London’s best pre-theatre restaurant is CÔTE St Martin’s Lane

As an audience member, it’s often a challenge in London finding a great restaurant near enough to your theatre to be able to enjoy a meal without too much stress about timings.

Perhaps you, like me, have previously had a skin-of your-teeth pre-theatre meal that arrived too late or too cold, leaving you frantically trying to get your bill paid and ending up running to the theatre, leaving you with indigestion that lasts through the first half of your show. Not a good start to your expensive evening of relaxation! Perhaps like you, I vowed never to have this happen to me again- and since 2012 it never has. Let mel share with you my secret.

Having worked in the theatre business for 35 years, I have many people calling me and asking about good pre-theatre restaurants- and how to get into them. I have also organised many hundreds of meals on behalf of clients, individuals and theatre groups. Since their opening in 2011, CÔTE St Martin’s Lane has been the TheatreLand restaurant that I have recommended exclusively, and they have never let me – or my many guests – down.

Pre-theatre dining is a fine art in itself, and the highly-experienced CÔTE St Martin’s Lane team have it down to a tee. Being at the heart of Theatreland, just a few steps away from The Coliseum (currently with HAIRSPRAY), the Noel Coward (currently with 2.22), the Duke of Yorks (currently closed), Wyndham’s (shortly to reopen with LEOPOLDSTRADT), the Garrick (currently with BILLIONAIRE BOY) and the Cambridge (reopening September 16th with MATILDA).

Anyone going to any of these shows will find CÔTE within easy walking distance, and another bonus is that the restaurant is just two minutes from Leicester Square tube station.

CÔTE is a renowned French bistrot with a monthly-changing menu of specials and fixed price menus which are renowned for their quality and excellent value. That’s before we talk about the buzzy atmosphere which adds to a great night out, and the warmth of the gold-leafed and mirrored walls, with an authentic French feel of attractively tiled floors and dark wood furniture which exudes simple sophistication. You can relax at CÔTE, knowing everything’s taken care of.

I well remember chatting to a couple of gentlemen who used to dine at a very fancy French restaurant before finding out that their favourite wine was at CÔTE for half the price they were paying previously. Lured by the wine, they grew to enjoy the attention to detail and quality of the food at CÔTE, and, like many others we have encountered, have since become regular visitors.

Some of the friendly, helpful and highly-efficient Cote St Martin’s Lane team in the restaurant’s intimate, quieter rear room

Regular customers are, along with word-of-mouth recommendations, the lifeblood of restaurants, and CÔTE is the recipient of much customer loyalty. When the restaurant recently reopened after a period of closure, the place was fully booked from opening until closing – mostly, I am told, by their regulars celebrating their return. And we were there too!

Theatregoers love its proximity to their theatres, and you can always rely on the staff being up to date with theatre information, as they take a keen interest in the theatres and the shows around them, keeping up to date with shows opening and closing, special events – whatever may affect their footfall. Every one of the team, from the management to floor team to kitchen team are exemplary at what they do.

There is another theatrical connection that CÔTE St Martin’s Lane has. Apart from the huge number of theatregoers, a good number of creative theatre people including producers (both established and emerging) can be seen here, whether with guests pre-theatre or enjoying a leisurely lunch meeting to discuss new production and collaboration plans.

When you prefer to enjoy al fresco dining on a warm Summer evening, CÔTE has the answer! (and it’s just two minutes from Leicester Square tube)
The theatrically decorated outside space (The road is mostly pedestrianised now)

Since they reopened , CÔTE has acquired outside dining space due to the lower part of St Martin’s Lane being pedestrianised, which makes the street very attractive for an al fresco meal rendezvous. This is thanks to the hard work of local businesses and placemakers like Placemaking London’s brilliant Daniel Johnson who have encouraged Westminster Council’s initiative which will be in place until at least next year, and hopefully will be made permanent after that.

If you are reassured by seeing safety and sensible health procedures, you’ll be glad to hear that CÔTE has thoughtfully managed safety procedures to put diners at our ease with hand sanitiser gel generously sited around the restaurant for your use.

So if you’re looking for a pre-theatre restaurant with the warmest welcome in London, the best service, scrupulously clean environment, and fabulous food at brilliant prices, you’ll want to book CÔTE St Martin’s Lane to guarantee your perfect pre-show meal.

Have a wonderful time!

CÔTE Brasserie, 50, St Martin’s Lane , London WC2N 4EA

For menus and reservations, click here

KIDSWEEK is back with bargains galore!

The first sign of a proper return to theatre appears in KIDSWEEK, the misleadingly-titled month (!) of August when children can get to see one of a range of top West End shows Free when they visit with a full-paying adult.

Promoted by Official London Theatre, the promotion happens across the whole month, with lots of shows to suite every taste being available.

