June 2017: Joe Allen is to move this summer, lock, stock and wood panelling. The restaurant and all its fixtures and fittings will take up a new home (just 25 metres down the road) in Burleigh Street, Covent Garden.
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Still-“vibrant” survivor from the ’70s in a Theatreland basement – a “busy American diner” whose Covent Garden location makes it “a great spot for meeting pre-/post-show” and has long been something of a “minor celebrity hangout”. That “it hasn’t really changed under new ownership” (it’s no longer in the same stable as its NYC namesake) is a mixed blessing – fans say “there’s a time and place for it and when it’s good it’s really good”, but critics are “not sure how it’s still trading, except on a very out-of-date reputation: one friend always suggests meeting there… my heart sinks!” Top Menu Tip – “burgers can be ordered off menu for those in the know”.
A “Theatreland favourite since it opened in the mid-’70s” – this “fun and buzzy”, occasionally star-studded, old, Covent Garden basement hangs on to its fan club despite perennially “tired” cooking. Top Menu Tip – the “delicious under-the-counter burgers” which “strangely have never made the menu”.
Fortunately, the “buzzy” atmosphere has long been the “whole point” of this late-night Theatreland basement (est NYC ’65, London ’77), where the best bet foodwise is the “authentic” (and famously off-menu) burger; despite new owners in recent times though, its performance generally remains “tired”.
It’s still as “thespy” as ever, and the late-night atmosphere is as “fabulous” as ever, but this Theatreland basement changed hands this year (after 35 years); the food? – the straightforward American dishes (including an off-menu burger) “have never been the point”, but too often of late they have been plain “awful”.
Joe Allen Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Very friendly and long established, sometimes overlooked, but always fun."
"Great place but fod only adequate and no medium rare burgers anymore"
2 Burleigh St, London, WC2E 7PX
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all day noon - midnight, Fri & Sat 1 am, Sun 10.30 pm
Last orders: Mon-Thu 11.30 pm, Fri & Sat 12.30 am, Sun 10 pm