It’s less than 90 minutes before the curtain rises on the West End show and you’re in central London desperately trying to find somewhere nearby to dine.
This is no time for indecision. Take it from us, and beeline for one of these excellent restaurants where the pre-/post-theatre menus are sensational and the service is sympathetically swift.
Situated in Covent Garden, this second branch of the famed Michelin-starred Café Murano, in Mayfair, from acclaimed chef Angela Hartnett is a relaxed yet elegant spot for a hearty bite of North Italian cuisine.
On the theatre menu (M-Sa, noon-7 pm; 10-11 pm), expect simple rustic delights such as salt cod with polenta and green olives followed by trout with beetroot and apple salad. The counter is excellent for solo dining, too. Near the Adelphi Theatre, Royal Opera House and Peacock Theatre.
With its vast dining room, buzzing atmosphere and a veritable army of incredible chefs, capable of turning out two or three courses in rapid succession, Sophie’s Steakhouse is one of the Theatreland’s best-value venues. It produces delicious offerings for a pre-/post-show feast (Daily, noon-7 pm; 10 pm-close).
Begin with fried calamari, followed by a classic hamburger or steak frites, then a satisfyingly traditional cheesecake to end. One pound from every theatre menu goes to a children’s charity, so you can feel good about indulging here. Near the Duchess Theatre, Novello Theatre and Theatre Royal.
Bringing a slice of Parisian glamour to Piccadilly Circus, Brasserie Zédel’s glorious art deco basement has to be seen to be believed. Its sheer size means you rarely wait long for a table and there are two set menus to choose from all day: a simple but filling "Prix Fixe" with a particularly excellent tarte aux fruits, or a "Formule" (three courses) featuring the restaurant’s much-loved Boeuf Bourguignon. Near the Theatre Royal, Harold Pinter Theatre, Criterion Theatre and Her Majesty's Theatre.
For something different, try celebrated Hungarian restaurant Gay Hussar in Soho, which has wowed diners for more than 50 years.
Inside, dark wooden panelling and shelves of political biographies set the tone for authentic dishes of Wiener schnitzel and veal goulash. The pre-theatre menu is particularly popular (M-Sa, 5:30-7 pm). Near the Prince Edward Theatre, Soho Theatre, Phoenix Theatre and Dominion.
One final tip: advise staff of a precise needed departure time before being seated, then sit back and relax while they work their magic to ensure the dining experience is complete in time to make the show.