It’s been a while since The Theatre Café Diner was first rumoured and then announced. Now, after an agonising wait, it is finally ready to open in the West End. Ahead of its official launch this Saturday, I was invited for a special preview to get a taste of all the hard work that is gone into launching it.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of this, The Theatre Café has long been regarded as a hub for theatre fans in London, with many regularly popping in before shows, after shows or just when they’re nearby for coffee and a cake all to the soundtrack of their favourite stagey tunes. Taking inspiration from Ellen’s Stardust Diner in New York, they have expanded the brand to bring us The Theatre Café Diner – a place where you can have a full meal and an extensive drinks list all while a group of incredibly talented servers perform. Ellen’s has become iconic in New York and its equivalent in the West End has been long overdue.
Located in the heart of the West End, nestled in-between the Phoenix Theatre and the Shaftesbury Theatre, a relatively small and subtle exterior, aside from the glittering sign reveals itself to a whole theatrical world on the inside. Based on two levels, areas of the diner are themed with booths for Six and Heathers, sections for &Juliet and Shrek and even a Royal box (where I sat for this preview)
Like The Theatre Café, the walls are adorned with throwbacks to shows past and present with photos and props displayed around the diner.
There’s even a section for the amazing Danny with a cam full of stagey photos from his fellow photographers.
Anyone who has read any of my reviews or seen my tweets know I’m a sucker for a good pun, so you can imagine my delight at the names of the dishes on the menu. Hilarious and a stroke of genius. I had a lot of fun with them. My favourite has to be “She’s got nothing to do with it, I’m the one you want, it’s meat. It’s MEEAAATT!” which is what I went on to order… maybe just for the name. The food is lovely – what you would want from a diner. Simple dishes that taste gorgeous and presented beautifully. I will be returning time and time again until I have tried everything on that menu… twice. They also have a full working bar with wines, spirits and cocktails. And the cocktails there are gorgeous!
This was just the menu for the launch event with the actual menu having more choices on.
Musical theatre songs playing are mixed with live performances from the staff of the diner. The live performances are the real point of difference for the diner and part of what makes it such a fantastic part of the experience. If you’re reading this, you must be a fan of live theatre like me – so to be able to experience it while you are having dinner makes it all the better. And you’ll be pleased to know performers don’t come right up in your face mid-food. We’ve all had to deal with a waiter asking you how your meal is after you have just taken the biggest bite of your burger. So to imagine a performer belting Defying Gravity in your face as you have a mouth full of food would not be advisable!
Here's a video I took of one of the performances. A singing waitress singing something from Waitress was so meta and I loved it!
The performers move around the whole diner on both levels, so if you can’t see them in person, there is a screen to show you what they are up to on the other floor. And what a talented bunch they are. Truly sensational performers with ridiculously incredible vocals, and all incredibly lovely to boot. There’s something special about getting to talk to them as they serve your food after witnessing them bring the house down with stunning vocals.
The other element that really makes The Theatre Café Diner special is the atmosphere. Completely joyous, the feeling of being in a room with likeminded theatre fans is unbeatable and you could really feel how much fun everyone was having together during my visit. Not stuffy or pretentious, completely accessible for everyone with permanent smiles attached to everyone involved.
It has been a long time coming for something like The Theatre Café Diner to arrive in the West End. The team had a big ask to try to match the high standard they had set not just from The Theatre Café, but with people inevitably comparing it to its New York equivalent. I’m pleased to say they have more than risen to the occasion, surpassing all of my expectations to create a truly phenomenal experience. From the food and drink to the performances to the atmosphere in general, The Theatre Diner has immediately become my new favourite stagey spot in the West End, and I’m sure it will become one of yours too. The most exciting addition to the West End, London just got a whole lot stagier!
The Theatre Café Diner opens on Saturday 8th October. You can book in advance at https://thetheatrecafediner.co.uk/ though walk ups are also accepted but not guaranteed