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2 Burleigh Street
020 7836 0651
It was a dark day in Theatreland when it was announced that the unofficial actors’ canteen, Joe Allen, was going to close – not least because it was to make way for a boutique hotel owned by one of their own, Robert de Niro. But the move around the corner has re-energised this luvvies’ classic that first opened its doors on Exeter Street in 1977.
A tighter, less labyrinthine layout concentrates the hubbub of the room, while fittings that have been moved lock, stock and piano from Exeter Street look as if they have been here for years. And the American comfort food is the same as ever – adequate rather than amazing, but more than cutting the mustard if you’ve come to soak up the pre- and post-theatre atmosphere or for a boozy weekend brunch with friends; it’s also as well suited to feeding an eight- or eighty-year-old.
‘Eggs Joe Allen’ is a nicely poached Burford atop a thick slice of potato cake, spooned with hollandaise sauce; well-timed calf’s liver comes with mash that is stodgy not smooth; apple strudel is a as sweet as something you’d want to end Sunday lunch. To drink, a well-priced wine list has bags of choice for under £40, while an evening spent at the bar with classic American cocktails would be a hoot. Remember your waiter’s face: like former staffer Graham Norton, he may well be a star of tomorrow.
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2 Burleigh Street
020 7836 0651
Covent Garden Tube Station 388m
Temple Tube Station 451m
Lyceum Theatre 17m
Duchess Theatre 99m
Mon-Thurs 12N-12M (Fri -12.45am) Sat-Sun 10am-12.45am (Sun -10.30pm)
Private room for 24 to 50 seated guests or 70 standing situated just off the main dining area. (Please note, all guests, both seated and standing, must order food and beverages due to licensing.)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
The sad and unexpected closure of the fabulous Bedford & Strand forced me to cast my sights a bit wider for a replacement pre-theatre venue, in an area where chain mediocrity and high end restaurants tend to dominate. Having written Joe Allen’s off previously as a tourist magnet at worst and a late night venue at best, it was with somewhat low expectations that we found ourselves entering its darkened interior on its new (apparently) location on Burleigh Street. I don’t mind admitting that along with a great meal, I also had to eat my words and am now rueing the fact that it has taken so long to discover this little treasure. The staff just get exactly what pre-theatre means and ensured that despite our over-ordering, all the food was delivered promptly enabling us to have an enjoyable rather than rushed meal. Three of us opted for the not-so secret burger and it was absolutely bang on the money and when we turned down the offer of desserts and coffee, the bill just appeared without us having to chase for it. I’m sure I went to the old Joe Allen’s many years ago but too long ago to make any meaningful contribution as to which location is better. But on the basis of this meal and how we were treated, it is now firmly on my “will return” list.
First time we've been following JA's move. Really impressed to see how the atmosphere is just as good as it always was. Real effort has gone into making it feel right. The food was perfect - tasty chicken parmagian, and my friends enjoyed their steaks. The only thing that concerned us was that the end where we realised that the service charge does not go to the waiter (or even split between the waiters). it seems to go to the business to help with the payroll. This did not seem attractive to us. We instead asked to have a new bill with no service charge on it, and then made a separate payment to the waiting staff. But I'm not sure how I feel about going back now. I'm very wary of restaurants arguing that service charges should not be fairly distributed to the service providers and reflect directly the service that has been given. Using it to "ensure all our staff have a living wage" seems questionable - surely they should have this anyway.
It was like Joe had never been away. The big move, from Exeter to Burleigh Street, is in fact a mini trek of around 75 yards but all has been done so skillfully and it's just like old Joe's but better.
No more the descent from the street to the initial darkness it's now a just a step up to the smart new entrance and you're in.
It's all, still, so totally theatrical and inviting - packed on Friday lunchtime with ladies who lunch prior to an early matinee - with a front of house dining area that gives way, through a small arch, to the main theatre comprising spacious downstairs stalls overlooked by the circle.
Charming and faultless service from non-Brexit-fearing staff happy to be here, happy to be working and intending to stay who provided a top commentary on all of the regular dishes.
Our table for three went historically and immediately off menu choosing three Joe Allen, classic bacon/cheese burgers with all the trimmings accompanied by a bottle of El Caminito Malbec - delicious.
Dessert of the day was Classic Pecan Pie & ice cream with espresso chaser and mint teas.
The welcome, the food, the drink & the service charming and faultless.
The end story £113. (inc service of 12.5%) plus a small, additional cash in hand that brought a warm Lithuanian smile & a big thank you.
We shall return.
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JOE ALLEN CHRISTMAS MENU. £35.00 PER PERSON FOR 3 COURSES
JOE ALLEN THANKSGIVING DINNER. £40 PER PERSON FOR 3 COURSES
Daily Set menu - 3 courses for £18.95 per person
Daily Set menu - 2 courses for £16.95 per person
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