The Londoness


Born in Paris.

Made in London.

Teller of London Tales.

Capital Bites: Restaurants near the opera

Off to the Royal Opera House or the English National Opera? Whether you’re a Baroque buff or a ‘Norma’ novice, seated in the gods or near the pit, with the children or with your grandmama, it’s always best to take a pew after a proper supper. A night at the London opera or ballet is always a glittering affair, and you’ll need sustenance to get you through the drama of the evening. So, without further ado, here are some of my favourite restaurants in Covent Garden, near London’s opera houses.

Note: distances are by foot and are approximate.

Insider Knowledge

Let’s start with dining inside the opera houses. These restaurants offer pre-performance and interval courses and are perfect if you want some drawn-out taste bud pampering throughout the evening.

Royal Opera House

You can dine in one of four restaurants, food is pre-ordered online, and the menus are paired to each production.

Restaurants near London’s opera, Royal Opera House, Crush Room, restaurants in Covent Garden

I always feel like the belle of the ball when I walk into the Crush Room. It literally sparkles. The 17th century chandeliers are said to be made from the original chandelier that once hung in the centre of the auditorium. The Crush Room serves British food: you’ll often see poached salmon, fillet of beef and British cheeses on the à la carte menu.  There are several gluten-free and vegan options. Note that food is served cold.

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Other restaurants include the Restaurant Level 5 (£45 for two courses, £55 for three), and for the best view of the house, the Paul Hamlyn Balconies (expect to pay about £75 for a 3-course menu). The Paul Hamlyn Champagne Bar offers an à la carte menu similar to the Crush Room. The Bars serve snacks and a selection of sandwiches and cakes, whilst the newly-opened cafe on the ground floor serves food throughout the day and is open to non-patrons.

To book the Royal Opera House restaurants, click here.

English National Opera

American Bar, ENO, English National Opera, restaurants near London's opera, restaurants in Covent Garden

The American Bar is run by Benugo and offers a tempting and reasonably-priced seasonal à la carte menu. You can come in two hours before for a leisurely dinner and tuck into your dessert during the interval. The restaurant is located on the lower ground floor of the opera house.

To book the American Bar, click here.

Dress to Impress

The Ivy

Ivy, restaurants near London’s opera, restaurants in Covent Garden

The Ivy doesn’t need much of an introduction: it’s one of London’s most famous grande dame restaurants, established in 1917 and having served all manner of actors, politicians and literary types. Eating here feels like you’ve been ensconced in a very special dining room, one where your taste buds and your eyes are guaranteed to be tantalised. I wish the Ivy had clung onto its classic menu post-refurbishment, but I suppose the restaurant, like London around her, had to move with the times. Thankfully, you can still sample some of the old classics: shepherd’s pie, haddock and chips, welsh rarebit, and the iconic baked Alaska are still on the menu.

ENO: 5 minutes  ROH: 7 minutes

Note: The Ivy is one of the few restaurants in London which offers valet parking.

To book The Ivy, click here

The Savoy

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The Savoy was recently refurbished, but it still feels like a London time capsule. I will never forget the day in 1989 when I walked into the hotel as Omar Sharif walked out. My middle name being Larisa, of Doctor Zhivago fame, it was a memory I will always treasure of the exquisitely beautiful actor and of the hotel. But I digress!

If you really want to hit the golden dining ticket, head over to the Savoy Grill by Gordon Ramsay. This restaurant was favoured by Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde and Frank Sinatra. Even Her Majesty the Queen has dined here. The menu includes revived classics from Chef Escoffier’s days, when he ruled the London restaurant scene back in the 1880s and before he left in disgrace to open another rather famous hotel with Cesar Ritz.  Vegans and gluten-free patrons are fully catered for.

