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.