London is celebrated as perhaps having the most vibrant and eclectic theatre district in the world. Yes, going for an evening of roaring grease paint and smelly crowd is still a treat but it’s never been more accessible. Tickets are easy to book and you won’t need to mortgage the kids to finance the trip… but how about turning the adventure into an unhurried and memorable event?
Why not consider a pre- or post-theatre meal at the Stanza. Overlooking Shaftesbury Avenue the 80 cover first floor restaurant offers a comfy perch for relaxing and people-watching. The décor is modern with dark wood and several pieces of urban art to give a bit of city buzz. This is a surprisingly good-value venue right where you need it to be. It’s a short walk from every theatre of note so you’ll not need to invest in a taxi ride to get to your show before the curtain rises… although an encounter with a London cab driver is often amusing and educational it’s frequently costly.
Tourists praise London for many things: its historic buildings, museums, charming policemen but food hardly ever reaches the list. Great food is all around but it’s a matter of finding it. Locals will have favourite eateries with good food at reasonable prices but you need to be in the know. You could walk right by Stanza’s anonymous entrance and that would be a shame.
Stanza has a menu that, although not the longest around, is a good representation of the changed face of modern British cuisine. Head chef Maggie John Lewis has imagination and style and offers a bill of fare that I would be happy to eat my way through (I’ll be returning for Maggie’s signature dish of Braised Pork Belly stuffed with apricots served with crushed potatoes and caramelised apple). She has graced the kitchens of Grosvenor House Hotel, 86 Park Lane, Chamberlain’s Restaurant, and Bistro 11 before becoming the jewel in the crown of Stanza.
Maggie makes a melt-in-the-mouth Daube of Beef that is presented as a terrine. Lamb Sweetbread Salad is another dish that shows flair, and Poached Salmon with Crayfish Sauce would be out of reach of most people’s pockets but here has a price tag of only £21.00. The menu relies on seasonal produce and fresh flavours. If you don’t have time for a meal before theatre-going then visit for a warm chocolate fudge brownie with walnuts and burnt ice‐cream. This is exceptional and my only suggestion would be that perhaps it would be a good idea to sell the ice cream in boxes by the litre.
Not only can Stanza provide a tempting meal but they also have a selection of cocktails enough to delight any mixology enthusiast. The bar is 9.5 metres long and is equipped with bar staff who can twirl, spin and ignite drinks with the best of ‘em. The Earl Grey Martini would be an ideal unwinder.
Visit Stanza on the internet at www.stanzalondon.com but visit in person at Stanza Restaurant and Late Night Bar, 93 – 107 Shaftesbury Avenue, London. W1D 5DY
[This restaurant is currently closed.]
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018