Jun 1, 2015

A Foodie’s Guide to Restaurants and Eating in Covent Garden

WORD OF WARNING: Don’t read this on an empty stomach, unless you’re on a busy train or somewhere else noisy enough to drown out the hungry groans emanating from your tummy. This writer sat down to pen this guide first thing in the morning with not a morsel of breakfast in sight; big mistake.  An hour or two into the process and my stomach sounded like a drill sergeant barking orders.

This is the effect that restaurants in Covent Garden have on us foodies. Having to pick our favourite restaurants from such a cluttered region of excellent eateries is difficult enough without being forced to reminisce and salivate over past meals we’ve enjoyed. Whether you’re going for a pre-theatre meal, looking to sample some Michelin-starred marvelousness, or just grabbing a quick bite, there’s plenty to choose from.

But choose we did; we’ve managed to select some of the best restaurants in Covent Garden, whatever the occasion, but while these are the ones deemed the best of the best today, we’re really only scratching the surface of food in the West End of London.

Best restaurants for pre-theatre meals

Many people head out for dinner in Covent Garden before and after the opera, so it seems only right we start with the Opera Tavern. A delightful mix of Spanish and Italian tapas cuisine, it’s just a few steps away from the Opera House and offers fantastic pre-theatre menus for all palates. Particular highlights include the char grilled beef bavette with crispy tongue, wild garlic puree and confit mushrooms, as well as the ibérico presa with chicken jus, capers, shallots & lemon. The food here is mouth-watering, it’s great for groups, and its closeness to the theatres is comforting.

If you’re looking for a meal by an award-winning chef to accompany the award-winning play you’re about to see, look no further than the Corinthia Hotel and The Northhall restaurant. Executive Head Chef Garry Hollihead has won several Michelin stars for his work at Sutherlands Restaurant and L’Escargot, and now he brings his love of the Great British Kitchen to this breathtaking dining room. With a two-course menu for just £24 and three-course menu for just £28 between 5:30pm-7:00pm and 9:30pm-11:00pm, the value is superb. Particular note goes to the roast middle white pork belly, served with crackling, caramelised cauliflower, fondant potato and shimeji mushrooms. Divine.

Another fine choice would be the Indigo Restaurant. Recently renovated and re-opened with a delicious and three-courses-for-£25 pre- and post-theatre menu, you can enjoy dishes celebrating the best of British produce, from succulent Cotswold chicken to exquisite Brixham monkfish.

Best restaurants for quick bites

Sometimes you just haven’t got time to take in three courses, and a quick meal is the order of the day. For some delicious Mexican food you can head to Wahaca, which allows guests to either order a main from the ‘bigger food’ menu (the burritos are a delight) or get a bunch of smaller dishes to share amongst your group, including pork pibil tacos, salmon sashimi tostadas, and sublime sweet potato and feta taquitos.

For some of the best burgers you’re ever likely to try, you could head to Meatliquor. Don’t be surprised if there’s a queue when you arrive; they have a no reservation policy resulting in queues for tables, but they also offer a takeaway service which you can phone up and pre-order prior to your arrival. If you do get a table, the décor is fantastic – the perfect environment to tuck in to stacked red chili cheeseburger.

A slightly healthier option might be to try out Murakami – heralded by guests as one of the best places in town for sushi and Japanese food. A fine selection of tempura and tonaktsu, as well as fresh sashimis ranging from salmon to octopus and smocked eel, mean you can enjoy a satisfying meal without feeling too heavy on your feet.

Best restaurants for birthdays

If it’s fun you’re after, head to Circus. Part cocktail bar, part cabaret restaurant; whatever it is, the Pan Asian menu is fantastic, as is the décor and entertainment. Diners enjoy a thrilling show which often includes fire-eating ballerinas and daring gymnasts. The Circus dishes include aubergine and chilli crusted tofu toban yaki, a Scottish black angus fillet steak, and Chilean sea bass with chilli bean, black bean, shaoxing wine, garlic and ginger.