Finding the Best Restaurants in Covent Garden
Like Soho, Covent Garden is something of a tourist trap for shopping as well as for Restaurants. It can also be very busy – not just in the main market area and around the opera house but also in areas like Seven Dials and Neal Street which have their own character and which are generally a little less touristy, but no less busy. So finding the best Restaurants can be something of a challenge.
The Opera House is a fabulous white stucco fronted building with a large conservatory that dominates the East side of the market. If you are going to a performance there, the in-house restaurants are actually pretty good. My favourite is the Crush Bar, where they serve a ‘cold dish’ menu, which really works well if you want to eat during the intervals. There are a number of theatres in the area too which add to the early evening chaos in bars and restaurant. Plus, the piazza is well known for street entertainment. There’s a covered area in the main market which allows all-weather performances – often by talented classical musicians. To the west you will find a variety of circus type acts. Shops in the main market area are mostly major fashion retailers – Monsoon, Whistles, Hobbs etc. If you wander up to Neal Street and Seven Dials you will find some smaller boutiques mixed in with fashion brands like Office and Miss 60. Tourist destinations are not usually notable for great restaurants and Covent Garden is no exception. That doesn’t mean you won’t have fun. It does mean that if you want to eat well, you are well advised to decide where you want to go in advance and if you can, book. Like Soho, some of the hip and trendy restaurants in Covent Garden don’t accept bookings. And like Soho, that can be a real problem if you want to eat pre-theatre.
There are hundreds of restaurant in Covent Garden. But not that many I’d put into the classification of ‘best restaurants’ I’ve been to a lot of them and not even tried to review. Places like Cafe Rouge, Belgo, Sofra and the Boulevard Bar which do an efficient job of feeding the pre-theatre visitors. I’ve eaten very well at Bertorellis, but before I was writing reviews and since its part of a group, the quality can change very quickly. I love Rules – supposedly the ‘oldest restaurant in London’, but the last time I ate there was before I wrote reviews. And, one of my favourite ‘standards’ was the Opera Terrace – originally part of the Chez Guerard group, but recently acquired by Brasserie Blanc. I’ll definitely be revisiting if it opens this summer – it boasts a fabulous balcony terrace where you can people watch over Covent Garden and have a great time without even worrying about the food.
Right now, it’s not hard for me to list my top three best restaurants simply because I need to try my long shortlist so there are more than three potential ‘best restaurants’ to chose from.
I loved 10 cases, for its intimacy. For providing something that isn’t ‘routine’ or in the least bit touristy and for good food served without pretension and with a great deal of friendliness.
Opera Tavern simply served us some of the best tapas we had tried in London. That included a fabulous slider, some great freshly carved jamon and extremly tasty venison.
And, Da Polpo gets there for being hip, trendy and not overly expensive and for making my god-daughter very happy with a nutella pizza. Don’t go there expecting haute cuisine, but for a taste of what Russell Norman is about, it’s worth a visit (even if my photos are not up to scratch). Of course if you prefer a Jewish style menu to an Italian one, well, Mishkins works equally well. The point about Russell Norman restaurants is that if you haven’t been to one you should.
Where next for me? In terms of the ‘best restaurants’, I’d like to review Rules and the new Savoy Grill. And, Bertorellis needs a revisit. Clos Maggiore has been recommended to me, I just need a romantic date. That’s probably enough of a long list for now!