London’s top 20 pre and post-theatre bargains

search-location-covent-gardenDinner and a show – it’s a classic combination – but not a particularly cheap one most of the time. Luckily we’ve rounded up the best places to find pre and post-theatre menus. Whether you fancy fine dining at temples of gastronomy like Koffman’s and Gymkhana for a fraction of the price, or you’re looking for some cheap ‘n’ cheerful brasserie fare in Covent Garden we’ve got it covered.  So if you’re off to see a play, a musical, a comedy night, or you just want to enjoy an early or late dinner, let Harden’s be your guide to the West End’s best evening set menus…


temp-gallery-imgL’Atelier de Joel Robuchon WC2

Mon-Fri, 5.30-6 pm: 3 courses £38/£59 with matching wines.

4 courses £43/£68 with matching wines.

“Delightful and meticulous” delicacies – eaten on high stools, many beside the open kitchen – help justify the vertiginous prices (the “steal of a set lunch” aside) at this “glamorous” Covent Garden outpost of the Parisian über-chef; as the formula dates, though, reporters find the place increasingly “overrated”.


tamarindTamarind W1

Pre theatre available 5.30-7 pm. Post theatre available from 10-10.45 pm.

3 courses £35 pp with coffee and petit fours.

“High-end Indian food cooked to perfection” and “incredibly helpful” staff help win rave reports for this “extremely civilised” and “classy” Mayfair stalwart; if there is a reservation, it’s the basement setting.


Chefs_Table benaresBenares W1

Mon-Sat, 5.30-6.30 pm: 2 courses £29. 3 courses £35

Duo of pairing wines £16, additional dessert pairing wine £6

“Atul Kochhar is a master of spicing” and “continues to delight with the innovative interpretation of Indian cuisine”, at his “slick and showy” Mayfair operation; its ratings slipped a notch this year though – perhaps there’s just more competition than once there was?


Koffman’s, The Berkeley W1

Mon-Sun, 6-6.30 pm: 3 courses £28.

“Masterful chef” Pierre Koffmann – the man who made La Tante Claire London’s best restaurant of the ’90s – is truly back with a vengeance at this Knightsbridge venue, though nowadays his “faultless” Gallic gastronomy seems more “gutsy” than of old; the deep-basement setting, though, will never truly sparkle.


wild honeyWild Honey W1

Mon-Fri, 6-6.45 pm: 3 courses £29.50.

“Much improved” since the recent refurbishment, this “relaxed but classy” Mayfair spot is a “good but pricey” fixture, where the food is “reliably interesting”, and whose “clubby, wood-panelled intimacy” suits business in particular.


l'autre piedL’Autre Pied W1

Mon-Fri, 6-7 pm: 2 courses £24. 3 courses £29

“Colours, tastes and textures are beautifully combined” to create “exciting and delicious” dishes, at Pied à Terre’s Marylebone offshoot; shame about the interior, though – critics say it has “all the ambience of a railway café”.


Le Caprice SW1

Mon-Sun, pre-theatre menu 5-6.30 pm. Post-theatre menu: 10.15 pm-midnight.

2 courses £19.75. 3 courses £24.25.

“Like Ol’ Man River, just keeps rolling along!” – this “understated” ’80s brasserie, behind The Ritz, “always make you feel like a million dollars”; its “robust” comfort food “won’t let you down”, but it’s not as dazzling as it once was – the “people-watching” is the more reliable sparkler.


gymkhanaGymkhana W1

Mon-Thu, 5.30-6.30 pm, Fri & Sat 5.30-6 pm.

4 courses £35 (£65 with wine pairing).

Straight into the super-league of London’s nouvelle Indians, this “unstuffy” yearling, near The Ritz, offers a “sensationally subtle” cuisine, including some “wonderfully original game and other dishes” – it’s “worth the hassle to get a table”.


The Jugged Hare EC1

Mon-Sun, pre-theatre 5.30-6.15 pm. Post-theatre 9.30-10.45 pm, Monday to Sunday.

2 courses £22. 3 courses £27.