This year there are no add-on activities as in previous years -owing to the continuing caution over Covid -but there are online activities that your youngsters can engage in instead.

You can find out more at the Kidsweek page here

Theatres Trust announces new small-scale grants

The Theatres Trust and The Linbury Trust have just announced that they are to award a first round of over £69k in grants from the Small Grants Programme to 14 theatres across the UK for projects to improve their accessibility, sustainability, and viability, allowing them to welcome back audiences old and new after the devastating period of closure due to Covid.

The scheme was set up to support theatres across the UK with projects to improve their accessibility, sustainability, and viability, allowing them to welcome back audiences old and new after the devastating period of closure.

Projects range from installing a Changing Places toilet alongside other vital accessibility works and improving technology to develop theatres’ digital infrastructure, upgrades to more sustainable heating systems, and essential repairs to electrics, safety equipment, and toilets to help them remain viable and thrive.

The Small Grants Programme has been made possible thanks to the support of The Linbury Trust and donations from Judy Craymer CBE and Charles Michael Holloway Charitable Trust.

The theatres to benefit are

Angles Theatre
Finborough Theatre
Lawrence Batley Theatre
Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith 
Malvern Theatres
Pateley Bridge Playhouse
Romiley Little Theatre
Stables Theatre
Stanley Arts
Theatr Brycheiniog
Theatro Technis
Tower Theatre Folkestone
Trinity Theatre Tunbridge Wells
Worcester Swan

The second round of this Small Grants Programme initiative is now open, inviting applications for grants of up to £5,000 for not-for-profit theatres.

Watch Now: Finborough offers another classic revival – with a few intriguing twists!

Yet again the brilliant Finborough Theatre comes up with another online offering to enjoy through August. This time it’s another in their ever-fascinating line of theatrical rediscoveries which are always worth seeing. Another intriguing facet to this production is the appearance in the cast of two people best known as theatre critics not actors- Michael Billington and Fiona Mountford. Intrigued? Me too!

Presented as part of the Kensington and Chelsea Festival, this play is – intriguingly- actually located in the borough, in the streets in and around the Finborough itself. The play is available now until 25 August.

MASKS AND FACES OR, BEFORE AND BEHIND THE CURTAIN by Charles Reade and Tom Taylor was written and first performed in 1852

“We are actors. The most unfortunate of all artists. Nobody regards our feelings…”

Country gentleman Ernest Vane comes to London and is seduced into the celebrity lifestyle of a group of players – soon discarding his new wife for the more obvious charms of the great stage actress Peg Woffington.

In the tradition of The School for Scandal and The Rivals, Masks and Faces is both a 18th century period caper and a tribute to the backstage world of the theatre, complete with the hapless failed playwright, Triplet, and his hungry family, to real-life writer Colley Cibber, and the ghastly critics Soaper and Snarl……

Set in the 18th century, written in the 19th century, filmed in the 20th century (with an all-star cast), and now presented for the first time online, MASKS AND FACES is a celebration of making theatre.

First performed in 1852, the history of MASKS AND FACES is rooted in Kensington and Chelsea and the local area around the Finborough Theatre. It provided Ellen Terry – a former resident of Finborough Road, and a long term resident of Earl’s Court – with one of her first and most acclaimed leading roles. The production is supported by the Friends of Brompton Cemetery, next to the Finborough Theatre, where the co-author Tom Taylor, and actors Ben Webster and Sir Squire and Lady Bancroft – all known for their roles in Masks and Faces – lie buried.

Presented by Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre as part of The Kensington + Chelsea Festival 2021 which runs from 21 June–31 August. The Kensington + Chelsea Festival will bring people together to inspire and be inspired, offering a season of arts experiences in venues and unusual spaces, putting culture at the heart of pandemic recovery. The multi-disciplinary will celebrate creativity and culture for everyone. The Festival mix spans visual art, public art, design, theatre, circus, opera, dance, music, outdoor arts, comedy, spoken word, young people’s take-over stages, family shows, talks, micro-commissions, with creative experiments enabling audiences to see artists bringing new ideas to life.

MASKS AND FACES will be available to watch online from Wednesday, 28 July at 6.00pm to Wednesday, 25 August 2021 at midnight. The show will be available with subtitles on Screensaver here.


Find the theatre’s information about the show here

Society for Theatre Research announces new grants

Are you, or do you know, a theatre practitioner or researcher working through the pandemic and in need of financial help to develop a project?

The Society for Theatre Research has just announced they will be awarding twenty support grants of £200 available to help theatre practitioners and researchers through the ongoing problems caused by the pandemic. These grants are for practitioners working in the UK to facilitate British and British-related theatre projects.

The application is quick and closing date for applications is Friday 13th August.

You can find more information and application details here