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September 11th, 2019
Off to see a show at the theatre in Bath, Bristol, Weston-super-Mare or Clevedon? Dining out beforehand can be the perfect prelude to the performance. We’ve put together our pick of places for pre-theatre dinner close to the main theatres, that are just as much part of the evening’s entertainment as the show.
Tucked away in the basement of a former bank vault in the heart of the Old City is The Ox. The restaurant’s dim lighting, heavy-hung paintings and 1920s-style fringed lampshades ooze prohibition vibes and give the place an atmospheric, almost theatrical air. The Ox’s forte is steak with some mouthwatering sides (think triple-cooked chips, mac ‘n’ cheese and the like) and their early bird offer of a 6oz rump steak, fries, sauce and glass of house wine for £15 makes it an exceptionally good pre-Bristol Hippodrome meal option (available 5-7pm, Monday to Friday).
Also located in Bristol’s Old City, this top-notch ravioli restaurant specialises in the art of freshly-made stuffed pasta, served with exceptional wines, remarkable service and an unbeatable atmosphere. Plates - which lean towards Spanish and Italian produce - are deceptively simple, creatively presented and so zinging with flavour, they might even steal the show.
There are few places more convenient to eat before a show than in the theatre itself. Housed within Bristol Old Vic, the 1766 Bar & Kitchen (so-named for the year the theatre was born), has received rave reviews ever since it arrived on the scene a year ago. Leave a couple of hours to enjoy their three-course pre-show dinner, or if that’s not long enough, they’ll serve your pudding in the interval! Simply add the pre-theatre dining to your ticket purchase when booking and voila! Tobacco Factory Theatres and The Wardrobe Theatre also have excellent onsite restaurants.
Just across the road from Colston Hall, this vibrant restaurant boasts a huge outdoor terrace with views across the city centre. On the menu you’ll find Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, all cooked in their wood-fired oven, charcoal robata grill or charcoal rotisserie. For pre- and post-theatre diners, they’ll also knock 20% off the food bill on production of a valid theatre ticket. There’s also daily happy hour cocktails to make the most of between 4pm and 9pm and regular DJs to get you in the mood for a dramatic night out.
Relatively new to Bristol’s Harbourside, this trendy collection of independent cafés, restaurants, bars and shops in repurposed shipping containers has catapulted the city’s waterside to serious foodie status. People flock here for al fresco dining with Harbour views and show-stopping food - from tapas to Japanese cuisine to gourmet fish and chips. You’ll need to check individual restaurants for opening times but most will be ready to seat you with plenty of time before the show at city centre theatres.
This refurbed Victorian lido in Clifton is a great option for those headed to Redgrave Theatre or Bristol Improv Theatre. Go early enough and you can treat yourself to a pre-theatre spa and dine package, soaking in the outdoor jacuzzi, steaming in the Scandianavin-style sauna and swimming in the open-air pool before dining at the glass-fronted, poolside restaurant. If you haven’t got that long a few rounds of sensational tapas should do the trick.
This independent establishment serves small plates and chargrills made from seasonal ingredients, but places its hand-selected wines in the limelight. You’ll find a huge selection of wine by the glass and bottle to sup in-house, plus creative British food on the menu. There are two wine bars to choose from - the closest to Theatre Royal and the Ustinov Theatre is the one on Chapel Row (about 3-minutes walk) which is open from 11.30am, or you’ll find another on Walcot Street (more of a 12-minute stroll).
Tuck into authentic Neapolitan pizza before the curtain goes up at this artisan pizzeria, just two minutes away from Theatre Royal. Award-winning pizza chef Frabizio Mancinetti's secret recipe is behind the delicious puffy crusts, which are then topped with fresh, seasonal ingredients. As well as being masters of their pizza craft, they also know a thing or two about good Italian plonk (and own the wine bar next door, whose list you're able to view if you'd like a more extensive selection).
Inspired by the pintxos bars of San Sebastian, this Basque-style tapas bar is slap-bang in the heart of Bath’s theatre district. The cosy bar has an authentic, laid-back Spanish vibe, dedicated sherry menu to accompany the mouth-watering sharing plates such as albondigas (meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce), fried squid with garlic mayo and fried padron peppers and a leafy courtyard garden where you can imagine you’re soaking up Basque country rays before the show.
Oozing grandeur from its ornate ceiling to the tiled floor, this all-day dining venue, inspired by its original Covent Garden sister serves contemporary British breakfasts, brunches, lunches, afternoon teas, pre-theatre nosh and slap-up evening dining. Chandeliers grace the surroundings, vibrant prints adorn the walls, the bar is quite spectacular and the food is darn tasty too! There’s even a roof terrace for al fresco dining in nice weather. Bravo.
Yoji is a Japanese restaurant that would be quite at home in one of Bristol’s classiest districts. Serving sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki, tempura and other beautifully-presented Japanese faves, all of which are prepared in an open-kitchen. It’s said that the actor Nick Cage once popped in for a meal with his Japanese wife, so it MUST be good thespian fuel.
This family-run restaurant, housed inside an 18th century building, once sat right on the beach, until the introduction of Weston’s seawall in 1885. Now a road separates the town’s oldest building from the beach, but there are still sea views to be had. On the menu you’ll find good hearty Mediterranean-inspired dishes, steaks, seafood and salads. From here it’s just a 4-minute walk to the Playhouse Theatre.
Hill Road, located a stone’s throw from the famous Victorian pier is where it’s at for independent restaurant choice and pre-theatre dining in the seaside town of Clevedon. But it's unpretentious fine-dining eatery, Puro, run by couple Dom and Alex Lamy that is 'chewing the scenery' here. Modern British cuisine with a good dash of seafood dominates the menu and a lot of thought has gone into the wine and cocktail list. If you’re there mid-week, don’t miss the £25 Charcuterie and bottle of wine deal - a steal! Eat surrounded by Prudence Maltby’s artwork before getting the show on the road.
- Click here to find out more about Bath and Bristol's theatre scene with our guide.
- Look for more places to grab a bite to eat before the show on Visit Bristol's website.
- For more pre-theatre dining inspiration in Bath, take a look at Visit Bath's website.
- Discover plenty of places to dine out on the North Somerset coast on Discover Clevedon's website.