like its Yardie brethren, it’s solid rather than spectacular. Some plates were splendid, especially a thumping gorgonzola-topped beef and lardo slider; four house croquetas, thrumming with manchego; and a fresh salad of little gem, anchovies and pickled shallots (a tangy respite from the heady Iberian flavours elsewhere).

But both a mound of blackened chorizo with griddled potato and shredded pepper, and a dainty dish of chilli-flecked seabass with wilted greens were over-salty; while the mushroom ‘ragout’ under some chargrilled chicken and cured pork jowl was resolutely sauce-free. That’s not to say Opera Tavern isn’t worth your time. As a perma-vibey spot to knock back a few sherries and a plate of croquetas – with highly affable service to boot – it’s pretty much faultless. But the rest? Está bien.

Opera Tavern says
Opera Tavern is a beautiful two-storey bar and restaurant in the heart of Covent Garden's theatre land.

We specialise in Italian and Spanish influenced tapas, charcuterie and small plates, and have a charcoal grill on the ground floor where we cook up all manner of tasty meaty treats.


Address: 23 Catherine Street
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £85.
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Users say (33)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:16
  • 4 star:8
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:2
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1 of 1 found helpful

I had a fantastic meal here with my friend. We both lived in Spain for a few years so Spanish food is very close to our hearts. Here you will find there is a nice twist to tapas and a brilliant selection of wines! The staff were really helpful. 

1 of 1 found helpful

II went to Opera Tavern to celebrate my first anniversary as a non-smoker, so I was very excited and ready to treat myself and my partner to a great meal. Also, a friend of mine had recommended Dehesa to me, which I believe is a restaurant operated by the same owners. The evening did not start well. As we got there the waitress literally harassed us until we ordered our wine. We did not take longer than 5 minutes to go through the wine menu, which is quite extensive, so it deserved to be studied. But she kept on coming around our table every minute to see if we were ready to order and unfortunately this behaviour carried on throughout the night, even though, we had booked our table in advance, we punctually turned up at 8:30pm and it was a Monday so the place was half empty from 9pm onwards. Then the "jamón de bellota" came to our table and I only needed to have a look at it to realise we had been swindled. How disappointing! As a Spaniard, I felt actually hurt. It was jamón serrano, yes, but not jamón de bellota as they claim (and charge for!). The real jamón de bellota has a very characteristic juicy look, intense smell and taste. The jamón we got last night at the Opera Tavern was dry and salty, rather mediocre. The rest of the food was ok. The Secreto Ibérico was very tasty so was the chorizo. But to be honest, by then I was a bit annoyed by the service and the jamón scam. I get asked a lot about Spanish restaurants in London as I am Spanish and tend to dine out quite a lot, but definitely NOT recommending this restaurant, such a let-down.


This restaurant is so much more than just a pre-theatre meal! We came here with the Timeout for Two card, everything we ordered was beautifully prepared and presented. The favorite of the evening is the octopus carpaccio. It's octopus compressed into this square, then thinly sliced, then topped with aioli and squid ink crisps. It's subtlety sweet, delicate and have soft and crunchy textures, amazing.


Great venue for a pre-theatre meal or a romantic date.

Great choice of Spanish/Italian wines and tapas, with a very modern twist.

I’m central London it’s easy to get lost with so many offers but not easy to find quality - Opera Tavern is definitely a great choice.

Ive read reviews of this plafe at TimeOut and decided to give it a chance with my wife and 4.5 years old son. Although it was not directly for our taste i can strongly recommend Octopus Carpacio and the Lamb. The waitress was really polite and helped us a lot with the order.


Delicious food at reasonable price.

I went with a large group with different dietary requirements and a few smaller groups and on dates --> each experience was amazing.

Service was quick, thorough, knowledgable and friendly.

They are also great when you book for a big group by making sure everything you need is fulfilled and even delivers beyond expectation.


A great restaurant with great service serving amazing tapas in fact some of the best tapas I have ever had.

Muy caliente! This is what I call real spanish dining. Totally tasty wood pigeon, iberico pork, octopus and a couple of bottles some really good wine. Good service. Worth every penny.

Restaurant mélangeant les styles culinaires espagnol et italien, tres bonne qualité des produits ! Un vrai bon moment ! Service de qualité !

The three stars for this restaurant is primarily because of the impeccable service and wonderful ambiance. The food is extremely varied, with a couple of interesting tapas dishes, but overall i think the flavours were lacking. I'm not sure if it was because I went as part of a group and so had a set menu (likely is), but I was left a little dissatisfied, with a dent in my wallet, and very empty stomach.

