I set off into central London late yesterday afternoon for another evening of food and theatre. These are two of my great passions: good food and good theatre. I love taking advantage of all London has to offer culturally and regularly go to art exhibitions and cinema, but for me there really isn’t anything like the excitement of great live theatre: a fantastic play with an awe inspiring and brilliant cast. And last night’s theatre promised just that: Eugene O’Neill’s classic play, Long Day’s Journey into Night, starring Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville, two of our finest actors. The play has only recently opened and has been gathering wonderful reviews – ‘an unmissable masterpiece’ (Independent) – so I was very much looking forward to it. But at three and a half hours long with just one 15-minute interval, my friend Louise and I were definitely going to be in need of sustenance before taking our seats at Wyndham’s Theatre. I therefore did a quick search of restaurants nearby, thinking it would be nice to find somewhere new. I also wanted to eat close to the theatre; it’s not fun to eat a meal and then be in a rush to make it to curtain-up time or have a long walk to reach the theatre. I was pleased to discover Sartori, an Italian restaurant, just round the corner, barely a couple of minutes walk away, so booked a table there to catch their pre-theatre menu, which finishes at 6.00pm. Pre-theatre menus are great. I don’t really want to spend lots of money on a quick meal before going to the theatre; neither do I want to eat lots and drink much wine and risk feeling sleepy during the play. But food and a glass of wine first was definitely needed, not to mention time to talk to my friend and catch up on our news.
Sartori is in Great Newport Street, just off the Charing Cross Road and near to Leicester Square Tube station. The decor inside is simple and fairly informal. I received a friendly welcome and the restaurant quickly filled up so I was pleased I’d thought ahead to book.
We decided to have the pre-theatre menu at £11.45 for 2 courses. There was a very good choice: 7 starters and 6 main courses. Louise and I both chose the grilled vegetables with balsamic to begin and when it arrived, it looked very appetising.
It was a good beginning to the meal and we enjoyed it. Louise chose Pollo al Limone Con Patate for her main. They translated this as ‘chicken breast in breadcrumbs served with potato’ and she was expecting the chicken to be an escalope in crispy breadcrumbs rather than smothered in sauce. However, she said it tasted good.
My choice was Penne all’Arrabbiata – penne pasta in tomato & basil sauce, chilli and Parmesan.
The waitress smiled as she put it down and told me it was angry. Arrabbiata is Italian for ‘angry’. I laughed and said it was OK, I wasn’t angry. It’s a simple dish but was well done; the sauce obviously fresh and homemade and the pasta cooked to perfection with that al dente bite to it but cooked through. I would have preferred a little more chilli – there wasn’t much ‘angry’ about it – but it was still a good sauce. Louise didn’t want wine and ordered tonic water, but I had a small glass of Nero d’Avola for £4.95, which was good. I liked that they offered 125ml, 175ml and 250ml sized glasses.
We had plenty of time as we’d arrived early so it was great to have plenty of time to talk. We didn’t want a dessert but both ordered coffee. The final bill was £39 including 12.5% tip, so great value, and the meal was good, definitely somewhere to remember, especially pre-theatre. The prices on the main menu looked reasonable too with good choices of pasta and main courses, and I saw some pizzas pass by that also looked good.