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Food glorious food: a guide to theatre restaurants and bars

First Published 24 August 2016, Last Updated 9 September 2016

By Niall Palmer

If you’re looking for a top notch pre or post theatre meal, or simply fancy a quiet corner in the capital to curl up with a coffee, look no further than the huge range of top quality restaurants and bars hidden away in some of London’s most iconic venues. Intrigued? Here are a few ideas to whet your appetite:


Royal Court Bar & Kitchen (Photo: E de Bonneval)

Royal Court Theatre – Bar & Kitchen

The Royal Court’s Bar & Kitchen sits beneath Sloane Square – if you look up you can see shadows of people walking overhead. A great daytime spot for coffee and cake with snug meeting spaces and plenty of power points to work with no ticket required. In the evening there is a vibrant pre and post show atmosphere and a frequently-changing menu of international flavours sourced from ethical suppliers.

Booking required: Dining only. 
Dress code: Smart casual
Disabled access: Yes, via lift
Vegetarian/vegan options: Wide range available.
Famous patrons: Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston
Open: Mon-Fri 11am – late; Sat 12:00 – late; Sun closed. Full menu served until 20:00.

The London Coliseum

London Coliseum – The American Bar

The Coliseum’s American Bar opens to two hours before each show begins and diners return to their table to enjoy dessert during the interval. The American Bar seats 50 diners and although patrons require a ticket for the performance, special arrangements can be made to accommodate those without.

Booking: Advised for dining
Dress code: No
Disabled access: Yes
Vegetarian/vegan options: Yes, but limited
Famous patrons: Former Prime Ministers and numerous Hollywood stars
Open: On performance days and by prior arrangement

The Understudy bar

National Theatre – The Understudy

The Understudy is a relaxed and friendly craft beer pub at the National Theatre, open even when the theatre isn’t. You don’t need a theatre ticket to eat there, just bear in mind that final food service is 19:45. Treats include homemade Scotch quail eggs and Flanders red pulled pork. Drinks are served until 30 minutes prior to closing.

Booking required: No
Dress code: Smart Casual
Disabled access: Yes
Vegetarian/vegan options: Yes
Famous patrons: A long and distinguished list of theatre royalty
Open: Mon-Wed 12:00–00:00; Thu-Sat 12:00 – 01:00; Sun 12:00 – 22:00.

Sadler's Wells

Sadler’s Wells – Fox Garden Court Café

A modern, stylish, refectory-style café  serving lunch and dinner, including a tummy-rumbling beef and olive ragout and a tasty selection of salads and panini. Perfect for rubbing shoulders with choreographers, world renowned dancers and star spotting – no theatre ticket required.

Booking required: No
Dress code: No
Disabled access: Yes
Vegetarian/vegan options: Yes
Famous patrons: World-class dancers aplenty
Open: Dependent on performance schedule

The Cut Bar at the Young Vic

Young Vic – The Cut Bar

The Cut Bar offers outstanding quality drinks and free range and organic foods cooked from scratch using local and sustainable produce. It’s an inviting space that caters for diners, drinkers and loungers even when the theatre is dark. Popular dishes include Thai raw salad and Norfolk crab linguini. A great selection of local craft beers by Fourpure Brewery is always on offer, and popular summer tipples include the mouthwatering gin cocktail, Watermelon Crush.

Booking Required: No, although reservations can be made http://www.thecutbar.com/
Dress code: No
Disabled access: Yes
Vegetarian/vegan options: Yes
Famous patrons: Jude Law, Michael Sheen, Eddie Redmayne, Orlando Bloom, Gillian Anderson.
Open: Mon-Fri 08:00—late; Sat 09:00—late; Sun closed.

The Penny cafe

Old Vic – Penny and Mark’s Bar

The Old Vic offers two very different options within the theatre; Penny is an artisan café providing a relaxed basement atmosphere for a leisurely brunch, coffee meeting or a quick bite pre-show. Mark’s Bar is a sumptuous cocktail bar for something a little special during a visit to the theatre. Both remain open during dark periods and run a series of events and tastings.

Booking required: No
Dress code: No
Disabled access: No – but both can provide refreshments in the auditorium
Vegetarian/vegan options: Yes
Famous patrons: Stephen Fry, Daniel Craig, Joanna Lumley, Tim Minchin
Open: Penny Mon-Wed 08:00 – 01:00; Thu-Fri 08:00 – 02:00; Sat 10:00-02:00; Sun closed.
Mark’s Bar Mon-Wed 18:00 – post-interval; Thu-Sat 18:00 – 02:00 (Theatre ticket holders only until post-interval)

Lyric Hammersmith Roof Terrace

Lyric Hammersmith – Café, Bar & Grill and Roof Garden

It’d be easy to spend a whole summer’s afternoon (and evening) in the beautiful Hammersmith venue, enjoying a menu of fresh, seasonal produce, with dishes inspired by street food. The sweet potato, lentil, lime and coriander burger with tzatziki and avocado is a winner. The venue is family friendly with a great kids menu. Open to the public all day as well as theatregoers.

Booking required: For large groups only, Tel 020 3475 7720 / email lyricgb@petytonandbyrne.co.uk
Dress code: No
Disabled access: Yes
Vegetarian/vegan options: Yes
Famous patrons: Don’t be surprised to bump into the cast of Made in Chelsea.
Open: Mon-Sat 12:00 – 23:00; Sun 12:00 – 17:00

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre bar

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre 

This Open Air Theatre is set within the luscious grounds of Regent’s Park, with its own picnic lawn and London’s longest theatre bar. The Open Air Theatre’s signature dish is the Regent’s Park Burger but also offers fine dining and picnics to pre-order. A visit this season may also leave you a little squiffy as the venue celebrates Gin in the Park: Sacred London Dry Gin, Bobby’s Gin, Shakespeare Gin and Silent Pool Gin, all served with Fevertree Tonic and garnish.

Booking required: Theatre ticket holders only admitted
Dress code: No, but do dress for all weathers!
Disabled access: Yes
Vegetarian/vegan options: Yes
Famous patrons: Guy Ritchie, Sam Smith, Daisy Ridley and Gerard Butler
Open: Doors open 90 minutes prior to evening performances and 60 minutes prior to matinees. Closed October-April.

Swan Bar & Restaurant

Shakespeare’s Globe – Swan Bar & Restaurant

The Swan Bar & Restaurant is located at the iconic Shakespeare’s Globe on the South Bank. The bar is open all day, serving delicious breakfasts and a full lunch and dining menu – the beef wellington with Madeira and truffle jus is particularly noteworthy. If you’re peckish while strolling along the Thames, the decadent Midsummer Night’s Dream afternoon tea with mulberry scones, clotted cream and Midsummer jam is just the ticket.

Booking required: No, but advised at busy times of the year
Dress code: No
Disabled access: Yes
Vegetarian/vegan options: Yes
Open: Swan Bar Mon-Fri 08:00—late; Sat-Sun 10:00—late. Swan Restaurant: Mon-Sun 12:00-23:00.

Wherever you choose, make the most of London’s wonderful theatre cafés, bars and restaurants – they’re here to enjoy. Bon appétit!


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