In the summer of 2017, Joe Allen moved lock, stock and wood panelling; the restaurant and all its fixtures and fittings took up a new home (just 25 metres down the road) in Burleigh Street, Covent Garden.
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In September 2017, this “always buzzing” 40-year-old “West End institution” (no longer co-owned with its NYC cousin) moved to a new site just 25m from the original, to accommodate Robert de Niro’s new Wellington hotel (opening in 2018). They’ve taken everything with them from the panelling to the posters and piano, and we’ve rated it assuming nothing changes, that is: “you go for the bustle and the showbiz feel” and by-and-large “forget the food” (“little better than an upmarket TGI fridays”). Top Menu Tip – “the favourite staple is the off-menu burger that’s always available”.
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place for it and when it’s good it’s really good”, but critics are “not sure how it’s still trading, except on a very out-of-date reputation: one friend always suggests meeting there… my heart sinks!”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”.
Joe Allen Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Very friendly and long established, sometimes overlooked, but always fun."
"Great place but food 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: 11.30 pm, Fri & Sat 12.30 am, Sun 10 pm