The entrance to Le Bel Canto is via the Corus Hotel on Lancaster Gate; a tidy, modern hotel with a fairly busy lobby area and a cocktail bar. Le Bel Canto was to be found on the floor below the hotel lobby.
Although my wife and I are keen on opera and avid foodies we were unsure how the two would fare as one, but our first impressions on arrival at the restaurant were good. The restaurant is fairly small, probably no more than thirty to forty diners at one time, and it is classically and tastefully decked out in deep red and gold. The musical overtones were apparent from the moment we arrived with a grand piano, playing a little Mozart, dominating the centre of the restaurant. Overall the food at Le Bel Canto was traditional French , cooked well, presented well and the portion size was more than adequate. What made this a fabulous evening was the music and the ambience that lent to the overall dining experience. At ten to fifteen minute intervals diners were regaled with arias performed by the waiting staff; solo pieces, duets and ensembles by Mozart, Verdi and Rossini amongst others. The performances are far from static with the action played out amongst the tables, but at no time did this impede the enjoyment of dinner. The concept is unique and the ambience is excellent, one cannot fail to be impressed by the experience.
To start my wife chose the soup of the day, a creamed mixed vegetable soup, and I the Opera Salad. My salad was a fresh green salad, served on a large platter and decorated with pine nuts and a simple dressing. The soup was good and warming. We had arrived shortly before 7.30 in order to enjoy the advertised programme of music and whilst we ate our starter we were entertained with a duet, a Rossini aria, sung beautifully by the waiting staff.
For our mains I ordered the poached salmon, accompanied by an ample portion of mixed vegetables and served with an olive oil salsa. The salmon was poached in green tea apparently! Whatever, it looked and tasted good and the sauce was excellent. My wife chose the lamb shank in a red port sauce, which came served with mashed potato. The meat was tender, the sauce was rich, but not overpowering, and the mashed potatoes were creamy.
At around 9.30 the waiting staff produced a glass of bubbly for every diner, in order that we could enjoy a toast whilst listening to “La Traviata”. Joining in with the chorus was optional, the words not being difficult! A dining moment to remember.
For dessert I had merely a small portion of vanilla ice cream, which was fine, whilst my wife rather opted for the chocolate fondant. I am not personally keen on heavier desserts, but my wife ate around half of the large fondant presented and declared herself full.
At a little over £100 for the two of us, including a perfectly passable bottle of Sauvignon, the restaurant offers good value for money. It is difficult enough to get a good meal in London for that price, let alone one with an opera experience thrown in. My only criticism would be that it would be good to see an a la carte menu with a wider choice of starters and mains.