Thanks to the success of hits, such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the release of Hamilton in London, theaters have finished with the best year ever. According to the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) revenues topped £700 million and more than 15 million attended shows in 2017. Consequently, as the shows have gotten hotter, so has the food scene! Here are our top eats by cuisine in and around London’s West End.
British: Tredwells, is a farm-to-table-style casual restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing. The menu offers a varied selection of local meats and seafood, but the veggies are the star of the show here, with a variety of vegan options for mains starters and desserts. Recently, we enjoyed a standout roasted carrot with aquafaba (chickpea foam) that was equally matched by a spectacular peanuts mousse for dessert. For steaks, the top spot is Hawksmoor, where you choose cuts of British grass-fed beef, accompanied by classic sides—all followed by London’s best sticky toffee pudding for dessert. They have two locations in the West End: Seven Dials and Air Street, as well as a set menu for pre-theater.
French: We’re a fan of an import, Frenchie, by Gregory Marchand, whose Paris eateries are booked up months in advance. Good to know: His London outpost is more accessible and equally delicious. For more of a bistro feel, there’s also a Balthazar off Covent Garden, just as good as the New York original.
Iconic: The Ivy set the standard when it opened in 1917. After a spruce up a few years ago, the original Art Deco bar is sparklier than ever. Enjoy English classics like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, or duck confit; you can also have London’s best Baked Alaska for dessert. They have also opened an Ivy Cafe right on Covent Garden, although the setting of the original is beyond compare. The Ivy offers packages, which include set meals and theater tickets.
Indian: We love the bold flavors of Dishoom near Seven Dials, but there are no bookings unless you are a party of six or more, which can mean potential waits of up to an hour. The waits are worth it, however, with crispy samosas, spicy tikka and delicious black daal. If you prefer to book, try Tandoor Chop House for yummy breads, meats and veg all done in the tandoor oven.
Italian: For authentic Italian, head to Bocca di Lupo; they make their own breads, sausages, salami, pickles, pasta and gelato. The atmosphere is hip, the setting rustic, and the food is literally as good as you get in Italy. If you just want dessert, check out Gelupo across the street for Bocca’s amazing gelato and hot chocolate.
Quirky and Cute: Jar Kitchen, a 50-seat independent café, serves daily set menus for pre-theater. The impressive plates are created by rising culinary star Ashley Finch, who began his career working at two- and three-Michelin-star restaurants in The Berkeley and The Dorchester. I dare you to find tastier food at any price, never mind that at Jar Kitchen the two-course menu is a bargain at £16.
Sushi: A favorite newcomer to Covent Garden is Copenhagen import Sticks-n-Sushi. We love the inventive rolls and cooked dishes (the cauliflower appetizer is not to be missed); plus, they do great sushi platters for sharing. Booking is advised.
Spanish: Serving a modern take on traditional Basque dishes in the five-star One Aldwych Hotel, is Eneko, the first London outpost for chef Eneko Axta, whose three-Michelin star restaurant, Azurmendi, is one of the World’s Top 50 Restaurants. The London location certainly impresses with dishes that are equally beautiful and delicious. Options include set menus and a la carte; booking is advised. For tapas as good as you find in Madrid or Barcelona, head to Barrafina, which has three locations: Adelaide Street, Dean Street and Drury Lane. Be prompt for the 5:30 opening or expect to wait an hour to sit at the long bars watching the chefs prepare classic potato tortillas, fiery chorizo and various seafood drenched in garlic. There are no bookings, but it's totally worth the wait.