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Opera Tavern

23 Catherine Street, Covent Garden, London, United Kingdom, WC2B 5JS
Critics Review 14/20

About Opera Tavern

Opera Tavern is a beautiful two-storey bar and restaurant in the heart of theatre land. Located on Catherine Street we are opposite the Drury Lane Theatre, seconds from the Opera House, a stone's throw from The Strand and a lovely walk across Waterloo Bridge from the South Bank.

We specialise in Italian and Spanish influenced tapas and have a charcoal grill on the ground floor where we cook up all manner of tasty meaty treats including our very popular mini Ibérico pork and foie gras burger. We've taken our inspiration from travels all over Spain and Italy and hope you enjoy the results!

Cuisine: Italian, Spanish
Dress Code: Smart Casual
Price point: $ $
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Critics Review
Review by Andy Hayler
14/20
Despite its name, The Opera Tavern is in fact directly opposite the Theatre Royal, but is a short stumble from the Royal Opera House. It is the latest (opened in January 2011) restaurant from the team that brought you Salt Yard and Dehesa. The restaurant is spread over two floors, with a bar and tables downstairs and a further seating area upstairs I have now had several meals here, and the cooking standard is consistently good. On a recent meal i was particularly impressed with an excellent fig tart for dessert. What follows are notes from a meal in March 2011. The atmosphere was lively, and the combination of wooden floor, music and fairly raucous diners (we were eating late on a Saturday night) meant that the noise levels were quite high. The format is tapas, with a wide range of Spanish nibbles available. Bread was sliced sourdough lightly char-grilled and served with aioli or olive oil (£2.55). I am not keen on bread being charged for in restaurants, though prices here are generally modest and the bread itself was decent enough (13/20). The mainly Spanish and Italian wine list had plenty of selections under £40 (some as low as £17), with wines such as Poderi Colla Riesling 2009 at £39 for a wine you can find in the shops for around £12, Honora Vera 2009 at £18 for a £5 wine, the excellent Vino Tondonia 2001 at a somewhat steep £59 for a wine that can be found for £15, and Roda 1 2004 at £76.60 for a wine that retails at around £33. There are a few more ambitious wines at relatively kind mark-up levels, such as the divine Vega Sicilia Unico 1998 at £295 for a wine that costs £187 in the shops, or the Borgogno Riserva Barolo 1982 at £140 compared to a retail price of around £79. Padron peppers (£4.25) had good taste and were nicely grilled (13/20), while slices of Lomo Iberica de Bellotta from Extramadura (£4), served on a wooden board, was always going to go down well (the hams here are supplied from Brindisa). The dish of the night for me was the Iberico mini burger (£5.50), made with lovely Iberico pork and flavoured with a little foie gras, served in a little brioche bun; this was served with a few mild green chillies on the side (15/20). Scallops (£3.25 each) were carefully cooked and served with a smooth butternut squash puree, with a little bite provided by a shallot and truffle dressing and texture by some migas (fried breadcrumbs), giving a well-balanced dish (14/20). Patatas fritas (£3.75) were chips with a Bravas sauce with garlic. The chips were good, being triple-cooked, though they were still not as crisp as they might have been, while the Bravas sauce seemed a little subdued to me (13/20). Young artichokes (£6.50) were fried, dressed with a smoked garlic and shallot vinaigrette and served with a poached free range egg. This dish worked well, the artichokes having good taste, the egg providing some richness, the vinaigrette cutting through the richness (14/20). Iberico Pressa (£6) was shoulder of pork, cooked slowly and resulting in tender meat in a rich jus, balanced by with capers, lemon and shallot – this was a lovely, rich dish (15/20). Some Manchego cheese at the end (£7.40) gave a taste of three different ages of Manchego; this was pleasant enough. Coffee was quite good (14/20). The bill for dinner came to £59 each with one of the better bottles of wine. Service from our French waitress was genuinely good; she was efficient and friendly but also knew a lot about the cooking processes and the sources of ingredients. This was avery enjoyable evening. I was able to pay this a second visit a few days later for lunch and try some additional dishes. You may not be able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but you should be able to make better pig’s ear than the ones here, which were simply too hard in texture (12/20).Other than that the standard was generally around the 14/20 level once again, with comforting croquettes, pleasant gnocchi gratin and refreshing mackerel escabeche. A chocolate fondant was also nicely made. Once again, the service was very good indeed.
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Visited On Sunday, 19 November 2017

Everything was great. Lovely food, friendly service, nice interior and casual atmosphere.

