Lunch is a meal that can easily be overlooked, as it’s usually eaten al desko while trying to reply to emails. Covent Garden, though typically known for its tourist trap chains, is also an excellent place for a satisfying midday meal that can be enjoyed at your leisure. From savoury moules frites to hearty five-course menus, here are 12 great lunch options in Covent Garden.
Why we like it: This London outpost of Keith McNally’s upscale bistro lives up to the reputation of his NYC original. For those visiting at lunch time, the menu boasts decadent dishes such as moules frites and escargots, to duck confit with Jersey Royals, wild garlic, mushrooms and cipollini onions. Balthazar’s all-day offering also includes delectable pastries from its next door boulangerie, should you want something sweet to end your lunch with.
Where: 4-6 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ
Why we like it: The Barbary Coast evokes images of an exotic land of traders and pirates – and it provides the inspiration for the second London restaurant from the team behind The Palomar. Like its big brother, The Barbary offers an enticing blend of Israeli cooking with Mediterranean ingredients, but also adds North African spices and cooking techniques. Pop in for lunch to enjoy dishes such as baba ghanoush, chicken abu kalmash or damasgate asparagus.
Where: 16 Neal’s Yard, WC2H 9DP
Barrafina Adelaide Street
Why we like it: London’s three branches of Barrafina can hold their own against Spain’s finest, and Adelaide Street is no exception. As the dishes range from a wide selection of lighter to heavier meals, head to this location at lunch to tuck into the likes of pimientos de padrόn, cuttlefish croquetas, or Iberian pork ribs for a midday meal that’s both tasty and affordable. While there, make the most of the afternoon and finish off with a glass of bubbly Pares Balta Brut Cava.
Where: 10 Adelaide Street, WC2N 4HZ
Why we like it: With a menu that boasts a selection of reliably good stateside staples, Christopher’s is a prime lunchtime destination for both tourists and Covent Garden regulars. From juicy Maine lobsters and prime steaks hailing from the US, Scotland and Australia, to moist Maryland crab cakes or slow-cooked pork belly, this is the perfect menu to help you forget about that upcoming meeting and beat that midday slump.
Where: 18 Wellington Street, WC2E 7DD
Why we like it: Cinnamon Bazaar spices up Covent Garden’s foodie hotspot, Maiden Lane, with this appealingly vibrant and relaxed bonne bouche. The budget menu revolves around different sized sharing plates, snacks and chaats (street food), ideal for a group lunch or a meeting. Enjoy an unlimited selection of street food from Chamiya, the restaurant’s chaat trolley, which serves up the likes of Mughlai style mushroom and green pea curry or bazaar shrimp fried rice with bok choy.
Where: 28 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7JS
Why we like it: Frenchie was the nickname Jamie Oliver affectionately pinned on Gregory Marchand when he was head chef at Fifteen. In his nickname namesake restaurant, however, Marchand’s eclectic menu is more Blighty than Brittany. It’s two or three-course lunch menu boasts savoury dishes ranging from duck foie gras with melon, kaffir, lime and red currant, to courgette lasagna, all great options for a posh business lunch or an indulgent afternoon pick-me-up.
Where: 16 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QH
Hawksmoor Seven Dials
Why we like it: The beefy Hawksmoor chain somehow manages to get everything right, from its glorious 35-day-aged steaks supplied by The Ginger Pig, to its creative cocktails. For lunch, enjoy the express menu, which for a set price allows peckish lunchtime diners to indulge in a two or three-course menu. Enjoy a starter of bone marrow with onions before moving onto mains such as a Hawksmoor hamburger, and finishing off with a selection of puddings, such as sticky toffee pudding.
Where: 11 Langley Street, WC2H 9JG
Why we like it: As a celeb-friendly fixture on the glamorous West End scene, a glittering 2015 makeover gave pride of place to this restaurant’s beautiful vintage-styled bar. It’s The Ivy’s eclectic menu, however, that makes it a prime lunchtime destination. Guests can dive into the likes of popcorn rock shrimps, salmon ceviche with blackened corn, grilled calves’ liver and more to satisfy any lunchtime cravings.
Where: 1-5 West Street, WC2H 9NQ
Why we like it: With a menu filled with American comfort food classics, this Burleigh Street restaurant is ideal for those seeking a quick trip to North America while on their lunch break. Hearty crowd pleasers include a lobster brioche roll with spicy mayonnaise, or a twist on a classic order of mac ‘n’ cheese, made with five cheeses and served with crispy shallots alongside a tomato and red onion salad.
Where: 2 Burleigh Street, WC2E 7PX
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Why we like it: With a string of Michelin stars to his name, Joël Robuchon offers stellar gastronomy at the London outpost of his global empire. The restaurant finds its home on the first floor, which is L’Atelier’s largest space, making it great for groups or business lunches. If you visit for an afternoon meal, enjoy a three or five-course set menu which includes dishes such as beetroot tartare, seared cod, or roasted heirloom carrots with cumin, date puree and carrot crumble.
Where: 13-15 West Street, WC2H 9NE
Why we like it: A charming addition to historic Somerset House, Spring showcases the considerable culinary talents of Skye Gyngell, who rose to foodie fame with a Michelin star at Petersham Nurseries Café. Her cooking puts impeccably sourced native ingredients centre stage in a seasonal menu with disarmingly simple dishes. If you’re visiting for lunch, start with an order of beetroot and fennel with celery yoghurt, before dining on a main of grilled lamb cutlets with gratin of aubergine, herbs and tomatoes.
Where: Somerset House, Lancaster Place, WC2R 1LA
Tandoor Chop House
Why we like it: This small, curious restaurant plants its flag firmly in comfort-food territory, with a short menu of Anglo-Indian combinations designed for mass appeal. The restaurant strikes a casual tone with bare, closely packed tables and an easy-going crowd of young professionals and families popping in for lunch. For those in a hurry, opt for the Tandoor Lunch Thali, which is a plate made up of your choice of black pepper chicken, house tandoor chicken, squash tikka, lasooni paneer or cauliflower chaat.
Where: 8 Adelaide Street, WC2N 4HZ
If you like Covent Garden at any time of the day, check out of our full list of the best restaurants in the area.