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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 Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Food was delicious and came out in a timely manner, the staff were polite and made the evening extremely enjoyable

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Visited On Saturday, 14 October 2017

Great evening, great food

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Visited On Sunday, 15 October 2017

A wonderful evening in a terrific location - great food!

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Visited On Sunday, 15 October 2017

Second visit. Had the belly pork again but it was not as good as the first time round, beans rather flavourless. Prefer Patatas Bravas served in the traditional way, this time they served fries with the sauce and aioli in separate pots. Prawns were good as was the courgette flower. House wine expensive for 175ml glass.

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Visited On Saturday, 14 October 2017

The food was delicious - beautifully flavoursome and very nicely presented - and the service was professional and friendly. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

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Visited On Saturday, 14 October 2017

Very good food

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Visited On Saturday, 14 October 2017

Great venue - perfect for the theatre. A few constructive comments: The poor waitress serving us was 'new' and clearly hadn't been properly trained. She knew very little about the food or drinks - not her fault but management failure to train adequately. Food: excellent pigeon breast and morcilla. Spanish charcuterie cut so wafer-thin that it was almost translucent - I doubt there was much more than 25g for £12. Draught beer at about £8.60 a pint -really? So, overall, we thought over-priced

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Visited On Thursday, 12 October 2017

Wonderful food. I love it here.

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Visited On Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Great food and wine. Very flavoursum, but smallish portion sizes (but it is tapas). Small restaurant so a bit cramped, but creates a cozy atmosphere. I will return.

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Visited On Wednesday, 11 October 2017

I have been patronising the Opera Tavern and other Salt Yard affiliate restaurants for a few years now. Always found them good value for money and the food was always spot on. Something is definitely amiss. I noticed it the previous time I visited and it was confirmed a couple of days ago, during our last visit. The food is not great, there are issues with the seasoning and it was a trend through many of our dishes. I would die before I ask for the salt shaker in a good restaurant, I believe the food that has been carefully prepared, would have been tasted before it comes to my table. I asked for one this time. The signature mini burger that I used to crave was dry and overcooked and at 8 bucks a pop, not value for money. The prices though show no sign of getting off the sharp upward trend. I can get a better meal for less than £50/head including a couple of 175ml glasses of wine, even in the Covent Garden area. I am a disappointed patron. I will think about visiting again. Maybe absence will make my heart fonder.....maybe.....

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Visited On Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Delicious tapas on set lunch menu. We are 3 friends who started secondary school together in 1965 and had a lovely "catch up". Thank you.

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Visited On Saturday, 07 October 2017

Very welcoming and efficient service. A different - and tasty - take on tapas. Great ingredients, well cooked and beautifully presented. Fabulous for sharing. We ate in the lull as theatre guests departed - it got very busy after 9pm. Will definitely be back to taste more!

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Visited On Monday, 09 October 2017

Came with two visitors from Panama. All of us had a superb meal and a lovely time. The staff were friendly and efficient and the although the restaurant was full, it was quiet enough that we could hold a conversation. Can't wait to return...

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Visited On Friday, 07 April 2017

The food was very disappointing, the chorizo was under cooked and "stringy" and the other food was luke warm. Not an enjoyable meal.

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Visited On Saturday, 07 October 2017

Great food and very friendly and efficient waitress. Really enjoyed and would recommend to anyone going to the theatre .

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Visited On Saturday, 07 October 2017

Fabulous food and great service. My first trip to a tapas bar and I was pleased that the food didn't come out all at once as there wouldn't have been room on the table. A relaxing evening was had by all with lots of discussion about the food and some "firsts" for a few of us. I look forward to returning.

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Visited On Saturday, 07 October 2017

Great food and service. Our food arrived so quickly and every single dish was delicious

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Visited On Tuesday, 03 October 2017

Very thoughtful, informative service in a lovely setting.

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Visited On Saturday, 30 September 2017

The food was delicious and the service second to none.

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Visited On Wednesday, 04 October 2017

Pleasant meal at the bar. Decent food and good wine. Generally relaxed atmosphere.

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Visited On Tuesday, 03 October 2017

I thought the service was good and particularly enjoyed the wine recommendation. Would definitely visit again. Although not cheap the tapas dishes were unusual and enjoyable.

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Visited On Tuesday, 03 October 2017

OK but overpriced.

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Visited On Monday, 02 October 2017

Really enjoyed our experience Very friendly waitress who served us and made sure that we were able to get to our theatre on time without feeling rushed Food was really good - exceeded expectations

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Visited On Saturday, 30 September 2017

Perfect place for an evening meal, service was great, the food was amazing and the wine even better. Can't wait to return.

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Visited On Saturday, 30 September 2017

Just all so delicious. Relaxed service in the best way. Food outstanding.

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