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53 Southwark Street
Better known for its freewheeling theatre, this formidable one-time chocolate factory also houses a popular restaurant that makes the most of the 19th-century building’s quirks (chunky wood beams,
exposed brick, industrial iron columns). Roaming gastronomes join culture cultures over sharing plates, ‘carne’ (charcuterie) platters and eclectic dishes ranging from seared scallops with chorizo
and pea purée to grilled lamb T-bone with warm tabbouleh salad, tztaziki, harissa and basil sauce, via stacked-up burgers, dry-aged steaks and roast chicken with barbecue beans. Various set menus
(some themed, according to the production of the moment) and meal-plus-ticket deals are also tremendous value for a night out. In short, very decent nosh ahead of an evening of excellent
entertainment – you might even see a few cast members lining their stomachs here beforehand. Quaffable beers and wines, too.
53 Southwark Street
Borough Tube Station 380m
London Bridge Tube Station 589m
Bramah Tea & Coffee Museum 85m
Southwark Cathedral 125m
Tues-Sun 12N-3pm Tues-Sat 5.30-11pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Having suffered plate envy on our first visit to the Menier Theatre (you have to walk through the restaurant to reach the theatre), we had already decided that we would not make that mistake again. Although they do a fantastically priced set menu deal with the purchase of theatre tickets, the menu choice allocated to the Funny Girl run did not exactly appeal to us, so we opted for the a la carte instead. Whilst it is not a huge menu, there really is something to suit all tastes and all dishes still reasonably priced. As we could not choose between the vegetarian or carne sharing platter (a mix of the two would have swung the decision) we opted for the whole baked Camembert instead. Ok it is not the most taxing of dishes for anyone to produce, but on a cold winter’s night it certainly hit the spot, especially with the slightly charred ciabatta that accompanied it. For main, I stuck with the mainstream and went for the Classic Menier burger – absolutely bang on, but a somewhat paltry serving of just 6 chunky chips. Yes, I know it is rude to count, but alongside the huge burger, they did look like a bit of an afterthought. My theatre buddy went for the venison sausages and mash, which were fine but nothing out of the ordinary. Even with curtain up at 8pm we did not have time for dessert but it was somewhat relaxing to know that we did not have to rush around being that our seats were within easy reach. Service was friendly and efficient, plenty of decent wines by the glass and whilst I can’t say that I’d return there just to eat, I will certainly reserve a table for any further theatre outings I book there.
Food + drink: 3
The Menier Chocolate Factory is an off-West End theatre that has been created very much in tandem with the building around it. The restaurant and bar space feel very much part of the fabric of the organisation. It's telling that on the night we were there, Timothy and Sam West, the father and son starring in the evening's performance of A Number, were settling down to eat along with members of their audience.
The space is well put together industrial lost and found. Jam jars with tea lights, mismatched furniture, rough hewn wood, exposed pipework and brick. It feels curated, but not affected. The set menu pleasingly changes dependant on the show, regionally relevant to the setting – mood food if you will. Great if you get Aspects of Love, La Cage Aux Folles, or the Italianate thriller the White Devil, but less intriguing if the play is set in modern day London.
Good value at £14, but with only two choices per course. I went for a (slightly too subtle) cauliflower and stilton soup. My guest went for the other starter option, a smoked salmon and chive mousse. Both pleasant enough, but nothing that would set the world alight. The vegetarian main was a treat though. A dense cannonball cake of cloying pumpkin specked risotto was served with a sweet pumpkin puree and courgette spaghetti (well spears in our case, but others looked more accomplished). We finished with an ebullient seasonal fruit crumble, a university rugby player sized portion for a slimfit £3 supplement. It wasn't the most professional meal I've eaten, but there was an enthusiasm and willingness to please that made you forgive mistakes in service, presentation and flavour. Like a meal at a good friend's house, I wanted to like it more than I actually did. The Menier could take advantage of their captive audience and charge much more than they do. The fact they don't, and provide good solid food prior to an evening of excellent theatre, means I'd be happy coming back again and again.
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