ENO: 7 minutes  ROH: 6 minutes

To book The Savoy Grill, call +44 (0)20 7592 1600

Rules

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Rules is London’s oldest restaurant and serves traditional British fare. Some of its star attractions are its oysters, the potted shrimps, steak and kidney suet pudding, saddle of rabbit and golden syrup sponge pudding. Dine in the company of Rules’ legendary ghosts: Henry Irving, Laurence Olivier, Stan Laurel, Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Charles Dickens, John le Carre and Evelyn Waugh. Upstairs in the bar, you can sit in the corner where the Prince of Wales, soon to be Edward VII, flirted with his mistress, Lillie Langtry.

ENO: 4 minutes  ROH: 5 minutes

To book Rules, click here

To read more about Rules restaurant, see my post: Midnight in London

No ordinary Trifle

Ivy Market Grill

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Not to be mistaken with The Ivy, the market grills and brasseries offer fantastic, reasonably-priced all day dining in well-designed surroundings and with good service. And it’s much easier to get a table! The Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden overlooks the busy piazza and is a stone’s throw from the Royal Opera House. They offer a pre and post-theatre menu of 2 courses for £16.50 and 3 courses for £21. I favour the tempura prawns and the salmon and smoked haddock fishcake with poached egg. The final act has to be the chocolate bombe. The Afternoon Tea is also very well-priced, and delicious!

ENO: 5 minutes  ROH: 4 minutes

To book the Ivy Market Grill, click here

Opera Tavern

This is one of my favourite pre-opera restaurants and sister to Salt Yard restaurant in Soho. It’s a Spanish meets Italian tapas menu featuring all sorts of divine small plates. I’m not a meat eater but my friends rave about the Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, and I could wax lyrical all day about the haddock croquetas and the courgette flower with goat’s cheese and honey. I recommend the Affogato to finish, which literally means a drowned coffee dessert, in this case, inundated with chocolate ice cream, prunes and coffee mascarpone. That should keep you from snoozing!

ENO: 8 minutes  ROH: 2 minutes

To book click here

Balthazar

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Here I am wedged in-between my two favourite men at Balthazar: my husband Mark (left) and Jarod (right). We were about to head off to see ‘Eugene Onegin’ at the Royal Opera House.

This New York outpost is one of my favourite restaurants around Christmas. It’s cosy and glamorous at the same time. It has a children’s menu making it great for families, and is right next door to the Royal Opera House which means you don’t need to panic to get to your performance. The prix fixe menu is £19.95 for 2 courses and £22.95 for 3 courses.  The Duck shepherd’s pie is famous, but I’m a fan of the moules frites.

ENO: 7 minutes  ROH: 1 minute

To book, click here

Café Murano

Angela Hartnett’s delizioso northern Italian restaurant has two London outposts, but it the one in Covent Garden to which you want to head over.  They have a special, and quite extensive, theatre menu.

ENO: 7 minutes  ROH: 2 minutes

To book, click here

J Sheekey

fish restaurant near London’s opera, restaurants in Covent Garden, J Sheekey

I must mention my absolute favourite London restaurant here: Sheekey’s. It’s the best fish restaurant in London, and a great pit-stop before or after the opera. Don’t take my word for it – go try!

ENO: 3 minutes  ROH: 8 minutes

To book, click here

Casual chain dining and kid-friendly restaurants

These chain restaurants and all tried and tested and good for families as well.

Cinnamon Bazaar

Indian restaurant near London’s opera, restaurants in Covent Garden, Cinnamon Bazaar

It’s buzzy, fun and spicy, and it’s a stone’s throw from both opera houses. With dishes ranging from curried popcorn to soft shell crab chaat, poppy seed gun powder chillies, tandori cauliflower and pistachio kulfi, the Cinnamon Bazaar never disappoints. If you’re catching an afternoon performance, the restaurant does a Traders High Tea which includes Chaats (street food) and Indian sweets, washed down with masala chai.

ENO: 3 minutes  ROH: 5 minutes

Reservations only before 6 pm or for groups of 7+. To book, click here.

Wahaca Covent Garden

Wahaca is a chain of Mexican restaurants owned by Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers, and I love its authentic, fresh and seasonal food. Plus, it has a fantastic range of pure, agave tequila.

ENO: 2 minutes  ROH: 6 minutes

To book, click here.