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Visited On Sunday, 19 November 2017

I had a meal last night at The Opera Tavern with my sister, mother and father. As always the food was delicious and imaginative, and the service warm and friendly. Highly recommend!!

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Visited On Sunday, 19 November 2017

Tapas excellents dans une bonne ambiance souriante et decontractee service efficace Bravo on reviendra !

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Visited On Saturday, 18 November 2017

The tastiest food I’ve had in a while and brilliant value for money - just £100 for the three of us including a bottle of wine.

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Visited On Saturday, 18 November 2017

Great food great service

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Visited On Thursday, 16 November 2017

Excellent produce and cookery. Requested table downstairs and was accommodated. Service attentive professional but relaxed. Wine choice superb. Fantastic restaurant one of the best in London. Thank you as always.

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Visited On Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Always wonderful staff. The food is consistently good, but portions are small and therefore not great value. The puddings and cheeses are spot on. The upstairs room got very noisy which made conversation almost impossible and none of your staff thought to turn the music off. Be courageous and just switch the music off. Please.

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Visited On Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Wine wasn’t great, food was great, good value for money, will be back!

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Visited On Sunday, 12 November 2017

Consistently great food, delicate, inventive and expertly prepared

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Visited On Sunday, 12 November 2017

We could not get reservations the night before for a large group. Since we had an extra night in London, we decided to go on our own and it was a great decision. The food was amazing and our server could not have been more helpful. It was great to learn about the history of the building. We can't want to go back.

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Visited On Saturday, 11 November 2017

Lovely pre-theatre dinner. A great tapas menu, not your typical patatas bravas and meatballs (which I do love)

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Visited On Friday, 10 November 2017

Great food, nicely presented in a lovely setting, with friendly and attentive staff and a good vibe. Having said all that, some dishes overpriced, I think. But thoroughly recommended for a good night out.

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Visited On Saturday, 11 November 2017

Food not as good as usual. Service was impeccable.

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Visited On Friday, 10 November 2017

We booked in for a pre-theatre meal. The food was excellent and the staff very helpful. We liked it so much we went back after the show for a drink.

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Visited On Friday, 10 November 2017

Always a lovely dining experience. The error of the additional guest was quickly rectified with a table upstairs. The late night reservation meant we had a limited time to order the meal - and wine; this could have been made clear to us and disappointing 11pm last orders. Though thankfully desserts and dessert wines were not li.ited by this time.

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Visited On Friday, 10 November 2017

Superb

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Visited On Wednesday, 08 November 2017

Great food, atmosphere and friendly staff!

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Visited On Tuesday, 07 November 2017

Great food and service. We found the choice and volume of music to be a little irritating and loud respectively. We were sat next to a speaker but with free other people in the restaurant it was a little much.

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Visited On Saturday, 04 November 2017

When we looked at the menu my wife was a bit sceptical, she's also a bit worried by the 'tapas' style of eating.......Put simply this was one of the best meals I can remember, kind and helpful staff, superb food and totally relaxed atmosphere. Simply sit down and relax, the specially imported Spanish beer was great too!!

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Visited On Wednesday, 01 November 2017

Great service and very friendly and helpful staff. Food was ok.

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Visited On Saturday, 28 October 2017

A big thumbs up for Ella, superb service and a real enthusiast for the restaurant. added a real touch of sparkle to the evening.

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Visited On Friday, 27 October 2017

Excellent food as always, interesting, attractive and flavoursome.

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Visited On Friday, 27 October 2017

Fantastic service and a nice intimate atmosphere. Food and drinks were excellent.

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Visited On Saturday, 28 October 2017

Our waiter was charming and helpful but he seemed to be the only guy working there most of the time. Service was therefore inattentive. The upstairs was unbearably hot eve though we asked if a window could be opened or AC put on. This was not done. No one even acknowledged us as we left. Overall a very tepid experience. This is a shame as most of the food was good.

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Visited On Saturday, 28 October 2017

A lovely relaxed and delicious meal in the downstairs bar area

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