Saturday, September 18, 2010

Joe Allen Restaurant Hides in Central London

Discreet location is usually not something a restaurant is proud about but this location advertises it on their website. I asked my server about the discreet entrance. She said this helps to cater to the loyal clientele or those who are aware of the Joe Allen name rather than to the tourists walking off the street. I have to say the discreet location does no harm. Even though I chose to dine rather early at 5pm, almost every table in the main dining room was filled in an hour.

My friend Marc introduced me to Joe Allen in New York City and I have returned to that location in successive visits. The London location differs in the art work on the wall. Rather than the posters of failed Broadway productions, this location sports entertainment posters from New York City in general.

The restaurant is in the basement level so prepare to walk down a narrow stairway. Once at the base of the stairway, you enter the bar area and beyond a wall with arched windows is the main dining room. The ambience is casual with dim lighting.

The restaurant offers a three-course pre-theatre meal for £18 (US$27) not including gratuity and drinks. I started with lentil soup, then grilled tilapia and ended with a chocolate desert with a banana sauce. A tasty meal at a reasonable price for London. A Samuel Adams beer and coffee complemented the meal. Bread comes with the meal. The wait staff was efficient and all shared duties in servicing tables.

This location of Joe Allen opened in 1977 and is located at 13 Exeter Street. If you will be attending theatres along the Strand or in Covent Garden, this location is perfect. Restaurant hours is Mon-Fri 8:00am-12:45am; Sat 11:30am-12:45am; and Sun 11:30am to 11:45pm. More info can be found at

Photos: Above, the inconspicuous entrance to the restaurant; below top to bottom (note: all photos taken with iPhone which explains their grainy appearance), main dining room, grilled tilapia and chocolate desert.


Redford said...

As a pre-theatre meal I thought Joe Allen London, like its New York relative, was absolutly amazing. Being tucked away meant there weren't any lound/drunk/obnoxious tourists but rather mainly loyal clientele and theatre goers. A perfect start to the night.

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