You know the drill. Your play starts at 7pm. You don’t have much time but you most certainly need to get some food beforehand otherwise you’ll be horribly hungry and distracted before the interval. Fighting through the crush at the bar to get your hands on some peanuts is not a suitable solution.
There are many great restaurants that do a pre-theatre menu offering both speed and good value. Quo Vadis on Dean Street does a cracking one, as does Green Man & French Horn on St Martin’s Lane. Sometimes, though, you haven’t thought things through and you need to run in somewhere and eat quickly and cheaply.
The National Theatre have several different options for food before, during and after their productions but the newest offering – and one that is to be a stand-alone neighbourhood restaurant – is the Green Room.
Housed in a big glass box behind the theatre, it has a hint of service station to it and inside you may well find a welcome break.
Decorated with props from past productions (including in glass cases inside the tables) the décor could be bemusing: if you didn’t actually know the paintings and things were props you might be – as we initially were – mildly confused as to what aesthetic was going on. It’s good to know in advance why you’ll find a painting of a tiger next to a village scene.
The menu here is family- and wallet-friendly, with nibbles around £4 and mains between £8 and £10.50. There are no sides with the mains, unless you count the tickly lettuce garnish (which I don’t), so you’ll need some of those at £3 each.
Hot Lincolnshire poacher rarebit with crispy pancetta turned out to be three mini-rarebits, delicious with plenty of salty pancetta on top of the rich cheese. If you like nuts and rosemary, there is a danger you will over-like the rosemary nuts. We had to ask for them to be taken away for the sake of our health.
Baby back ribs with barbecue sauce and a side of coleslaw was a pretty decent main course for £13. The ribs were tender, lavishly sauced and generously portioned, and if the barbecue sauce wasn’t the smokiest, punchiest I’ve had, it was tasty. The coleslaw was crisp, fresh and not cloying or overly coated in dressing.
Hanger steak didn’t really seem like hanger steak from its shape, however my companion told that it was perfectly good, well cooked and nicely seasoned, and for £10.50, well, you’re not doing too badly.
The pudding menu reads like a list of childhood favourites – Knickerbocker glory, profiteroles and baked Alaska – so this is sure to keep those with a sweet tooth chirpy throughout even the most depressing of plays. The Green Room is a friendly, cheap and tasty addition to the South Bank’s food scene.