Interesting and varied tapas selection… and a great wine list. The service and atmosphere was fantastic, however, given the price (a little steep), the food wasn’t quite up to par… I’d definitely give it another chance, but won’t be rushing back!

Now I understand what all the fuss is about: the iberico pig and foie gras burger is just incredible! I could – and probably will – spend an evening eating just these, all by myself so I remain uninterrupted. One of the best dishes in London without a doubt. 


If you ever find me in Covent Garden, I’ll probably have theatre tickets and be grabbing a bite somewhere with a pre-theatre menu. I’m not sure if it’s the restricted menu or the quick to table service, but I always leave feeling a little less enthused after having a pre-theatre set menu.

With plans completely out of my hands one Saturday evening, I was surprised with dinner at Opera Tavern before seeing The Play That Goes Wrong. There wasn’t a pre-theatre menu in sight at Opera Tavern, though it is designed for pre-theatre goers, serving Italian and Spanish influenced tapas. We managed a total of 8 plates between two of us- 4 meat, 1 fish, 2 vegetable and 1 dessert to finish.

Most of the dishes were well cooked, presented and served in quick succession. The highlights for me were the wood pigeon, pork belly, octopus and smoked burrata. Each of them individually had a good combination of textures, colours and flavours, however, we noticed as the meal went on that pulses featured heavily and perhaps we could have done with less dishes containing chickpeas or any form or bean! The only real disappointment was the Patatas Fritas dish, which was served as a bowl of chips with sauces on the side and sadly the chips were quite average.

The restaurant itself is split over two floors with an impressive floor to ceiling rack of wine upstairs, dark green leather and wooden furniture and areas of exposed brickwork that gave it a slight rustic/ old library feel. The service was attentive and overall, even though this isn’t a blow-you-away amazing restaurant, it is a very good one and I enjoyed myself.


Fantastic tapas, really refined mix of flavours and tastes. Big congrats to the Chef! Great service as well, we really appreciated how the tapas came in a sensible and well-thought order. Definitely recommending it if you are around Covent Garden!

First timer in London and are overwhelmed with the quality of this establishment. Although the Tavern was full we were made to feel we were the only ones inside - such was the sincerity of their service. Food was intergalactic, and I will definitely be back, can't wait.

We ate at the Opera Tavern pre theatre, the tapas are the best I have ever tasted, the scotch egg, the scallop, the venison and frois gras burger were among the most scrumptious. Be prepared to pay, we were shocked by the bill in particular the wine, the tapas portions are very small, one scotch egg, one scallop. If you are treating a not so young, hungry, family I suggest you go to sample the delights and not to 'eat'. As an experience for the culinary delight of it, to tantalise the taste buds, go for it, enjoy and make sure you order a decent bottle of wine.

Would highly recommend this restaurant! A really great menu to choose from and the food is truly exceptional! A bit pricey but it is totally worth it! The staff were great also!

Visited with a work colleague one Friday evening. Arrived around 7:45 and luckily managed to grab 2 seats at the bar. That the was the last bit of luck for the evening. Having had some very pleasant nibbles and wine were informed that the gas jets has broken in the kitchen and it was closing. Ahh I thought not a problem, some cheese and wine would round of the evening well. NO, cant do that says the barman. I am puzzled. How does a lack of heating effect the slicicing of some cheese? It was very clear the staff had made the decision to abandon ship at the first sign of trouble and essentially enourage the clientel to do likewise. I would have expected far more from an establishment of this calibre. V dissappointed. Thankfully a nearby wine bar was more than willing to provide some very decent cheese and wine. With the recent deterioration in the Salt Yard, I am begining to wonder whether the owners have taken their eye of the ball of late. A shame as past experiences have alwasy been good. There are too many decent places in London to eat to adopt this behaviour.

Booked this place for a works Christmas party. The food was sensational and the atmosphere was busy but not loud. Only thing I would recommend was increasing the bar to serve sangria or margarita as we were pretty disappointed we could complete our spanish styled dinner

I went for dinner here on my birthday. The staff were very pushy about booking/ waiting for a table (we were 10 mins late and they gave our table away without even calling us!) but the food was delicious and once we were seated the service was lovely. I'd recommend their tomato, mozzarella and peach salad or their scallops. Wine was exceptional too. This is a sexy, sophis place to dine - if you can get past the sulky staff on the door...