Sticks ‘n Sushi

restaurants near London’s opera, restaurants in Covent Garden, Sticks n Sushi

Denmark meets Japan in this chain of restaurants which boats a slightly overwhelming selection of skewers, sticks and rolls. Its not the cheapest restaurant, but if you need a quick and healthy fix, Sticks ‘n Sushi won’t disappoint.

To book, click here.

ENO: 3 minutes  ROH:  4 minutes

Busaba Eathai Covent Garden

Conceived by restaurateur Alan Yau (of Hakkasan fame) in 1999, this chain of Thai restaurants is still going strong. Expect to see stir-fries, curries, salads and Asian-inspired juices. There’s a special menu for children as well.

To book, click here.

ENO: 7 minutes  ROH:  2 minutes

Dishoom Covent Garden

Indian restaurant near London’s opera, restaurants in Covent Garden, Dishoom

If you go early enough, you’ll be able to bag a table at this insanely popular Indian chain of Bombay-inspired cafés. My favourite dishes are the okra fries and the Mahi tikka, but the bhel (puffed rice with pomegranate, tomato, onion, lime tamarind and mint) is moreish as well.

Reservations only after 5.45pm and for groups of 6+ only. To book, click here.

ENO: 4 minutes  ROH: 6 minutes

Pho – perfect for vegans and gluten-free

restaurants near London’s opera, restaurants in Covent Garden, Pho

So you’re off to the opera and you need a gluten-free and vegan restaurant? Look no further than Pho. It’s cheap, cheerful and delicious Vietnamese food. And if you need to stay awake, they their coffee. It rich and creamy, tastes of chocolate, and it’s guaranteed to keep your weary eyes open during that final act.

ENO: 8 minutes  ROH: 1 minute

Fire & Stone

Sometimes only a pizza will do, especially if you’re heading to the ballet with the kids. Enter Fire and Stone, perfect for the whippersnappers and not bad for adults too. There’s a whole baked camembert, polenta chips, buttermilk calamari and Cajun mushrooms on the starter menu. The Global Pizza menu includes the Mumbai curry pizza, the New York folded, the Marrakech spicy and the cheesy Zermatt.

ENO: 3 minutes  ROH: 6 minutes

Browns Covent Garden

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Browns has been a London staple since 1973. It serves good British food including crab on toast, fish pie, fish and chips and steak and Guinness pie. Browns has a gluten-free menu.

ENO: 2 minutes  ROH: 6 minutes

To book, click here.

Pubs

The Lamb and Flag

pub near London’s opera, pub in Covent Garden, Lamb and Flag

The Lamb and Flag was one of Charles Dickens’s favourite watering holes. There’s a full range of kiddy favourites (mac and cheese, pizza, sausages and mash, beef or chicken burger and fish and chips). Adults could try the smoked mackerel paté, rib-eye steak and the vintage ale sticky toffee pudding.

ENO: 4 minutes ROH: 4 minutes

To book, click here

Great Queen Street

A family favourite, the Great Queen Street pub is gastronomic yumminess. Try the potted shrimps, English asparagus with potato cake, egg, parmesan and truffle oil. Finish with the hot chocolate pudding and hazelnut milk ice. Mmmmmm.

ENO: 10 minutes ROH: 4 minutes

To book, click here

 

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A London arts and culture blog featuring articles about art, theatre, opera, dance, music and design.

4 Comments

  • Judith Sikora

    May 16, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    My first stop would have to be Mr. Fogg’s. It looks so interesting and I bet the food is wonderful. I love reading about all these wonderful restaurants.

    Reply
  • Louise Riis

    May 15, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Ohhh wow! Thank you for taking me to food heaven! (I love when you write about restaurants! More inspiration for a foodie like me!)
    Balthazar and Opera Tavern are some of my favourites in that area. I still need to try out Rules. I remember you wrote about this place in a previous post! (looks so decadent and stylish. Feel like dressing up in Charleston dress)

    Thanks for sharing, Scarlett
    X

    Reply

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