“Great hearty British food” – majoring in “meat, meat and more meat, plus a little fish” – makes this “fantastic and buzzy” gastroboozer a very popular City standby, even if at times it’s “so noisy it’s impossible to chat”.


balticBaltic SE1

Mon-Sat, 5.30-7 pm: 2 courses £18.50. 3 courses £22.50.

“So good my eastern European wife got homesick!”; this “beautiful and airy” (but sometimes “very noisy”) former warehouse, in Borough, offers some “stylishly executed” (mainly) Polish fare; beware the vodkas though – “they’ve crushed many an after-work drinker”.


latium-london_0Latium W1

Mon-Sat, 5.30-6.45 pm: 2 courses £16.50. 3 courses £22.50.

Maurizio Morelli’s “subtle” venture remains “one of the best Italians in central London”; it stars “terrific” Roman cooking (“magnificent ravioli”), “courteous and respectful” service, and a wine list “that’s an attraction in itself”.


Massimo, Corinthia Hotel SW1

Available for pre-theatre 5.30-7 pm. Post-theatre 10-11 pm. 

3 courses with a glass of prosecco £30.

The “opulent” setting may be “amazing”, but this Italian dining room, near Trafalgar Square, has put in a mixed performance since its launch a few years ago; of late, however, it has begun to garner more praise, especially for the “excellent-value” set lunch, and “charming” service too.


Orso WC2

Mon-Sun, pre theatre 5-7pm. Post theatre 10 pm-midnight.

“Unpretentious, and reasonably-priced for Covent Garden” – this “reliable” basement Italian restaurant may give little hint nowadays of its fashionable past, but it’s a “friendly” sort of place, and still with a fan club among reporters, especially pre- or post-Royal Opera House.


portraitPortrait Restaurant WC2

Mon-Sat, 5.30-6.30 pm: 2 courses £19.50. 3 courses £23.50.

“Who can resist a date with Nelson?” – the “stunning view” from this top-floor dining room in the heart of the West End is its particular attraction; fans are “pleasantly surprised” by the cooking too, though the less starry-eyed can find it “uninspiring”.


sarastro3Sarastro WC2

Mon-Sat, 5-7 pm: 2 courses £16.50. 3 courses £19.95.

“Lots to look at while you dine” – and “fantastic entertainment” – justify a trip to this flamboyant operatic-themed Covent Garden haunt; without the opera, though, the whole experience would be eminently “forgettable”.


cellars4Boulevard WC2

Mon-Sat, pre theatre, midday-7 pm. Post-theatre 10-11 pm.

2 courses £14.95. 3 courses £17.95.

Despite its clichéd looks, this Covent Garden brasserie “does what it says on the tin” – “not bad food, reasonable prices, quick service and a buzzing atmosphere”; “try to sit on the first floor if you can”.


Le Garrick WC2

Pre-theatre available noon-6.30 pm and post-theatre 10-10.30 pm.

2 courses £13.50, 3 courses £16.45.

A veteran Covent Garden wine bar, offering “authentic” French staples at “quite sensible prices”, which fans proclaim a “fabulous oasis”… but “it’s the atmosphere downstairs, especially when there is live music, that sets the place apart”.


mon plaisirMon Plaisir WC2

Mon-Sat, pre-theatre 5.45-7 pm. Post-theatre 10-11.15 pm.     

2 courses £15.95, 3 courses £17.95, with a complimentary tea or coffee.

“Nothing really changed since our first visit in the ’60s!” – Covent Garden’s “stalwart” Gallic bistro (in fact, much expanded over the years) is a “romantic” old favourite, with top-value menus at lunch and pre-theatre; the food? – “never surprising, always reliable”.


moti mahalMoti Mahal WC2

Mon-Sat, 5.30-6.30 pm, 3 courses £23.

With its “unusual and exciting” cooking, and “charming” and “attentive” service too, this somewhat overlooked Covent Garden outpost of a Delhi-based group is well worth seeking out.


ay432108_1Yming W1

Pre-theatre available until 6 pm. 3 courses with tea or coffee £12.

A “haven”, an “oasis”, “the best Chinese in Soho”… Christine Yau’s “effortlessly pleasing” corner “stalwart” has been “consistent for years” – “maitre d’ William is the host with the most”, and “the food always hits the mark”.

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