We chose to go here based on the reviews on this site. We did not book and were a family party of four. We were seated at the bar by the tight lipped, terse woman at the door after she spent some time studying her reservations sheet and informed us that all tables were booked. She still did not get it right as we had our entire meal and left whilst tables lay empty behind us. The male bar staff were ok rather genial but it was rather chaotic. As for the food, the portions are tiny. Am not sure why the chef felt he could improve on patatas braves by turning them into chips. The tortilla is good. The octtupus was ok as was the crab salad. The lamb was succulent but only one cutlet per protion.More fresh items woud be good as there is a heavy emphasis on fried or grilled items. Don't have the bread with olive oil as it is chargrilled which means burnt stripes. As we were paying another terse unsmling female member of staff cleared our plates and laid fresh ones for the next clients before we had got up! There is a charity charge of £1 added to the bill.As a bar it works for drinks but not for tapas. It is too uptight.

Loved this place. Ok, so it's not the cheapest tapas in the world but the food was fanastic especially the pork pressa and the service just the right level of attentiveness. Lovely atmosphere. Next time I'd like to try the downstairs bar for a glass or two and some charcuterie. Would definitely recommend!

Very impressive. On a recent trip to London I tried a few of the current hot restaurants and this was by far my favourite. The mini iberico pork and foie gras burgers are simply outstanding, one of the best things I have ever eaten. Lamb cutlets also excellent the pork pressa, the jamon, the classic tortilla, the list goes on. Also great rioja. I need to visit again very soon. Truly excellent.

Celebrated a very special birthday lunch with family & friends. Had set menu for 8 covs in upstairs restaurant. Food,wine,welcome,service,pricing,staff product knowlewdge fautless. Cannot recommend Opera Tavern enough. Look forward to our next visit.

Simply excellent in every department, on a par with Barrafina and simply one of the best tapas restaurants in London

I had a brilliant time at Opera Tavern! I had the pleasure to meet a few days ago two members of staff and I was really looking for to having a meal there. As appetizers, I had a glass of Proseco, the Crispy Iberico Pigs Ears, the Padron Peppers, the Venitian Style Sardines. To follow, I had the Octopus and Chorizo with Cucumber and Pomegranate, the Mini Iberico Pork and Foie Gras Burger and the Grilled Iberico Pressa with Capers. I even had a second Mini Burger as it was so delicious! To go with that I had a glass of Selva Capuzza, from the Lake Garda in Italy. Perfect. I had a warm welcome and I have been very well looked after by the owner and all the members of staff. It is good to know that there is a wonderful place in the middle of Covent Garden area where you can have really tasty Spanish and Italian food in a pleasant atmosphere! I will be back soon with friends! Thank you guys! Francois F

Went to this restaurant last night... Would I go back.. No.. There were 4 of us and the tapas meals we ordered would not feed 2 or even 1. Don't buy the champagne, it's a very cheap bottle, for a very expensive price, it was bought for a surprise for my sister and bro in law wedding anniversary... Also check your bill, you could get charged for items you did not receive ... very disappointing

My friends and I met here for lunch (I chose the restaurant based on the reviews on TimeOut.). We were met by friendly staff and shown to our table. It's not particulary roomy upstairs and we were very cramped next to each table. In fact the tables were so close I had to breath in and squeeze through a small gap virtually sitting on their plates and I'm not a big lady!! Once sat at our table we idly chose from the Tapas menu being advised that 2-3 dishes per person was usually ample. We chose pigs ears, cheese, salad, fried potatoes, chicken and chorizo, duck and salmon. Tapas it was not. We literallly got 2 small fork fulls (and only 1 mouthful of duck) each!!! What we had ordered would have been fantastic for 1 person, maybe stretch to 2 people if neither of you were that hungry but sharing dishes, I think not. They were delicious but we went elsewhere for pudding, we needed filling up! I would go back again but only on the understanding that I didn't have to share a thing and we a purse full of money. It wasn't a cheap place.

absolute gem ,will give Barrafina a run for its money, Emmanuelle gave fantastic advice on wine, everything was top drawer well done

Tried Opera Tavern this evening came without booking. Greeted by the host who quickly got his attention to other people who were just passing through for their table or to go upstairs (making us feeling ignored and almost felt un-welcomed). Find their food to be very very good and innovative, dont mind the prices at all athough they are quite on the pricier side (for this side of town). Waiters kept on taking away our unfinished food, service was terrible. I honestly can say their staff is lacking quality of service standard. I know its a new restaurant and its buzzing most probably all the time since they opened, however its those little thing such as staff being attentive and welcoming their customers that will entice me of returning again. As said, food was very tasty and nice. We enjoyed it very much. But the lack of service skills, uh oh... they need to work harder on that. Just a thought. I rather go to Elpirata de tapas on Notting Hill, same kind of food if not better and staff are always friendly and welcoming.

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